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L&D powers the AI future

The AI era is here, and leaders across learning and talent development have a new mandate: help people and organisations rise to opportunity with speed and impact. 

As AI reshapes how people learn, work, and map their careers, L&D sits at the centre of organisational agility, delivering business innovation and critical skills. This report combines survey results, LinkedIn behavioural data, and wisdom from L&D pros in the UK and around the world to help you rewrite your playbook for the future of work

Read on for data, advice, and bold ideas.

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Career development joins business impact on centre stage.

In a world awake to AI’s impact, skill building is no longer simply a perk for employees — it’s a priority for organisational success. So it’s no surprise that aligning learning to business goals is one of L&D’s top focus areas for the second year in a row. 

For example, E.ON UK is testament that ‘aligning learning programmes to business goals’ is key to organisational success. Read the case study to see how they have been able to shape change through L&D.

At the same time, a new priority demands attention. In a single year, helping employees develop their careers is significantly more important than in 2023, climbing from No. 9 on L&D’s priority list to No. 3. 

This year’s research will take a deeper look at how career development drives business impact.

A list showing the top 5 L&D focus areas for 2024

Show all top 10 focus areas

Show all top 10 focus areas

Additional L&D focus areas for 2024

6. Further efforts on diversity, equity, and inclusion

7. Improve learner engagement

8. Improve employee retention

9. Support employees through organisational change

10. Measure the success of learning programmes

AI skills and career development fuel success.

Infographic showing 4 in 5 people want to learn more about how to use AI in their profession, learners who set career goals engage with learning 4x more.

Moving forward, organisations will succeed by embracing growth as a virtuous cycle. Employee growth, through learning and career development spurs company growth. Likewise, company growth through business innovation, energises people to stay and grow even more. 

Three data points tell the story:

  • People crave AI skills.

  • They’re motivated by career progress.

  • Companies must embrace both AI skills and career development to energise and retain talent.

The C-suite wants to talk.

The door to the C-suite keeps opening wider. Learning is critical in the age of AI, and L&D is well-positioned to lead important conversations about business impact.

Likewise, company leaders are aware that learning is a worthy investment. According to the LinkedIn Executive Confidence Index, in the next 6 months, 9 out of 10 global executives plan to either increase or keep steady their investment in L&D, including upskilling and reskilling.

The business case for learning is clear.

When it’s time to meet with executives, L&D pros have a powerful new data set. New LinkedIn research demonstrates how learning drives desirable business outcomes. New LinkedIn research demonstrates how learning drives desirable business outcomes. This analysis uses LinkedIn platform data to score companies on a learning culture index based on:

  • Size of L&D team
  • Rate of employee skill development
  • Volume of learning-related posts on the LinkedIn platform

It then assesses the companies’ performance on critical talent metrics. The findings are striking. Companies with strong learning cultures see higher rates of retention, more internal mobility, and a healthier management pipeline compared to those with lower levels of commitment.

Line graph showing the relationship between learning culture and business outcomes. Learning culture has a positive impact on retention, internal mobility, and promotions to management.

Learning amplifies connection and purpose.

Another talking point: learning is a secret sauce for camaraderie and meaning. As organisations continue to grapple with how best to engage dispersed and diverse teams, learning enhances people’s sense of connection and significance in their work. 

In short, organisations that invest in learning will reap the reward of having people who are more invested in their organisation’s success.

7 in 10 people in the UK say learning improves their sense of connection to their organisation.
4 in 5 people in the UK say learning adds purpose to their work.
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To thrive in the AI era, companies must empower everyone to grow.   

Tomorrow’s success requires skills agility — harnessing the right skills at the right time for the right work. 

To unlock skills agility for their organisations, L&D pros must first let go of time-consuming tasks of the past — like labouring over custom content and sweating through lengthy training sessions. AI holds great promise for personalisation, allowing more individuals to chart their professional destinies. 

Likewise, career development and internal mobility programmes that align individual aspirations with organisational business priorities represent the path to accelerated progress. 

Let’s look at what’s helping organisations build nimble and adaptable skills at scale.

Large-scale upskilling programmes continue to lag in the UK.

Before we examine what’s accelerating skills agility, let’s look at what’s not. For the third year in a row, weighty initiatives (expensive, one-size-fits-all programmes that aim to reskill hundreds or thousands of employees at once) are still at the planning and activation stages. Each year, fewer than 5% have advanced far enough to measure success. 

The Harvard Business Review sums it up well: “Among [companies] that have embraced the reskilling challenge, only a handful have done so effectively, and even their efforts have been subscale and of limited impact.” 

On a more positive note, LinkedIn data shows a 2 percentage point growth in measurement stage between 2022 and 2024.

Advania UK (formerly Content + Cloud) is guiding the way in the UK, when it comes to upskilling. By adopting LinkedIn Learning, they have a suite of custom content to empower their employees and foster a growth and learning mindset. Read the case study.

