What Workplace Learning Will Look Like in 2030
I recently read a research paper published on LinkedIn by billionaire investor and hedge fund manager, Ray Dalio titled, The New World Order. The eight-chapter paper covers the rises and falls of world superpowers throughout history.
What I found most interesting was that a similar pattern drove the rise and fall of each empire. That pattern was the focus on the education of their society. Based on Mr. Dalio's research, I gathered that education is the foundation of anything that thrives.
The lessons we can learn from how countries have risen to power and subsequently fallen over time can be a useful framework for how to think about growing your company. Outside of delivering a great product or service, your employees are the number one driver for sustained business growth. The highest performing companies are always made up of a team of experts, so it’s crucial to bake education into your culture.
So to answer what workplace learning will look like in 2030, we first have to zoom out before we zoom in. First, our goal is to answer what the world might look like at the end of this decade through a few different relevant lenses. Those lenses are:
The changing landscape of employment
Technology's evolving role
How companies focus on learning and development.
Admittedly, writing an article in hopes of offering accurate predictions for L&D professionals is a bit more complicated than the average listicle. To peer through the veil into the future requires converging on several different trends to find the patterns in hopes of connecting some dots.
One thing is for sure, workplace learning will play a major role in the future of work.
Power to the people
Currently, we're living in a hybrid corporate world. As many countries are starting to see "normal" again, some organizations want their employees to return to the office in some capacity.
But many companies have been met with pushback from employees who would rather work remotely. Even established brands like Apple or Google can't convince their employees to go back to the office full-time. Working for big shiny logos doesn't have the same appeal after surviving a global pandemic. And although there is no beating in-person collaboration, there’s a rise of a working class that prefers to conduct business from wherever there’s an internet connection.
The individual now has more power than ever in history. Today's top talent knows they can work from anywhere and for anyone all over the globe. It’s difficult to make in-office perks meet the appeal of working from a beach.
So because there's more power to the individual, I believe the employee of the future will look a lot like a freelance worker. To-do’s and deliverables will become more structured, and advancement within a company more systematized.
The employee in 2030 will be even more armed with options. One of those options will be how they educate themselves. But before we jump into what education will look like in a decade, we need to look at what role people will be playing in the workforce. Let's look at the big trend in tech.
Technology as a tool
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are eating the internet the way internet companies ate brick and mortar during the dot com era. It’s true that AI is taking our jobs.
In an article published by MarTech Advisor in 2017, they predicted that 50 percent of marketing jobs will eventually be replaced by machine intelligence. But it's not just the marketing department that's getting swallowed by tech.
The World Economic Forum recently stated that AI will replace over 85 million jobs by 2025. As company leaders realize the growing importance of understanding their analytics to make competitive business decisions, artificial intelligence will affect every function in every industry. The roles, however, that remain filled by humans share some distinct commonalities.
Regardless of how intelligent our robot colleagues become, nothing compares to collective human ingenuity. So I believe the roles of the future will have a data-driven focus on creativity and strategy.
For example, we already have AI creating high-quality content for us. But developing the strategy to deploy content in a way that drives company-specific business metrics takes personalization and creativity from one campaign to the next. So in 2030, the top employees will have learned how to collaborate with technology to help unlock their creativity and critical thinking.
When it comes to the L&D landscape, we're going to want to train for creativity. If that sounds like a tall task, trust your instincts. Learning to be more creative and strategic is a complex pursuit.
There's no framework, mental model, or life hack that explains how individualized creative and abstract thinking is — but moving forward personalization will be crucial to get right. This is where the company's focus on learning and development comes into play.
Efficient learning meets business success
To zoom back into our question at hand, what workplace learning will look like in 2030, if there's going to be fewer roles for people, that means companies will be smaller as well. Not only will hiring become more critical, but continual learning will be key in a rapidly evolving workforce.
To add a layer of complexity, traditional education is becoming outdated because they over-price education. Now more young adults in history are electing to self educate and enter the workforce.
The best and the brightest workers already invest in themselves and their education. That means if you offer ways to make continual learning easy for them, you will be more likely to gain interest from top talent.
Although the benefits of information abundance far outweigh the drawbacks, the drawbacks do cause some disadvantages companies will face in the future. The major disadvantage being that more workers will have gaps in their skillset. This makes how we think about the upskilling talent crucial.
Because now more than ever, speed wins. In today's globally competitive, rapidly evolving workforce, companies that continually iterate and optimize how they work together will be the ones that stand tall at the decade‘s end. This is why continual education is crucial for success. To cover how they can become a hub for continual education, let's now talk about the best mechanism that delivers learning.
If you're anything like me, your phone never leaves your peripheral. In fact, it's probably sitting next to you or you’re reading this with it right now. And until Elon Musk figures out the whole chip in our brains thing, our devices likely aren't going anywhere this decade. In short, mobile learning is on the rise.
Part of Steve Jobs's genius with the iPhone was his reasoning behind why he wanted the phone to have a touchscreen in the first place. To paraphrase, it was to provide a modular interface for application developers. Developers could leverage a touch screen to create any application as long as it fit on the screen. That invention is the reason why "there's an app for that."
A smartphone can be the infrastructure for accelerated employee learning because it's a device that can personalize the content specifically for the individual. There are many different ways to consume content on a smartphone, so now we can build learning tools to meet learners where they are and structure content to help them learn more efficiently.
I believe workplace learning in 2030 will be more fluid, creative, collaborative, and the key driver for sustained business growth. Developing a culture of continuing education will no longer just be a luxury for organizations. It will become a necessity to thrive.
A hot take for the future
Although it may not seem like it, we're currently living in the most abundant era in human history. I believe the 2020s will go down as the Great Transition for our world and species.
On a global scale, we realize that the methods of madness that got our civilization here are now outdated and can't get us where we want to go. Change is always difficult, and we're currently experiencing the hardships of building a sustainable world for everyone.
As with any prediction, only time will tell. But I hope you found this, at the very least, thought-provoking.
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