Finding those Adaptable, Critical Thinkers

A 2018 LinkedIn report on talent development has found that the number one priority is training for soft skills. In the age of automation, maintaining technical fluency across roles will be critical, but the pace of change is fueling demand for adaptable, critical thinkers, communicators, and leaders. Jane McCarroll highlights some key trends in the report.

Earlier this year LinkedIn Learning published the 2018 Workplace Learning Report, which surveyed more than 4,000 professionals: 1,200 talent development professionals, 2,200 employees, 200 executives and 400 people managers.

The findings showed that talent developers are increasingly being asked to play a central role in strategic workforce planning. Through interviews with industry experts, the report also details a more holistic view of modern workplace learning, and the challenges that HR professionals face in today’s ever-changing world of work.

Here are some of the key findings highlighted by Linkedln communications team:

1. As the shelf life of skills shrinks, business leaders worry that talent developers are focused on training for today’s skill demands, at the expense of preventing tomorrow’s skill gaps. 

The LinkedIn research shows that in 2018, talent developers are prioritising the employee development needs of today. Yet, executives and people managers say that talent development leaders should prioritise identifying the skills that will be most important to build for the future. LinkedIn says that savvy talent development leaders will find balance in their efforts to support the employees of today and tomorrow.

2. The number-one training priority in 2018 is soft skills. 

Each group in the survey–from executives to managers to talent developers–identified ‘training for soft skills’ as the number-one priority for talent development in 2018. In the age of automation, maintaining technical fluency across roles will be critical, but the pace of change is fueling demand for adaptable employees who are critical thinkers, communicators and leaders.

3. Talent developers are depending more on online learning solutions to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse, multi-generational workforce–and there’s no turning back. 

Fifty-eight percent of employees prefer opportunities to learn at their own pace, 49 percent prefer to learn at the point of need. Talent developers know that they need to rely on digital learning solutions to cater to varied learning needs. A recent ATD report found that almost 90 percent of companies offer digital learning today. LinkedIn says its survey shows that talent developers depend more on online learning solutions than ever before–not only to deliver content, but to measure learning success.

4. Employers should meet employees on platforms they are already using to align their on-the-job needs and professional aspirations. 

Each group in the survey identified ‘getting employees to make time for learning’ as the number-one challenge facing talent development in 2018. Yet, 94 percent of employees say that they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career development. The modern organisation needs to meet learners where they already are-aligning development opportunities with employee aspirations, and engaging them through the platforms where they are already spending their time.

5. Manager involvement is a critical ingredient to increase employee engagement with learning. 

LinkedIn says that 56 percent of employees say that they would spend more time learning if their manager directed them to complete a specific course in order to gain or improve their skills. Talent developers name “increased manager involvement” as the number-two challenge they face. Getting managers more involved in employee learning is not the only way to see increased learner engagement, but data shows it will likely make an impact. For example, 56 percent of employees said they would spend more time learning if their manager recommended courses to them.

You can see the full LinkedIn report on 

At IMNZ we know the world of work is changing–and some jobs are changing faster than others. While we might not know what they all look like yet–we do know what the skills look like to shepherd our organisations to be positively poised for the future. It’s stuff the robots can’t do and we can.

Jane McCarroll is the Strategic Partnership & Sponsorship Lead at Skills.

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