It’s no understatement to say that 2023 was a challenging year for L&D leaders. This will continue in 2024, with economic and C-Suite pressures causing learning teams to achieve more with less, all while getting to grips with AI, the skills-first transformation, and how to best prepare their workforces for this shifting landscape. Here, key C-Suite leaders from Degreed discuss their predictions for 2024 and how L&D can adapt to these.
From David Blake, CEO of Degreed:
“The biggest issue senior leaders are dealing with right now is the chronic shortage of skilled talent to fulfill their business strategies and rise to challenges. Every other challenge we see in workplaces today, whether that’s bringing AI and automation to your operations or meeting Net Zero goals, relies on having the right people with the right skills in place to execute your vision. The unfortunate truth is that the skills shortage is never going to go away. As more technological innovations hit the market and more pressures are piled on businesses from an economic and societal standpoint, the skills gap will only widen across all roles and industries. By 2030, it’s predicted that economies globally will lose $8.5 trillion in unrealized revenues because of the skills gap. We have little over half a decade to try and reverse this trend as much as possible.
“As a leader, skills need to be top of mind because that’s how you’ll remain ahead of the widening skills gap. It isn’t about plugging the gap anymore but keeping ahead of your competition’s skills shortages. Doing so requires a multi-pronged approach with upskilling and reskilling an obvious answer, along with moving talent to where their skills are most in demand, and making your workforce agile enough to quickly learn new skills and work in new roles when needed. Understanding the unique skills mix in your workforce will help you identify immediate areas of improvement where a lack of specific skills will hinder your business in 2024. Aligning this with your 2024 goals will prevent your strategy from being derailed by a sudden realization that your workforce is missing critical skills.”
From Janice Burns, Chief Transformation Officer:
“Digitization of learning means technology will become much more present in how we deliver employee learning in 2024. This trend towards digitization also means learning will become more accessible, most importantly for frontline workers and disenfranchised learners who may not have access to the tools that white-collar counterparts. I predict that we’ll see companies experimenting more with delivering employee learning and upskilling via technologies such as mobile and AR/VR in 2024.
“We’re hearing from many of our clients that they’re reconsidering their Return To Work (RTO) policies for 2024. This is based on observations that employees desire more social interaction and connectedness with their colleagues. Business leaders and L&D professionals share a similar sentiment regarding in-person and cohort based work and learning. Both recognize that learning is a social activity. While organizations can facilitate learning asynchronously, a piece of the magic is missing when you don’t allow people to come together and learn in social groups. Whether that is bringing more in-person learning into the office in 2024, creating more collaborative experiences for people to learn, or creating more cohort experiences for people to learn, I predict we’ll see learning become much more social for organizations in 2024.”
From Annee Bayeux, chief learning strategist at Degreed, on what 2024 holds for AI and upskilling:
“Humanity is in a pivotal moment for its development. I’d go as far as saying we’re evolving as a species because, for the first time, we’re going to have technology that can potentially work faster and smarter than we do. Work, as we fundamentally recognize it, will change for many people, putting a premium on specific skills that enable AI and digital transformation. We will need to constantly reinvent ourselves as technology advances and that begins with our skills and knowledge. The era of the lifelong learner is upon us, we will need to adapt to remain employable and relevant throughout our careers.
“AI will automate some tasks and roles, but work will continue to be a part of our lives. Although leaders like Elon Musk expect the ‘job’ to become obsolete, we will still work in some capacity because it’s part of our human nature. We need to feel like we’re contributing to the world in some way. Careers will become more passion-driven and meaningful — but of course, this can only happen when access to skill-building is equal to everyone and all individuals have the opportunity to reflect on their career goals and complete learning that matches those goals.
“Of course, finances and living standards also need to be considered, if AI takes most jobs, how will people make a living? Simultaneously, we have some organisations like IBM, Unilever and Ericsson, transforming into skills-based organisations, with a view of completely removing the ‘job construct’. In which case, we will see jobs disappear from our future… but work, in its essence, won’t. The notion of the ‘job’ might be eliminated but we will still complete work in the form of projects and gigs, in a more fluid way that moves people to where their skills are most needed.
“2024 brings some interesting opportunities and challenges for business, HR, and L&D leaders as we move towards a future where AI is mainstream, some skills attract a premium, and jobs disappear. Remaining open to change, with flexible workforce strategies and systems will help organizations adapt to whatever changes come in 2024. We can expect to see more AI ‘killer apps’ launch over the year, and how this changes our work and skills is yet to be determined. Having a culture of lifelong learning will be critical, as people will have to learn new skills potentially within days and weeks in response to new technologies.
Todd Tauber, SVP of Strategy at Degreed, on the future of learning platforms in 2024:
“2023 was the perfect storm for L&D teams since they had to navigate an increasingly confusing learning technology market, with pressure from the C-Suite to create more business impact through learning, with tighter budgets. Now, businesses want L&D that is powered by artificial intelligence and data, to help them deliver learning opportunities that match what skills the business needs. Learning platforms are evolving, especially the LXP (learning experience platform), which is expanding from being just a content consolidation machine to something that connects workforce intelligence and talent to internal marketplaces, HCM systems, and people analytics.”
In conclusion, the learning leaders who start 2024 with a clear plan for getting ahead of these many transformations and opportunities will set their businesses and workforces up for success for the rest of the year. Putting the groundwork in when back to work in January will pay off for the following 11 months with greater agility, efficiency, and the right skills in the right places.