The era of AI is here, and while it is dramatically changing every aspect of work, the disruption it is causing in the learning and development function is nothing short of revolutionary. Research from The World Economic Forum projects that 61% of workers will require retraining by 2027. L&D functions of future-focused organisations are working towards upskilling and reskilling their employees in a way that arms them with skill sets to harness the power of AI.
To decode the latest trends in AI and L&D, People Matters hosted an insightful panel discussion in association with Coursera. This article is based on the conversation between Akanksha Kapoor, Head of Customer Success, Asia Pacific - Coursera For Business, Hemalakshmi Raju, Chief Learning Officer, Leader - Diversity & Inclusion, Reliance Industries Limited and Mukhvinder Singh Bains, Director - Learning & Development, Accenture.
Gen AI’s role in reshaping L&D
Generative AI is already impacting our learning journeys and experiences, but how we leverage and access it to build technical and leadership skills will determine its impact, explained Mukhvinder. Specifically, AI-driven learning can make learning paths more intuitive and engaging while providing learners with more focused goals that make cross-functional learning and upskilling easier. Hema further added that while we are still in the early days of generative AI, all signs indicate that it will be a game changer for L&D as the technology has the ability to not just transfer knowledge or increase awareness but actually build measurable skills in a personalised manner.
Generative AI has the potential to transform all aspects of the learning value chain – right from needs identification to impact assessment. In addition to simplifying learning journeys, AI can also provide access to valuable data about learners and trends that can be used to make more strategic decisions. The most significant benefit, however, is the ability of AI to curate content instantly and accurately, depending on the learner.
Akanksha further said that as AI starts impacting jobs across industries and functions, augmenting efficiency through new learning tools will be essential to capitalise on potential productivity gains. In addition to acting as a disruption, generative AI will also act as an enabler in the L&D function across different businesses.
Making learning more effective
Akanksha explained that Coursera is already leveraging AI to make learning not only more accessible but also engaging for its users. A great example of this is how, besides helping create higher-quality training content at lower cost, generative AI has aided in the translation of over 2,000 top courses on the platform to nine languages.
New-age AI tools have increased the ability of learning platforms like Coursera to deliver personalised learning experiences, remove language barriers and expedite learning journeys. The introduction of Coursera Coach, an in-platform chatbot that helps learners contextualise learning by providing summaries, examples of application and practical guides is the latest AI-driven feature to increase the platform’s interactivity.
Hema said that AI has expanded the use cases of smart learning tools, which include providing real-time feedback, increasing interaction, performing emotional recognition, recommending learning modules as per changing needs, translating existing learning content and offering just-in-time learning to help people achieve their job goals better.
Mukhvinder further added that any technology that can make it easier for learners to find the right resource will bolster the L&D function. He considers this to be the reason behind the rising popularity of skills such as prompt engineering, which can help people interact with AI chatbots more efficiently and effectively.
In the pursuit of organisational success
Speed, relevance and specificity of providing customised learning materials are all vital to building organisational agility, said Hema. Having sharp learning content and effective assessment systems to ensure each learner experiences a unique journey are critical to organisational success. Using AI to upskill the existing workforce is one of the key drivers for organisational agility, as being able to move fast, providing structured learning paths and designing assessments that meet a variety of proficient needs are essential for achieving business goals, Akanksha added.
She further said that AI had turbocharged the speed with which organisations and learning providers are able to offer knowledge that aligns with changing business requirements. For this, figuring out where you are currently versus where you want to be, with respect to a particular skill, is important for both individuals and organisations. While employees can use AI systems to learn new skills, organisations must aggregate internal learning data to help understand personal aspirations and help learners get productive faster.
How business leaders can take the lead with AI
Hema said that most business leaders are off to a great start as they are already championing a digital-first mindset. They should act as facilitators and enablers who can help people understand and adopt new-age tools while providing them access to curated courses and masterclasses to hone skills. In addition, having foundational soft skills, such as transparency, adaptability, quick learning, decision-making and personal agility, are important for leaders and employees to cultivate to make the most of generative AI tools.
Akansha explained that CFOs and CEOs have no options but to work with CLOs and play an empowering role in minimising the human cost of AI disruption while also identifying new ways to skill and engage talent. Business leaders are ultimately responsible for the transition to a new paradigm of work, and using generative AI as a learning tool will be a core strategy to achieve the speed and scale that’s required for this change. Research by Mckinsey shows how, today, CLOs have a massive opportunity at hand – to help their organisation capitalise on $4.4 trillion productivity gains from AI.
Mukhvinder succinctly summed up the discussion, focusing on how change must be driven from both the top and bottom. Leaders today need to meet the learning aspirations and goals of employees and deliver on the learning expectations to build a skilled workforce. No amount of push or pull will work if the core motivation and incentive to learn are missing at both ends.