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The cost of hiring can be as much as 50%–200% of an annual salary, according to the newly-released Lean Into Learning report from Skillsoft. Hiring costs, as well as employees’ interest, have prompted organizations to place a greater emphasis on learning and development to drive workforce transformation.

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“Employees want to work for organizations that commit to and provide growth opportunities and learning and development that lead to more enriching and rewarding careers,” said the report, which examines the state of digital learning as well as the most in-demand skills and competencies for the future of work.

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Learners are upskilling in five areas

The report shows a 32% year-over-year increase in time spent by learners, upskilling their leadership, business and power skills. Analyzing total leadership and business course completions over the past year, the top five skill areas of interest reflect learners’ desire and need to adapt to the evolving, hybrid workplace:

  • Written communication.
  • Unconscious bias.
  • Virtual work in the new normal.
  • Working remotely.
  • Communication essentials.

Tech evolution fuels skills development in these topics

The rapid evolution of technology is driving economic growth, innovation and development; investing in relevant skills is essential for talent and organizations to stay competitive in this fast-moving digital area, the report said. As a result, there is a 39% YoY increase in time spent by Skillsoft learners expanding their technical skill sets.

The top tech skills trending topics in 2022 were:

  • Cloud security.
  • Networking core concepts.
  • IT hardware technician.
  • Java.
  • Cloud basics.
  • Scrum.
  • Security core concepts.
  • Oracle-certified professional, Java SE programmer.
  • Microsoft-certified Azure fundamentals.
  • Linux administration.

A look at search and course consumption via Skillsoft’s Codecademy online learning platform shows that “Python stands as the most searched topic over the past year by Codecademy learners, followed by Java, SQL, JavaScript and HTML, respectively,” the report said.

Based on path enrollments, the top five subjects across Codecademy’s catalog are web development, data science, machine learning, computer science and data analytics, respectively.

Skillsoft’s research also found that compared to its platform usage data from last year there has been a decrease in Agile development. This “may indicate that organizations have already implemented Agile and are already reaping the benefits,” the report noted.

A culture of compliance is a mindset rather than a mandate

The COVID-19 pandemic brought new regulatory requirements, supply chain challenges, cultural conflicts and emerging risks from a hybrid workforce. As organizations increasingly view compliance as a mindset rather than a mandate, Skillsoft’s report highlights a 27% YoY increase in time spent by learners on compliance training.

“An eye-opening and sobering finding shows the top overall trending compliance course as active shooter training as these situations become more common in public places and at work premises,” the report noted.

Additionally, organizations are facing corporate social responsibility and environmental, social and governance pressures from every direction, according to the report. For instance, government regulations are evolving rapidly, making a focused approach to ESG a corporate necessity, the report maintained. Some 60% of working professionals surveyed for Skillsoft’s recent CSR at Work report cited an uptick in CSR interest and investment from employers and employees.

How to and why implement personalized learning programs

As hybrid work becomes the norm, employers are “under intense pressure to stay abreast of — and ahead of — digital transformation,” the report noted. Because the labor market remains tight, the Skillsoft report said that finding, hiring and then retaining a skilled workforce “is more difficult, time-consuming and expensive than ever.”

This year’s report has “a clear theme of organizations responding to a rapidly-changing way of work while finding ways to make sure they are equipped and agile enough to keep up,” said Mark Onisk, chief content officer at Skillsoft. “Organizations needed to not only see the ROI (return on investment) from their learning programs but also drive visible transformation within their company that made an impact on the day-to-day of their employees and their career trajectory, and in turn, on the bottom line.”

To achieve this, Onisk said learning programs must meet learners where they are and be personalized to their specific role to effectively elevate their skill set. He cited, for example, Skillsoft customer CVS Health, which is using “curated learning journeys specifically designed for people with different needs based on their role and area of the company to upskill their employees in the most effective way possible.”

Further, the report recommends organizations:

  • Conduct an inventory of current skills.
  • Determine and create appropriate learning paths.
  • Measure success.

Skillsoft said the report is based on proprietary data taken from tens of millions of its learners.

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