What Your Peers Learned in 2019—And How it Can Help You Get Ahead in 2020

December 9, 2019

The biggest learning trends of 2019 and how it can help you in your career

As 2019 comes to a close, we reflect on the goals we had, the plans we made, and the lessons we learned. What did the world learn this year? Here at LinkedIn, we looked at exclusive data to find out what people around the world learned based on the 93 million people LinkedIn Learning reached in 2019. 

What did your peers learn? What skills did professionals like your boss develop and how can you get ready for management by learning similar skills? How do people like you—at a unique stage in your life and career—find time to learn and build the skills to get ahead?

Discover top learning trends to help you reach your professional goals and own the next step in your career. 

The Biggest Learning Trends of 2019

What was most popular in 2019? 

Trend #1—Career Starters and Baby Boomers Learned How to Code

An unlikely pair, right? Career starters, professionals with two years or less working experience, are gunning to be the next star developers—regardless of industry. They watched 2x more content on programming languages than the average learner. And overall, they’re major power learners, consuming 47% more hours of content and 50% more courses than their colleagues who are further along in their career journeys. 

A few of the top courses career starters watched in 2019 were: 

What does this say about the under 25 club in their first jobs? According to Jonah Stillman, Gen Z guru and LinkedIn Learning Instructor, it’s a mindset.

“Gen Z is the side hustle generation,” says Stillman. “The goal isn’t necessarily to either own your own company or go work at one—the goal is to do both. Learning to program on the side is a perfect side hustle as Gen Z can do their full-time jobs with some programming on the side.” 

Career newbies aren’t the only ones interested in developer content. 

Baby boomers, the oldest generation in the workforce, are also digging into developer content. Python Essential Training was a top 2019 course for professionals age 55 and older. When they’re not learning Python, Boomers hone their soft skills in communication and leadership. 

A few of the top courses Baby Boomers watched in 2019 were: 

John Turnoff, a reinvention career coach and LinkedIn Learning instructor, says this is a clear signal that Boomers are not done making their mark on the workforce. 

"This kind of blows up the narrative that boomers—and workers over 50 generally— are ‘done’ and set in their ways,” says Turnoff. “Hiring managers take note: likely some of your best hires in 2020 and beyond will be older workers like these who stay current, learn the latest skills, and bring their wisdom and experience to create bottom-line value."

Trend #2—Millennials are the Jacks and Jills of All Trades 

Every generation learned a lot in 2019, but Millennials take the cake for the most topics covered by a single generation. You name it: from business intelligence to communication to network administration, there was a Millennial who likely learned it.

Much of their preferred course material focused on how to become more data-driven in their roles. They watched 1.2x more content about data-driven skills like data visualization, statistics, and data modeling than the average learner. Compared to Gen Z, both Millennials and Gen X spent 22% more of their time on advanced learning compared to Gen Z. 

A few of the top courses Millennials watched in 2019 were: 

Trend #3—Gen X and Managers are Laser-Focused on Leadership

Gen Xers are highly focused on honing their leadership skills and watching more advanced content compared to the average learner. Our data shows that they consume 1.5x more content on executive leadership than the average learner. Surprisingly, Gen Xers do more of their learning on mobile than any other generation. In fact, they do 39% more of their learning on mobile than Gen Z colleagues.

A few of the top courses Gen X watched in 2019 were:

Despite busy schedules, data shows that managers did take time to hone people management skills across all generations in 2019. They spent 32% more time on honing soft skills, with an emphasis on people management, compared with other colleagues. Managers consume 2.3x more content on executive leadership skills and 1.8x more on talent management, mentorship, and coaching. 

A few of the top courses managers watched in 2019 were: 

Trend #4—Most C-Suite Learners Are Entrepreneurs 

Our data shows that if a member of the C-suite is taking the time to learn, they’re likely an entrepreneur, running a company with 50 employees or less. This group makes up 64% of the C-suite population using LinkedIn Learning. 

It comes as no surprise that the entrepreneurial C-suite group was 3.2x more focused on topics like how to raise capital or pitch to investors compared to the average learner. This busy group was also more likely to learn on the go and after-hours: 39% more on mobile and 23% more on the weekends than the average learner. 

A few of the top courses C-level employees watched in 2019 were: 

93 million people took time to hone their professional skills on LinkedIn Learning this year. Whether you're in Gen Z and just entering the workforce, a Baby Boomer leading an organization, or somewhere in between—leverage these insights into what your peers are learning to ensure you have the skills to reach your goals in 2020. 

*Methodology: Learning activity is based on user behavior from January 1, 2019 - September 30th. 2019.