Co-founder Coorpacademy
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Individual learning pathways: why the future is learner-centred

It’s only by helping the learner take control of their own learning career that a future for L&D can be assured.

21st Oct 2019
Co-founder Coorpacademy
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businessman finding a pathway through a maze
iStock/TU-KA

Not so long ago, we were told by our careers officers to expect to work in the same job for life, and we usually expected to do that in the same company.

Fast-forward a generation, and for today’s A-Level candidates it is unlikely that they will spend their entire careers in one industry, let alone one company.

The traditional, single-track career pattern of the last century is gone. If you try and pursue such a path, you'd certainly have to move between companies and roles.

The world is changing fast and entire industries are at risk as AI and other technologies make new job roles possible and other ones obsolete.

All of us, as both employees and citizens, need a CV that reflects all our training and development, and not necessarily in the traditional metrics of a BA, an NVQ or City & Guilds qualification.

As a result, we now expect to re-train multiple times in our longer working lifetimes, and no one expects their college education to sustain them for their entire working lifetime.  

In parallel, in the face of de-regulation and major global changes, government help is less of a factor in supporting our life goals.

The reality is that we all need to be responsible for our careers and career development, and employers that want to work with top talent need to adjust their expectations and offers accordingly.

Today’s workers agree, which is why they put a high value on the training they receive, and training-centric firms find that investments in L&D equals increases in employee engagement, productivity, morale, and loyalty.

For millennials, who are a key demographic in the workplace, 87% find learning opportunities important when considering where to work.

Individual learning pathways are the future of L&D

A key value is going to be lifelong learning, hence the rise of interest in the individual learning pathway (ILP). This refers to the notion that all of us, as both employees and citizens, need a CV that reflects all our training and development, and not necessarily in the traditional metrics of a BA, an NVQ or City & Guilds qualification.

Converts to ILP claim that it’s a pathway about a whole career trajectory, incorporating tours of duty at this role, at this company, in this industry, at this side hustle, as well as numerous in-work and external qualifications.

Individual learning pathways are, it seems, the future of L&D.

This is a trend we are witnessing with some of the most enlightened brands we work with.

It’s clear in these environments how seriously employees take the notion of the ILP, which they say provides them with a sense of control and a roadmap for professional employability as well as fulfilment.

By smartly engaging every learner, individual learning pathways are a tool to deliver corporate training at very large scale, but also in a highly personalised way.

Learners also want learning opportunities that may not be directly related to their current job role or company, but linked to future jobs as part of their portfolio of multiple careers.  

This is also a generation of workers that demand a more modern training experience than the PPT-driven classroom instruction most firms have traditionally offered, or some of the e-learning alternatives, which have often simply transferred the classroom experience online.

Such uninspiring training methods deter students and make any attempt to persuade your staff you are committed to backing them on their individual learning paths fairly implausible. They desire a different sort of training course content too.

Occupations that rely on soft skills may account for two-thirds of careers by 2030, according to Deloitte – namely skills such as critical thinking, communication, and collaboration in contrast to technical competencies that are more reliant on fact-retention.

To be engaging, training to help ILP work needs to be accessible, mobile, always available, and delivered in engaging micro-sized sessions - and where appropriate, tools like gamification, online competitions offer ways to fire the imaginations of time-pressed people.

The learning experience platform (LXP) is a very powerful way to make this happen and at scale.

The LXP’s contribution

LXPs offer the right style of training experience plus the right type of content.

These are platforms that offer thousands of courses, and not just what the company calendar mandates but also what the employee knows she is missing: modules on nurturing her creativity, collaboration skills, critical thinking and communication skills, for instance.  

At the same time, if a catalogue contains hundreds of thousands of courses and choice and is not curated in some way, the sheer choice can be overpowering.

Users may not want the regimented learning structure of the traditional learning management system, but they did benefit from its structured help and prompts.

In the context of an LXP, however, AI (artificial intelligence) is a great benefit in tackling this challenge – offering Amazon or Netflix style recommendations about ‘what to learn next’, for example.

In this way, learners can quickly build individual learning pathways that are germane for them, acquiring certificates and other recognised measures of progress in the course of their learning lifetime.

Even better, HR and human capital managers get the advantage of deep insight into what learners are consuming and what trends in internal L&D demand are emerging.

Smart software allows the CLO to support the individual learning pathway in their organisations, helping their teams get the right platform for the kind of new learning our working lives now necessitates.

What’s more, by smartly engaging every learner, individual learning pathways are a tool to deliver corporate training at very large scale, but also in a highly personalised way.

Each pathway is adjusted to each and everyone’s individual needs while also being easily rolled out to large numbers on your team.

Interested in this topic? Read Learning transfer: why we need to see learning as a pathway, not an event.

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