The Top 9 Priorities for Learning in 2019

Melissa Suzuno

HR and L&D Insights Writer at Udemy for Business

February 7, 2019

What is your learning team prioritizing this year? Udemy for Business recently surveyed 400 HR and L&D leaders to learn which trends they’re anticipating and how they’re preparing their workforce for the coming changes.

Here are the top 9 learning priorities for 2019.

To learn more about our other findings, download our report 5 Workplace Learning Trends & 5 Predictions 2019.

1. Creating a growth mindset of continuous learning

Technology innovation is changing at an exponentially fast pace, forcing employees and employers to constantly keep skills up to date to stay relevant. The half-life of a learned skill is 5 years which means that what you learned 10 years ago is likely obsolete and half of what you learned 5 years ago is already irrelevant. So it’s not surprising that 65% of L&D leaders said creating a growth mindset of continuous learning tops their list of priorities in 2019.

Creating a growth mindset as opposed to a fixed mindset helps ensure employees are open to change and continuous learning. ITX, a software development firm, fosters continuous innovation to avoid disruption. They keep their employees on their toes as “the future is unexpected and you never know today what your customers will want tomorrow.” ITX develops a growth mindset by offering on-demand online learning through Udemy for Business as well as building in the “next challenge” in employee development plans. They also set a growth mindset on day 1 during the recruitment process by recommending online courses on Udemy for Business for potential candidates. This demonstrates to candidates that ITX cares about their individual growth as well as sets the expectation for continuous learning. Learn more about ITX’s L&D programs: Watch webinar on Creating a Growth Mindset.

2. Tech skills training

The technological landscape is changing rapidly—machine learning, AI, and blockchain are gaining traction (to name just a few of the latest trends). It’s not surprising that tech skills training is the #2 top priority for 49% of surveyed L&D leaders in 2019. Here at Udemy, we’ve analyzed the fastest-growing skills 30+ million people are learning worldwide to identify the top tech skills for 2019. See Top 10 Tech Skills for 2019 to get an overview of which tech skills are currently trending.

3. Manager & leadership training

Manager & leadership training has always been a mainstay of L&D priorities. But as millennials make up the majority of the workplace (and many are moving into management), L&D will need to reinvent their leadership training programs. Research by Udemy has found that millennials feel personally affected by the skills gap and would quit a job where they received no training. As the workforce undergoes this generational shift, companies will need to rethink their traditional approaches to management and talent development. For example, it’s essential for managers to learn how to coach and develop their millennial employees through listening, connecting, and allowing flexibility. See Stop Managing: Why It’s Critical to Coach Your Millennial Employees. This is likely why 48% of L&D teams are prioritizing manager and leadership training in 2019 as their top #3 priority.

4. Keeping the workforce up to speed with disruptive technologies

There are a number of disruptive technologies that are poised to transform the way we work and live. We can expect to see a rise in autonomous vehicles, robots, and agents that are powered by AI, augmented analytics that allow us to remove bias when analyzing data, and immersive technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). For a complete list, see Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2019. It’s not surprising that 41% of L&D leaders said keeping their workforce up to speed with disruptive technologies is their #4 priority in 2019. L&D teams may be helping their companies familiarize themselves with these disruptive technologies, or they may be using these technologies to upskill or reskill employees. See How Digital Transformation is Disrupting Learning.

5. Soft skills training

We’ve already discussed the importance of tech skills in the 2019 workplace, but as we move toward a digital-human workforce, many L&D leaders realize that people will need to specialize in the business and soft skills that robots lack. Our Humanizing Learning report found that organizations that foster human traits like collaboration and storytelling perform better than organizations that don’t. In our survey, 33% of L&D leaders rated soft skills training as their #5 top priority for 2019. To help L&D leaders, we’ve analyzed the fastest growing soft skills that are trending in the workplace in 2019 on Udemy for Business. You can find our list of the top 10 soft skills for 2019 here.

