There has been a paradigm shift in learning and development in past few years due to technology intervention. What is your take on L&D of the future?
RS I would like to say that historically, Learning & Development (L&D) function has been relatively successful in helping employees in sharpening skills and performing well in their existing roles. However, over the past decade, the global workforce has been continually evolving because of a few factors : an increasingly competitive business landscape, growing complexity, and the digital revolution are imagining the mix of employees. Meanwhile, continuing uncertainty, a multi-generational workforce, and a shorter shelf life for knowledge have placed a premium on re-skilling and up-skilling.
The change to a digital, knowledge-based economy means that a digital savvy workforce is more important than ever. In fact, research suggests that a good percentage of market capitalization in public companies is based on intangible assets - skilled employees, exceptional leaders, and knowledge. These trends have enhanced the L&D importance, and the functions adapting to meet the changing needs of organizations, and rising levels of investment in professional development. Further, in my view L&D future is highly demanding because employee roles are expected to be evolving and people will need to learn new skills to remain employable and productive. As one research estimates that a few million jobs could be displaced by automation by 2025, it will throw open huge opportunities for re-skilling and redeployment.
What are some current trends that you are optimistic about in the L&D function?
RS I am very optimistic about strengths of L&D because workers are now in charge of their personal and professional growth and development. One reason is that young people list 'opportunities for learning and development' among the most important criterion for moving into an organization. On the other hand, a lack of L&D is one of the key reasons people cite for leaving a company.
It is a common knowledge that the learning landscape is shifting. With unparallel advancement in technology, employees are taking command of their own education. Organizations are stepping up to help shape the future of learning. They are focusing on providing mentoring, coaching, ongoing feedback, and consulting resources for learning opportunities.
Organizations have started adopting both traditional and modern approaches to maximize their learning, employee-led learning, people leaders as coaches, social learning, employee-curated content, mobile, microlearning, data and analytics, Learning Experience Platform, Gamification, AR & VR, and people data. Further technologies which concentrate on usability and experience are helping improve learner engagement. The big change is, mobile and social learning are gaining traction and feature heavily in a modern learning environment.
To get the most out of these investments in training programs and curriculum development, L&D leaders must embrace a broader role within the organization and formulate an ambitious vision for the function.
Do you consider L&D as one of the key challenges for talent management leaders in fast changing skills scenario, if so, how it should be addressed?
RS One of L&D's key responsibilities is to lead the development of people and to do so in a way that helps other key business priorities. L&D strategic role span broadly around five areas - attract and retain talent, develop people capabilities, learning and talent development, motivate and engage people, create a value-based culture and build an employer brand.
The challenge that talent management leaders face is to ensure that they have plug and play talent available to meet the organizational current and future skills needs. Many organizations despite the management rhetoric, learning has never truly been a strategic tool. This lack of a strategic identity in L&D is potentially holding it back from taking a more impactful role in strategic talent development. However, in view of the increasing importance of talent management to the business agenda, the time is now ripe for L&D to make a much more vocal and visible lead contribution to talent management.
The risks for those without truly effective talent management and development strategies in place is that they face the triple whammy of not only losing their best people, but also not having the people to replace them, or the employer brand or reputation to attract the new talent.