Article: Learners in the driver seat

Learning & Development

Learners in the driver seat

Who owns the learning agenda today? It’s not the leaders and the L&D function but rather employees themselves who are choosing what they want to learn, when they want to learn, and how they want to learn to advance their careers.
Learners in the driver seat

As the post-pandemic landscape settles down, employees are taking the initiative and are now technically in the driver seat while the organisation provides them the roadmap to drive their learning… on their terms.

Esteemed panelists Ameya Sane HR Director Cimpress | Parul Varghese VP L&D Xceedence | Bhushan Kulkarni VP L&D ICICI Lombard and Peter Kokkinos VP APAC Udemy Business came together to break down the latest L&D agenda in the new world of work at People Matters L&D India Conference 2021. Below are the highlight of the discussion - 

Ownership of Learning Agenda 

It wasn’t long ago that for organisations, employees driving their own work seemed like an Utopia to have, a pariah dream. It was the challenge of most organizations to try and get their learners to be self-sufficient in learning. Yet in the post-pandemic world of work, there has been a seismic shift in how your employees identify what they want to learn and they're expecting their organizations to react to them. Even if the learning isn't necessarily aligned directly to what they do today to be future free mobility, learners are expecting these things to happen all the same. Now in this new world of work, all employees at all levels recognise that the learning curve is the learning curve and now is the time to take ownership of it to make the best out of the dynamic learning opportunities for their individual needs and career aspirations.

Who is on the L&D agenda’s driver seat?

One of the major points brought forward was the idea of two pillars supporting the L&D agenda in today’s time. 

  1. Evolution Landscape - There has been a dramatic shift in the learning ecosystem nowadays. One doesn’t need a school or institution to set up a learning environment. With the help of mobile phones, tablets and computers, the ecosystem has been around the learners that has significantly and has enhanced the choices the learners have today than ever before. Early on, there was a blended learning approach which many organizations today still continue. Now we see a phase where the Learning Management System acts as a talent platform for career thoughts. Career conversations about those things became very important. Then the next and current phase which will further evolve in future, is the Digital Learning methodologies wherein people are now consuming short bite sized videos, known as micro learning.
  2. Learning Expertise Theory -  For any ambitious employee, at the initial stage of the career they would need more input, but as they start practicing things in the learning area, they realise that they need some specific inputs like performance support coaching, mentoring and all those things are coming in. So this experience leads to impact, increasing realization of experience etc. In the new world of work, the job experience has enabled the learner to come on to the driver's seat and inform their superiors what they want to be prepared for, for example : technology infrastructure, learning context, capability building etc.

Another idea that was discussed was about the involvement of four parties that are actually in the driver’s seat i.e learner, manager, L&D team and the organisation itself. So when it comes to learning and development, each one of them is critical when it comes to upskilling or re-skilling. Each one of the parties play a very critical role to make sure that the learner is able to upskill and achieve their personal and professional goals professionals know. For example: the manager does the work of a guide, coach. The second comes the learning & development team, which is the facilitator or the provider of building a digital mindset and enables learners to up-skill. The fourth party is the organisation, which actually shells the funds to support these endeavours.

Evolution of L&D function in determining the learning agenda

In the current world of work, learning is equal to earning now. Hence the learner is in the spotlight every time in an organisation. Earlier, most organisations had annual plans where they used to sit with business members, understand the imperatives gaps, the scientific process of learning and then take a cumulative decision. But now, generated content learning is in action and organisations have no time to discuss in this fast-paced enterprise. Now the learners know what is the problem that they are facing and the faster they solve the problem,  later they are in a position to kind of cater to it. For example, a business development employee upskills himself with business legalities which would help him manage client servicing. Another example is the hybrid way of working where the manager has to be proactive when it comes to employee activity as well as sensitive to employee’s needs. Hence they need to upskill themselves in both respect and evolve.


The panelists concluded that digital learning can be enabled in many ways in an organisation starting with a masterclass which can be enabled by a senior leadership team and for which you need to have a very clear thinking and a business roadmap of how they are adding value. The same senior leadership can be provided with a learning plan which would enable them to invest resources in the L&D setup and enable employees. Building peer communities and properly executing micro-learning events would also enable to create a nature of learning culture and diverse capability environment.

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Topics: Learning & Development, Skilling, #PMLnDIN

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