A bar graph showing the percentage of organisations working to implement large-scale learning programs from 2022 to 2024.

Career goals add speed to skill building.

Increasingly, the best approach to skill building looks to be dynamic, efficient, and tailored to individual career motivations. It’s no wonder that career development popped as a rising priority at the top of this report. 

And when individual career development aligns with a company's priorities, people and organisations build the critical, future-facing skills to navigate constant change.

Infographic showing top reasons to spend more time learning in 2024.

The right support spurs individual progress.

This year’s research delves into the state of career development across the globe, finding that about 43% of organisations in the United Kingdom have mature career development initiatives — meaning they invest in career programmes that yield positive business results

Companies in this category prioritise learning (69% have online learning programmes). They also offer programmes that put individuals' career goals front and centre (leadership development, shared internal jobs, mentorship, individual career plans, and mobility).

Bar graph showing five key career development practices and percentage of companies using specific programs.

Gen Z wants to grow, even more than other generations.

By nature, younger workers start in entry-level jobs and are the hungriest for advancement. Companies that want to attract and engage Gen Z, the rising cohort of workers born after 1996, are wise to tap into the generation’s passion for progress. If there’s any doubt about whether Gen Z wants to learn and grow, the numbers from the research add clarity.

Bar graph showing importance of learning for career progression to Gen Z versus other generations.

Coaching is popular. AI can expand its scale.

A first step to empower people to make career progress starts with a simple piece of advice: your future belongs to you. 

Re-enter AI. In the years ahead, AI will become more common as a coach advisor, or problem-solving co-pilot. While AI-powered coaching is not the only resource companies can tap into, it could be the answer to a problem that's dogged L&D pros: how to provide personalised career development at scale.

In the UK, 47% of companies are investing in career mentoring and coaching as a way to boost employee retention.

The green shoots of internal mobility still require nurturing.

In the UK, 27% of organisations have internal mobility programs. Only 14% of employees in the UK have strong confidence in their ability to make an internal move.

Most learning leaders see the rising potential of internal mobility. Companies that encourage employees to explore and stretch into different internal roles reap higher retention rates, a more agile pool of workforce skills, and employees with deeper cross-functional knowledge. 

But many companies are still at the starting line, seeking the right cultural shifts to help employees overcome common barriers, such as bias in favour of external hiring, and managers who hoard talent. 

Top tip: don’t get bogged down trying to build the perfect internal mobility program. Brainstorm small steps your organisation can take today.

Mobility takes a village and merits a dedicated leader.

Because internal mobility is a newer goal for many, the question of where it sits in an organisation’s structure can be muddy. Does talent acquisition lead these efforts or L&D, or another group?

Two things are clear:

Shared leadership is common. For more than a third of organisations globally, internal mobility is shared between two or more roles and often includes the head of HR.

Ownership frequently sits at the top of human resources. In almost half (45%) of organisations across EMEA, the head of HR owns or co-owns responsibility for leading mobility.

A bar graph showing who leads internal mobility in organisations.

L&D can seize the day and lead the way.

87% of L&D pros in the country say they can show business value by helping employees gain skills to move into different internal roles.

Let’s revisit two of the focus areas at the top of the report. For organisations looking to align learning with business goals and help employees develop their careers, internal mobility stands out as an effective solution. 

L&D can help people and businesses assess where skills are needed. Then they can equip people to move to new roles where their skills can grow and develop in sync with business needs — the very definition of skills agility.

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Impactful tactics — and bold ideas — inspire a brighter future.

While learning leaders face daunting demands, it pays to cultivate a purposeful vision. Agile skills are the most valuable gift you can give to people, to your organisation, and to yourself. 

Read on for actions to prioritise today and ideas to inspire tomorrow.

Priority 1
Lean in to analytics.

As shared earlier in the report, aligning learning programmes to business strategies is one of L&D’s top priorities for the second year in a row. It’s no surprise that L&D pros are cultivating their data literacy.

54% more L&D pros globally list analytical skills on their LinkedIn profiles compared to a year ago.

Priority 2
Build the right metrics.

Aligning learning to business objectives is still a new muscle for L&D pros. Many are still preoccupied with “vanity metrics,” such as employee satisfaction or the number of trainings delivered (regardless of efficacy). 

Success starts with small experiments to gauge progress on critical priorities. For those who do chart business outcomes, productivity and performance are the most common objectives.

Bar graph showing how L&D tracks business impact by specific business improvements tied to learning.

Priority 3
Polish your human skills for the age of AI.

Taking a deeper dive into skill trends, we see L&D pros globally adding a range of similar human skills (or soft skills) to meet the demands and opportunities of the AI era. 

At the risk of stating the obvious, don’t forget to prioritise your own learning.

