What’s Next in L&D: Experts Reveal Predictions for 2017

January 19, 2017

Here's what will change in learning in 2017.

From new platforms to billion-dollar promises, 2016 was a transformative year for corporate learning and the world of work. The adoption of digital learning environments and tools accelerated as employers tapped the potential of on-demand and open platforms to engage employees. So how will the world’s most innovative companies approach learning and development in 2017?

Eager to confirm anecdotes with insights, we partnered with Whiteboard Advisors to gather insider intel from a panel of notable L&D experts - including corporate learning executives, leaders from learning nonprofits and industry analysts focused on enterprise training and development. These select insiders were asked to weigh in on technology trends in corporate learning, the role of digital credentials and the shift toward new approaches in talent discovery and hiring.

The results are clear. L&D pros are adapting to “new normal” work environments with corporate learning tools that are increasingly digital, more mobile, and built into daily workflows. According to the panel, the most successful strategies will leverage analytics to personalize learning in an effort to provide employees with ongoing and embedded opportunities to learn what they need, when they need it.

Skills-Based Hiring

Over 60% of Insiders believe that more employers will make the move to skills-based hiring: choosing candidates based on what they can do, rather than degree or pedigree (more on the top skills to get hired in 2017 here). Can skills-based hiring help to address skill- and equity-gaps in high-growth fields? One Insider points out that “employers are very keen on the idea of using unbiased assessments to gauge candidate skills.”


Research shows that training and development is the most coveted job benefit for Millennials, so we asked Insiders whether employers would increase education benefits for workers in 2017. A majority (57%) predict that employers will increase education benefits more than traditional benefits in 2017. As one Insider put it: “Learning opportunities lead to engagement. The right training for the right role often leads to retention. Expect a ‘more is better’ correlation here.”

Digital Credentials

Does the shift toward skill- and competency-based hiring mean that alternative credentials, such as digital badges and “micro-degrees,” are gaining currency? 57% of Insiders believe that employers will place more value on these non-traditional credentials - and that job-seekers should seriously consider them as a way to build their profile. One Insider commented, “Traditional credentials are B-O-R-I-N-G. No seriously, innovative credentials are coming to signal innovation and entrepreneurship in candidates.”

Closing The Skills Gap

L&D pros agree that the skills gap is real and growing as workforce demands continue to outpace the skillsets of employees. We asked Insiders how savvy employers will build capacity to upskill tomorrow’s workforce. A whopping 71% predict that partnering with outside training providers will be the best strategy to get ahead of the widening skills gap; but many believe companies should take “a multi-faceted approach that combines formal, informal and social learning.”

Top Tech for Learning

Insiders believe that microlearning - content delivered in small, specific segments - and on-demand learning - content accessible at any time, from any device - will see the most growth among learning technologies in 2017. These scored far higher than other emerging technologies such as adaptive learning, peer coaching tools, or gamification, which, according to Insiders, shouldn’t expect much growth in 2017.

The stage is set. Are we on the verge of a transformative shift in how professional opportunity finds us or how we discover new pathways to success in our current job - or the next? Insiders predict that 2017 holds promise for innovation across the corporate learning landscape. What do you expect? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter!

Insider Methodology

This Corporate Learning Insider Report is a special edition of Education Insider, a regular report that uses a proprietary model to cut through the noise and provide real-time insights on national education policy trends, debates and issues—from a small group of approximately 30-45 Insiders who are close to the process. We collect anonymous responses from these influencers, enabling them to share their candid opinions and insights and provide a unique perspective on education. The views expressed do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of LinkedIn, Whiteboard Advisors, or any of their employees.