Future of Work: Rewriting Learning Rules for the Digital Age


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There is a lot of buzz around the very concept of the “Future of Work” and what it will entail. Deloitte released their fifth annual Global Human Capital Trends report and survey. This year’s report takes stock of the challenges ahead for business and HR leaders in a dramatically changing digital, economic, demographic, and social landscape. In an age of disruption, business and HR leaders are being pressed to rewrite the rules for how they organise, recruit, develop, manage, and engage the 21st-century workforce. They have identified 10 trends that are playing out in the market, based on the feedback they have from the HR practitioners who participated in the survey. You can have a look at the short video below to find out about all the 10 trends that they have identified.


One of the most important trend that I see playing out in the market that is critical and that affects all of us is the trend around learning. They talk about the fact that learning is ongoing and realtime. What I am seeing playing out in the marketplace is three simultaneous things at the same time:

  • The average tenure of an employee is reducing.
  • The number of contract employees is on the rise.
  • The shelf life of tactical skills is reducing.

What all of these three trends put together means is that the responsibility of learning and keeping pace with the evolving business landscape is now more and more with the employees themselves.

This raises a few questions that every organisation needs to answer for themselves.


  • Will organisations want to aid the employees in their learning and development (rhetorical question but needs to be answered)? How?
  • What role will managers play in the learning and development of the employees?
  • Will the traditional learning programs still be relevant in this scenario? If yes, how? If not, what will replace them?
  • Will the learning and development teams of today still be relevant? If so, what will their key focus be?
  • Will organisations want to aid the contract employees in their learning activities? How? How much?
  • Does this need a change in the organisational structure within HR? If yes, what would the change look like?
  • How can learning be made real-time and contextual? How can learning become an integral part of every day work?

Irrespective of the size of organisation that you lead, every business leader needs to sit down with their HR leaders and think about these questions and find their own answers to these questions, if they want to continue to stay relevant.


  • Every employee needs to think about what skills do they need to learn?
  • How will they go about learning them? What will be their go-to medium to learn?
  • Will they be able to get the cost of these learnings covered from their existing employers?

This also means that as employees we need to be a lot more self-aware of ourselves, our strengths and weaknesses and the potential opportunities for growth. There may not be a manager who could see our potential and mentor us and help us grow.

Learning service providers:

This is another set of entrepreneurs who will need to re-think how they deliver their training programs. Slowly but steadily, this set of service providers will see a decline in the business that they get from large corporates. This means that they have to evolve their business models and re-invent themselves. Some questions that they could potentially ask themselves are:

  • Does it make sense to explore moving away from selling to corporates to towards selling to individuals? If yes, how could the transformation happen?
  • How can we make the programs relevant, realtime and contextual for employees being trained? If yes, how?
  • Does it make sense to move away from standard training formats to personalised programs? IF yes, how?
  • Does it make sense to move away from employing trainers to employing coaches? If yes, how do we go about doing that?

In conclusion:

I think that in a world where the pace of change is fast, it becomes imperative that organisations are able to adapt to this change. What this means is that the employees who are the lifeline of these organisations need to not only understand what these changes mean to them and to their business but also decide on which one’s to adopt, which one’s to ignore and which one’s to ride on. This requires that they know about everything that is changing in their environment and this also means that learning is no longer something that you do once or twice a year, but it becomes a daily or at least a weekly activity.

Also, learning institutions like universities and schools need to re-look at their role in this light. I did share one  way that they could evolve into here.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Mukesh Gupta
I currently work for SAP as Customer advocate. In this capacity, I am responsible to ensure that the voice of the customer is being heard and play the bridge between customers and SAP. Prior to joining SAP, I have worked with different organizations serving in different functions like customer service, logistics, production planning & sales, marketing and business development functions. I was also the founder-CEO of a start-up called "Innovative Enterprises". The venture was in the retail & distribution business. I blog at http://rmukeshgupta.com.


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