2021: The Year of Learning
Posted by Roy Saunderson on Thu, Apr 08, 2021 @ 01:00 PM

2020 found most of us readjusting to work through different and unique settings. And for too many employees, learning and career development fell by the wayside.

Udemy is an online learning platform used by more than 50 million students and professionals, with 57,000 instructors teaching 100,000 courses in 65-plus languages. Their 2021 Workplace Learning Trend Report gives us insights on upskilling and what we can expect to see this year. 


The overall focus of the Udemy report is the need for upskilling and learning agility. In virtue of the pandemic, more employees were upskilled in 2020 (38 percent) than in 2019 (14 percent), with the primary goal of closing the skills gap. But only 57 percent of respondents are very or somewhat satisfied with their organization's learning and development. The survey pinpoints six emerging trends for 2021:

TREND #1: Amidst uncertainty, self-mastery is a valued skill.

There is a growing need for take-charge employees to gain control over their well-being and mental health. Interest in courses teaching time management, motivation, focus mastery, self-discpline, memory and goal achievement has increased exponentially. Research from the Health Affairs journal reports that every dollar spent on wellness programs, companies can expect their healthcare costs to decrease by approximately $3.27.

TREND #2: Remote work makes collaboration a priority.

Succeeding in today's workplace requires strong collaboration and teamwork. Making this happen requires excellent communication skills and exemplary leadership skills. No wonder communication courses on listening skills, business communication, conflict management and interpersonal feedback showed significant percentage growth. 

Leadership skills, diversity and inclusion led the course path, followed by decision-making, strategic thinking, facilitation, teamwork and cultural awareness.

TREND #3: Data literacy is the new computer literacy.

Too few employees know how to assist their leaders in deciphering the potential of systems' data and analyzing them for functional application. However, areas such as data visualization software are in demand and stimulate employees to learn software such as Google Sheets, Salesforce and Qlik Sense to present the data they analyze in meaningful ways to their managers and leaders.

TREND #4: Automation skills let data scientists focus on strategy.

Machine learning and artificial intelligence have opened the door for automating many functions. Learning the language of program libraries and machine learning techniques allows for careful manipulation of data to solve future problems before they happen.

TREND #5: Farewell, silos; hello, hybrid tech roles.

Faced with the need for more agile project management, technical teams find they need a greater diversity of expertise. Leading to more hybrid job functions as employees are encouraged to gain expertise in several subject areas. People in software development, for example, are eating up courses in DevOps learning, continuous integration and opensource software application.

TREND #6: Cybersecurity training takes on a new urgency.

With remote work comes more significant digital security risks and the need to educate everyone on email scams, malware and phishing, safe internet habits and personal information protection. IT leaders must examine security gaps to prevent financial loss, and protect intellectual property, employee and customer data and their organization's reputation.

Whatever happens during the remainder of 2021 and in the future, it's crucial to help employees plan their learning and career development. Allowing your employees the opportunity to learn and develop will benefit both the organization and the employee. It will build their confidence and loyalty; in return, they will want to share their newly acquired knowledge within their domain of expertise.

Authors Note: A version of this article originally appeared in TrainingMag.com. Click here to read it in its entirety.

Topics: Training

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