Corporate Training and Development, 2021 and beyond: Challenges and Opportunities – Part 1

February 2, 2021


Change is the law of nature; it is important to step forward with the times and adapt to new realities to thrive in this competitive world. Top-performing corporations understand that offering continued professional learning opportunities for their workforce, increases work satisfaction, efficiency, and retention.

The unforeseen escalation of a global standstill in 2020, brought about by the pandemic, had many Learning & Development leaders across industries exploring and experimenting with creative workforce development strategies to meet an unpredictable future. The journey ahead would be a stressful one, yes, and time-consuming as there are no precedents or success stories to guide decision making. Nonetheless, stakeholders in the L&D value chain have a once in a lifetime opportunity to explore unchartered territories, make discoveries, and set benchmarks in the Learning & Development domain.

In this opinion piece, we articulate some difficult but pertinent challenges that lie ahead for L&D leaders to invest their time in coming up with disruptive strategies.

The breakdown of the Higher Education system, globally

One aspect that stands out among all the disruptions is the impact of the colleges and universities’ prolonged shutdown. Traditionally, many industries have relied on the millions of graduates coming out of colleges and universities worldwide. Higher education institutions have remained a steady source of supply irrespective of all the challenges around employability skills. A breakdown in this talent supply chain is a cause of concern that the industry has to take cognizance of, which would affect the quality of resources available for organizations to recruit and train for the long term. While this may look like a recruitment challenge, it is also a problem area for L&D leaders.

Upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education 

As we are heading into the second year of the pandemic-forced shutdown of educational institutions worldwide, students who chose upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education systems are disadvantaged. This scenario would create stress in the labor supply pipeline across many industries that depend on this specific resource pool.

Higher education

While information technology-based education streams had better virtual/digital learning alternatives, science and engineering education suffered a considerable setback.

L&D leaders have to watch out for long term disruption in the education systems across the world and assess needed skill levels both at the entry-level and continuous skill augmenting programs. 

Growing skill-gaps in emerging and high-demand fields, across industries

Another critical disruption that enterprises worldwide are grappling with is the skill-gap in emerging and high-demand fields. The education value chain’s disruption contributes directly to the massive deficit in qualified and talented workforce available for organizations in the immediate future with long term effects.

For example, the pandemic forced shutdowns have accelerated digital transformation across all areas. Industry 4.0 and Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications across domains are considered essential transformational needs in industries and vital in the business continuity strategy. There is an acute skill shortage the world faces today in these domains at both ends of the demand-supply spectrum. 

L&D stakeholders have a situation in hand that needs creative applications and parallel experimentations of many new combinations in workforce development strategies.

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In the second part of this series, Corporate Training and Development, 2021 and beyond: Challenges and Opportunities – Part 2, we delve into a few aspects of the future of workforce composition and the challenges it brings.

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