6. Aligning learning to business outcomes

Towards the end of 2018, we surveyed L&D and HR leaders to better understand how organizations are proving the ROI of learning and shared the findings in our State of the ROI of Learning report. One of the interesting trends we noted was the fact that 44% of organizations gave themselves a score of 5 out of 5 on their ability to measure the ROI of learning programs. At the same time, the majority of companies were relying on metrics like training satisfaction and completion rates. These metrics are useful to measure, but they aren’t linked directly to business outcomes. In our survey, 28% of L&D leaders rated aligning learning to business outcomes as their #6 top priority. In 2019, L&D leaders are striving to create a clear connection between learning initiatives and business outcomes like employee engagement, productivity, and retention.

7. Reskilling the workforce for a digital transformation due to automation and digitization

27% of L&D leaders said reskilling the workforce for the digital transformation is their #7 top priority in 2019. The digital transformation, led by automation and digitization, means that some jobs will be phased out or no longer require as many employees. In anticipation of these changes, companies are looking for ways to reskill their existing workforce. For example, Silica anticipates phasing out manual data-entry roles and has launched a Digital Academy to reskill employees and help them take on new roles in project management, software development, and business analysis at the company. Customer service firm [24]7.ai implemented an AI chatbot tool that could handle many of its most routine inquiries, so the company focused on training customer service employees in positive psychology, emotional intelligence, and other critical skills that would help them handle more complex customer issues. To learn more about how other companies are preparing for the digital transformation, see The Top Learning Trends for 2019: Towards a Digital-Human Workforce.

8. Embedding learning better in the workflow to meet on-the-job needs

Once upon a time, it might have been realistic to send employees to offsite or extended trainings. In 2019, though, most L&D teams are looking for ways to embed learning into the workflow so employees can learn exactly what they need right when they need it. In our survey, 19% of L&D leaders said this is their #8 priority. The “just-in-time” approach to learning has a number of benefits: not only does it save time and resources, but it creates feelings of empowerment that reinforce behavior change on the job. See 4 Tips to Implement Just-in-Time Learning at Your Organization and how Delta Air Lines’ L&D team is embedding learning in the flow of work.

9. Better integrating L&D with the business

L&D is shedding its boundaries and marrying itself more closely with the business–and becoming “invisible.” Workplace learning is going beyond the L&D function by ingraining itself into all parts of the business–so learning is everywhere. In our survey, 16% of L&D leaders said better integrating L&D with the business is their #9 priority.

Bersin by Deloitte’s High-Impact Learning Organization research reveals that “successful learning organizations have moved beyond L&D and training; instead, they are developing their entire organization to fully integrate learning within the flow of work and at the point of need.” See 7 Reasons Your L&D Team Should be Invisible.

By closely aligning L&D with the business, everyone throughout the organization plays a role (not just L&D) in driving learning–from executives and team managers to employees themselves. By moving learning from events to infrastructure-based, learning is no longer a one-time workshop but instead a continuous learning “infrastructure” that includes opportunities for on-demand online learning or social learning. Finally, by understanding how executives make decisions and prioritize resources, L&D leaders also can better integrate L&D with the business overall. If better alignment with your business is one of your priorities in 2019, check out the practical tips and advice we share in Building the Business Case for Learning.

2019 promises to be a landmark year for L&D. We have the opportunity to help prepare our organizations and employees for significant changes and demonstrate value to our business to an unprecedented degree. Which initiatives will you be focusing on this year?

About Udemy for Business:

Udemy for Business is a learning platform that helps companies stay competitive in today’s rapidly changing workplace by offering fresh, relevant on-demand learning content, curated from the Udemy marketplace. Our mission is to help employees do whatever comes next—whether that’s the next project to do, skill to learn, or role to master. We’d love to partner with you on your employee development needs. Get in touch with us at business@udemy.com

Top 10 Tech and Soft Skills Trending in 2019 thumbnail

Infographic

Based on data from 30+ million learners on Udemy, here are the fastest-growing top 10 tech & soft skills in 2019

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