Melbourne Business School News Five learning trends that are shaping the future of work

Five learning trends that are shaping the future of work

AI and economic change threaten to outpace efforts to develop the skills organisations need to survive. A new report explains why it's time to act.

Cover of Australian HR Institute Melbourne Business School future of work report | Melbourne Business School

Produced by the Australian HR Institute and Melbourne Business School, the report pulls together insights from AHRI's Future of Work Advisory Panel and identifies five trends that show where traditional professional development is failing and which emerging approaches offer hope.

Five learning trends

The authors of the report – Melbourne Business School's Chief Learning Innovation Officer Dr Nora Koslowski and Head of Innovation Teagan Donnelly – interviewed members of AHRI's advisory panel to identify the trends that are changing how people learn, as well as how learning professionals teach. They found that:

  1. Learning has become disconnected from its context, purpose and value
  2. It's time to define the diverse 'learning customer'
  3. Learning is an organisation’s sensing mechanism
  4. Learning methods are becoming dynamic and community driven
  5. AI is augmenting learning and learning practices.

In their introduction to Shaping the Future: How learning can help us embrace unprecedented change, the authors say the report shows how learning professionals and future of work experts are making sense of rapid change to help organisations adapt.

“The report gives back a sense of hope and agency to learning professionals who have been under pressure to do more with less. It shows how new learning methods, such as community-driven learning, can present rapid upskilling opportunities while making learning more democratic,” Dr Koslowski said in launching the report.

Australian HR Institute CEO Sarah McCann-Bartlett (right) with Nora Koslowski and Teagan Donnelly | Melbourne Business School

(Pictured left to right) Report co-authors Dr Nora Koslowski and Teagan Donnelly with AHRI CEO Sarah McCann-Bartlett

Changing learning practices

AHRI CEO Sarah McCann-Bartlett said the report was a timely guide to help organisations understand how to adjust their learning practices to the rapid shifts taking place around them.

"By its nature, change on the scale that organisations are now grappling with makes finding the best way forward difficult," said the head of Australia's peak body for HR professionals.

"In identifying what's working and what isn’t, this report will help organisations find the right learning path for them."

The report suggests organisations are too focused on short-term returns from their learning objectives at the expense of mid-to-long-term needs. At the same time, the workforce is becoming more dispersed, casualised and intergenerational.

It says greater agency should be given to learners, whose diverse needs can't be met by a one-size-fits-all approach. And the rise of peer learning, as seen in gaming and online communities, as well as opportunities presented by artificial intelligence, are allowing learners to choose what and how they learn to complete changing work tasks and to track how well they are learning.

Report contributor Dr Ben Hamer, who is an AHRI Board Director and chairs its Future of Work Advisory Panel, asked: "How do we understand and connect the roles of employers, individual learners and the government to create an integrated learning future that drives employers and learners to invest in learning that delivers for them, their organisations and the economy?"

Finding the right path

While not providing set-in-stone answers to current learning challenges, the report provides a series of 'Insights to action' and 'Questions for reflection' for each of the learning trends identified by AHRI's future of work experts.

The report also notes several tensions underlying emerging learning trends, such as between reactive and adaptive learning and AI, technology and the human element.

It then uses these potential trade-offs to help organisations imagine the kind of learning centres they could become – integrator, innovator, sensor or architect – as they embrace change.

"We are proud to collaborate with AHRI to present this joint perspective on the future of learning," said Professor Jenny George, Dean of Melbourne Business School Dean.

"From these insights, we put together a map of what learning could look like as you take your organisations into the future."

Shaping the Future: How learning can help us embrace unprecedented change is available to download at the AHRI website.

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