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Agility is the business buzzword as of late, and becoming a nimble organization requires building more relevant skills, according to LinkedIn’s 7th annual Workplace Learning report.

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Prioritize learning and development for employees

Even with the slew of layoffs in big tech in recent months, turnover and the skills shortage remain a struggle for talent development professionals, the report said. At the same time, 93% of organizations are concerned about employee retention, yet only 15% say their organization encouraged them to move to a new role.

The report makes the case for emphasizing learning and development, noting that 89% of learning and development professionals believe proactively building employee skills will help navigate the evolving future of work. While skill sets for jobs have changed by about 25% since 2015, that number will double by 2027, according to the report.

“Amid today’s macroeconomic uncertainty, companies are shifting their talent strategies to focus on skills,” said Linda Jingfang Cai, vice president of talent development at LinkedIn. “Learning and development leaders are core to this work, empowering employees to close skills gaps, helping redeploy talent to the most strategic areas of the business and, ultimately, building workforce agility.”

As a result, 82% of global leaders agree that the human resources function is more critical now than it has ever been, Jingfang Cai said. Additionally, more than two-thirds of learning and development pros (68%) are helping their organization navigate economic challenges, according to the report.

“This matters because today what the average employee wants and values is fundamentally different from just three or five years ago,” Jingfang Cai said. “Workers’ values are changing on us, even if we’re not changing workers.”

One surprise finding was that the youngest workers, ages 18 to 34, are most likely to value career growth, learning and skill-building opportunities — even over work-life balance, Jingfang Cai said.

Most in-demand soft and tech skills

The most in-demand skills for this year include management, communication and leadership. While these skills are sought every year, especially in today’s hybrid work environment, “hirers are investing in employees that have the soft skills they need to effectively connect with colleagues across different time zones and platforms,” Jingfang Cai said.

According to the report, the top 10 skills companies need right now based on paid job postings, as well as standout skills of professionals who received a note from a recruiter on LinkedIn or were hired in the past six months, are:

  1. Management
  2. Communication
  3. Customer service
  4. Leadership
  5. Sales
  6. Project management
  7. Research
  8. Analytics
  9. Marketing
  10. Teamwork

In terms of IT, the most in-demand skills by function are:

  1. Management
  2.  SQL
  3. Microsoft Office
  4. Project management
  5. Analytical skills
  6. Communication
  7. Customer service
  8. Leadership
  9. Cloud computing
  10. Python language programming

“Talent leaders know that finding talent that have (these skills) is the key to building a more resilient, adaptable workforce,” said Jingfang Cai.

SEE: The Complete Business Management Training Bundle (TechRepublic Academy)

Budget forecast is promising

The budget outlook for 2023 is “relatively confident,” the report noted, speculating that this is “perhaps because L&D is poised for high impact.” Some 41% of L&D leaders expect to have more spending power this year compared to 48% in 2022.

Although the number dipped slightly from last year’s high, “it still represents the third most optimistic view in seven years of tracking,” the report said.

Only 8% of L&D professionals expect their budget to decrease, the report said.

More key findings from this LinkedIn survey

  • People crave career progress: Across the globe, employees’ number one motivation to learn is “progress toward career goals.”
  • Learning is key to retention and recruiting: Three of the top five factors that people consider when pursuing new jobs reflect their desire to stretch, grow and develop new skills.
  • The top five factors when considering a new job: Compensation and benefits, the flexibility to work where people want and when, challenging and impactful work, opportunities for career growth within the company, and opportunities to learn and develop new skills.

Survey methodology

LinkedIn said it surveyed 1,579 global L&D and HR professionals with L&D responsibilities who have some influence on budget decisions as well as 722 learners.

Read next: Report: The ROI of upskilling and other employee learning programs (TechRepublic)

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