In the UK, 89% of L&D pros agree that human skills, or soft skills, are increasingly important.
Infographic showing soft skills with the highest growth rates among L&D pros from October 2022 to October 2023. Interpersonal Skills grew by 73%, presentation skills by 64%, problem solving by 57%, and people management by 57%.

Priority 4
Embrace the power of constant growth.

As skills evolve to meet AI opportunities, learning and growth will be central to jobs. 

Increasingly, daily work will include microlearning (or even “nanolearning”) — short bursts of instruction to help people make progress in small bites. Engaging, personalised, and flexible learning in the flow of work helps people solve specific problems and invest in their futures without dropping a ball. 

As you prepare yourself and your organisation for the age of AI, take inspiration in the six bites below. The thoughts are succinct, but the visions are big.

In the UK, 40% of L&D teams plan to deploy microlearning programs in 2024.
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Read methodology & acknowledgements.

Show all top 10 focus areas


Survey data

The LinkedIn Learning 2024 Workplace Learning Report surveyed 1,636 L&D and HR professionals with L&D responsibilities who have some influence on budget decisions, and 1,063 learners. Surveyed geographies include: North America (United States, Canada); South America (Brazil); Asia-Pacific (Australia, New Zealand, India, Japan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Hong Kong); and Europe (United Kingdom, Ireland, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland).

LinkedIn Learning product research

The insight that states, “Globally, learners who set career goals engage with learning 4x more than those who don’t set goals” is based on studying a cohort of learners who initiated their LinkedIn Learning account between February 6 and February 10, 2023. We tracked engagement of these learners for the following 3 months and compared the difference in engagement levels for time spent learning between learners who did vs. did not set a career goal.

LinkedIn platform insights

Behavioural insights for this report were derived from the billions of data points generated by the 900 million members in over 200 countries on LinkedIn today. Specific analyses:

Fastest Growing Skills Data

This analysis looks at the Fastest Growing Skills among L&D professionals (globally) between October 6, 2022, and October 6, 2023. “Fastest Growing Skills” are the skills that have seen the largest year-over-year growth among L&D professionals specifically. One way to interpret these findings is to view fastest growing skills as the skills that are already important today — the skills that many members in a given population are developing and adding to their profiles.


Impact of Learning Culture

To determine whether companies have a stronger or weaker learning culture, we calculated the deciles to which they belong in each of the following categories and created a simple scoring index that assigned more points to companies demonstrating these components of learning culture, and fewer points to companies not demonstrating as many components of learning culture: 

  • Skills development: the median number of skills employees added to their profile while they were employed in a position at the company in the last 12 months.  

  • L&D team size: identified 40+ L&D occupations and the number of employees at each company in these occupations. 

  • Learning-related company posts: given the large volume of company posts, we used the Bernoulli method to extract random samplings of company posts in the last 12 months and quantified the number of posts that mentioned ‘learning,’ ‘upskilling,’ and ‘skills’ in English. 

The outcomes are defined as follows: 

  • Internal mobility: All data reflects aggregated LinkedIn member activity as of August 2023. We’ve defined internal mobility as any point at which an employee took a new position at the same company in the last 12 months ending August 2023. To calculate internal mobility rates, we included only companies with at least 100 transitions and calculated the median rate. 

  • Leadership promotions: We considered all internal promotions that occurred in the last 12 months by the company and calculated the percentage of leadership promotions that took place (i.e. member was promoted to a manager role or higher).  

  • Retention: the median amount of time that all current employees have been employed with their company.


This report was informed by insightful contributions from learning leaders around the world, to whom we owe our sincere thanks, including:

Jenna Alexander at Randstad
Ekpedeme “Pamay” Bassey at Kraft Heinz
Shruti Bharadwaj at Airtel
Naphtali Bryant at Lucas Museum of Narrative Art
Li Juan Cheng at Chint New Energy
Stephanie Conway at LinkedIn
Al Dea at Edge of Work
Guillaume Delacour at ABB
Sara Dionne at Comcast
Dorna Eriksson Shafiei at Atlas Copco
Stephanie Fitzpatrick at UnitedHealth Group
Justin Foster at Radian
Alexandra Halem at Mars
Dr. Terri Horton at FuturePath, LLC
Dani Johnson at RedThread Research
Crystal Lim-Lange at Forest Wolf
Christopher Lind at ChenMed
Chris Louie at Thomson Reuters
Edmund Monk at LPI (Learning and Performance Institute)
Geraldine Murphy at The Heineken Company
Lori Niles-Hofmann at NilesNolen
Amanda Nolen at NilesNolen
Nick Shackleton-Jones at Shackleton Consulting
Jennifer Shappley at LinkedIn
Manpreet Singh Ahuja at PwC India
Sophie Wade at Flexcel Network
Cat Ward at Jobs for the Future