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LEARN Recap: The Future of Learning & Development

At our half-day virtual summit, WorkRamp LEARN, we spoke with Josh Bersin, Global Industry Analyst and CEO of The Josh Bersin Company, about the future of corporate learning and development (L&D). 

Discover Josh’s insights on the economic value of learning for organizations—and how to remain competitive as the landscape continues to evolve. Wherever your organization falls on his maturity model, which we’ll cover (along with much more) in this recap, it’s essential to position yourself for long-term L&D success. 

Why learning is a powerful investment in 2023 (and beyond)

“Learning has multiple purposes,” Josh says. “It’s a business tool to train people to do new jobs. It’s a professional tool to advance your career, and it’s also an engagement tool to give you a sense of belonging and growth in your personal life.” 

He also points to research showing a link between continuous learning and financial success for businesses and individuals. That means, he says, “investment in learning is a never-ending opportunity, even during recessions.” 

Whether it’s formal or informal, involves upskilling or reskilling your team, or takes the form of employee training, we all know that continuous and engaged learning is critical. 

The real question for Josh (and all organizations) is, what’s the future of learning and where is L&D headed next? 

The corporate learning maturity model: 4 levels of L&D excellence

“One of the things we do in our research,” Josh says, “is create what we call ‘maturity models.’ And when you look at the responses from all these companies and you [group] them into statistical clusters, you end up with these four categories.” 

So which category does your organization belong in? 

  • Category 1: Programmatic Training. Organizations that focus heavily on building programmatic training, such as new sales rep training or product training
  • Category 2: Self-Directed Learning. Organizations that use democratized learning and provide access to a wide range of educational content—for instance, licensing LinkedIn or Skillsoft and providing various forms of training, such as management training or technical training 
  • Category 3: Tailored Development. Organizations that need special programs tailored to address particular challenges, such as specific operational or performance challenges
  • Category 4: Facilitated Growth. Organizations that are focused on refining their abilities and positioning their team members for long-term growth

3 trends define the future of L&D: innovation, adjacency of learning, and increased focus on skills and capabilities 

If you want to stay ahead of the curve and remain competitive in your industry, there are three L&D trends your organization needs to lean into: 

  1. Cultivating team members’ skills and capabilities via capability academies 
  2. Leveraging adjacent learning to empower team members to develop and grow professionally 
  3. Staying abreast of technological innovations in the L&D industry 

Let’s take a closer look at each of these L&D trends—and how you can use them to build better strategies for your organization. 

Skills and capabilities 

Josh says that many companies are now framing L&D around the skills and capabilities of team members. More specifically, this involves identifying and then refining whichever skills and capabilities are needed to: 

  • Outperform the company’s peers and competitors
  • Help the organization—and its team members—grow 

So how do you approach this? 

He suggests starting by identifying the fundamental core skills and business capabilities; then creating what he calls a “capability academy.” 

“These capability academies allow you to take the formal education and training that might be in WorkRamp or another tool,” he explains, “and add to that developmental experiences, third-party speakers, stretch assignments, certifications, [and other] things that are needed to create a full learning experience.” 

According to Josh, the only way to do this is “to work with the business leaders in your company and facilitate a conversation with them to identify the strategic capabilities that define success in that role. Underneath the capabilities are skills”—and that’s where your L&D efforts should be focused.

Adjacency of learning 

Another major trend in L&D is the adjacency of learning or knowledge that can be applied to an adjacent field or position: for example, shifting from financial auditing to cybersecurity.

“Maybe I’m interested in doing something new,” he says. “Maybe I changed companies or careers, and the thing that I was doing before isn’t that relevant to the place I am now. So I want to move to an adjacent career. We call that a career pathway.” 

Read more: How to Create Career Paths for Employees

Harnessing adjacency of learning opens career pathways—and growth opportunities—for team members at every level. Why is this so crucial for businesses? Because, as Josh explains, when it’s difficult to hire or recruit talent—one could argue, for instance, in the current employment market—“the best solution you have is internal mobility.” 

“We can move people from adjacent roles into these higher skilled, higher paid roles through career pathways. And this is part of L&D’s job,” he says, “to understand what these career pathways are.”


If you want to remain relevant, you need to educate yourself about—and make use of—the latest L&D innovations, Josh says. 

“You have to train yourself… [because] the L&D world is changing very, very fast. VR, AR, all sorts of technologies are entering the domain. And the more you understand them and experiment with them, the better L&D professional you’ll be and the better L&D solutions you will build,” he advises. 

“The bottom line on this,” he says, “is that this stuff really, really matters. If you look at the companies in the top two levels of the maturity model… and you look at their financial returns in green, their human capital returns in blue, and their growth in innovation returns in orange, you see that they are markedly higher-performing companies.” 

That means one thing for your organization: investing in L&D is essential, not only to growth now but also to the long-term sustainability of your business into the future.

Read more: 7 Types of Learning and Development to Empower Your Team

Looking for more actionable tips and insights from People, Revenue, and Customer Success leaders? Don’t miss WorkRamp LEARN Spring, March 23rd at 9 am PT. Get your free ticket!


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Emily Homrok

WorkRamp Contributor
Emily Homrok is a freelance copywriter with over eight years of writing experience. She graduated from Drexel University in 2011.

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