Where Will Your Company Be in 5 Years?

Jennifer Juo

HR and L&D Insights Editor at Udemy for Business

January 4, 2018

Where will your company be in 5 years? 5 years may seem like a while away, but a lot is going to change in 5 years, let alone the next 3-6 months.

In a 2017 PwC survey, 52% of business leaders said technology would have a significant impact on changing competition in their industry in the next 5 years.

At the same time, technology change is rapidly redefining the jobs of the future. “Oxford University predicts that nearly 50 percent of all jobs will be transformed in the next 20 years. I believe it’s happening far faster,” predicts Josh Bersin.

If the half-life of a learned skill is 5 years in today’s era, this means half of what your employees learned 5 years ago is likely irrelevant. Now is the time to get your workforce ready and keep your business competitive in the next 5 years.

Every year, brand-new skills emerge. On Udemy, where we have 18+ million learners, we’re seeing rising demand for new skills based on disruptive technologies or business models like Bitcoin/Blockchain (cryptocurrency online payments), Neural networks (artificial intelligence), and Drop Shipping (inventory-free e-commerce). See the top 10 surging skills in 2018 in our latest report 5 Workplace Learning Trends & Predictions for 2018.

With the fluidity of skills coming and going, we may be moving toward a “role-less” future of work. Career paths will be defined by constant reskilling and movement into new kinds of roles—so instead of job-hopping to new companies, employees will be constantly “role-hopping” within their company.

What does this mean for L&D?

Organizations that encourage continuous learning and help their employees evolve and adapt will be the ones that rise to the top. In this new era of change, L&D holds the key to whether companies and employees thrive.

The next 5 years for L&D

It’s not surprising that 78% of L&D leaders said their top challenge is keeping employees skills up to speed with change, according to a recent Udemy study. But how can L&D ensure their employees adapt and upskill continuously and quickly?

The good news is this same rapid pace of technology innovation is also disrupting workplace learning. Virtual reality, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence are all finding their way into the L&D space—making learning much stickier, engaging, and adaptive. Employees themselves also understand the importance of learning & development, with Millennials rating it as the #1 job benefit—3 to 4 times more important than pay, according to Bersin by Deloitte.

As you kick off 2018, how can you effectively prepare employees for whatever comes next? New technologies and approaches are redefining workplace learning—creating a whole new digital learning architecture. But what are some of the features of this modern ecosystem that can help you keep your employees’ skills continuously up to speed?

The new digital learning architecture

The LMS is no longer the center of the world.

The Learning Management System (LMS) of yesteryear is no longer the center of the corporate learning world. It might still be used for delivering compliance-based learning (which it does well), but today a host of new and innovative tools are building a new digital learning architecture. Continuous learning now happens outside of the classroom (and outside of the LMS) with more informal, mobile, and social tools.

Experience APIs or xAPI allow these new and different tools to work together and share data. The term API (application programming interface) refers to a library of programming functions that developers can use to integrate two or more separate software applications. Experience APIs empower L&D managers to integrate and track all the different kinds activities employees do along the path to learning a new skill while on their computers—from collaborating on social media, learning online, and reaching milestones on simulated games to performing actual new tasks. APIs bring the concept of continuous learning to life—by making it possible to see the entire arc of an individual’s learning, not just the one time they came to class.

Agile learning in the moment of need that’s personalized.

Agile and in-the-moment learning that’s personalized will be key features of this new learning architecture. Keeping up with change means your workforce will need to acquire new skills quickly as they arise. L&D can’t follow the traditional and painfully slow in-house course creation cycles of 6-12 months. Instead, L&D teams should rely on external online learning platforms with curated libraries of content that are updated in real-time. When creating unique in-house content, L&D must adopt Agile development principles used by the software industry. This involves a highly iterative process in 2-week sprints that produces a first “draft” version of your training solution for continuous feedback and tweaking, rather than spending months on perfecting a turnkey solution. See how to adopt Agile development tactics on your L&D team.

On-demand online learning that lets employees learn in the moment will enable your workforce to efficiently acquire new skills that are relevant. Content should also be broken up into short, searchable “questions” that respond to needs on the job. Augmented reality (AR) that digitally positions learning content on top of the real world situations (think Pokemon Go) will also help train employees on the job. Finally, artificial intelligence and machine learning enable online learning platforms to deliver personalized recommendations at scale—just like Netflix and Amazon.

We expect innovative new ideas from L&D teams in the year ahead as you prepare your workforce to adapt to change over the next 5 years.

For more on what to expect in 2018, check out our report 5 Workplace Trends & 5 Predictions for 2018.

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

2020 Workplace Learning Trends Report: The Skills of the Future thumbnail


Discover the latest trending tech & soft skills, top 10 skills by industry & role, and how organizations are preparing their workforce for the future.

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