Workplace Learning and Skills Development Trends in 2024

Megan Stacy Deane

Posted: February 2, 2024

Table of Contents

2023 was a year of transition for the world of work, one where the acute shortage of skilled workers – that the South African government has identified as the second-biggest impediment to economic growth after the crippling power crisis – has taken centre stage.

Yet, discussions around exactly what the skills are that South Africa needs right now (and how employees can acquire them) have largely been a hit and miss — both among business leaders and the government. The result is most local Learning and Development (L&D) managers are at a loss for managing skills shortages among employees and planning their training needs for the year. 

To better understand the L&D space in a South African context and to get the conversation around skills development going, we hosted a webinar titled Workplace Learning and Skills Development Trends at the end of 2023. We asked industry leaders, as well as our own leading voices, the hard questions about what the real organisational needs are, what the local and global trends are, and how they impact skills development in South Africa. 

You can download and read a report on these topical themes here. But, to summarise, here are the most salient points raised during the webinar and what we learned.

The challenges for L&D in South Africa

South Africa’s L&D challenges are uniquely intertwined with socioeconomic factors and evolving industry demands. Consequently, local organisations require a balanced understanding of how digital transformation, B-BBEE compliance, and industry-specific training needs influence L&D strategies — and many of them are struggling to keep up.

In the 2023 Deloitte Human Capital Trends report, 56% of South African respondents state that between half and all of their workforce will need to change their skills in the next three years if they are to remain competitive. But, alarmingly, only 58% of organisations described themselves as being prepared regarding how employers manage careers and deliver learning and development. 

The risk to businesses when they don’t provide skills training is low productivity, high staff turnover, and high costs, and it adds to the exodus of people who pursue quality educational and career opportunities abroad. But there is a way to turn things around, and we’re seeing modern solutions come to the fore in response to these issues. 

Pam Maharaj, Deloitte Consulting Africa Human Capital Leader, says: “As economies shift from an age of production to an age of imagination, they will be driven by creativity and uniquely human capabilities.” This is one of the most significant trends we’re seeing in L&D, both locally and globally — a shift away from focusing solely on developing the latest trending technical skills towards developing transferable skills that build professional resilience and adaptability. 

How to build a resilient and adaptive workforce

The LinkedIn 2023 Workplace Learning Report warns that if organisations want to survive and thrive amid economic headwinds, agility — which stems from developing a mindset of constant learning — is what leaders must focus on to build a resilient and adaptive future. The report highlighted the following four key focus areas for L&D:

  • Aligning learning programmes to business goals
  • Upskilling employees
  • Creating a culture of learning
  • Improving employee retention

With the premise that “organisational success depends on people’s success”, 89% of professionals say that proactively building employee skills will help companies navigate the evolving future of work. The report goes on to show that 93% of organisations are concerned about employee retention, and the most prevalent way to improve retention is by providing learning opportunities.

Global L&D trends in 2024

It’s not only what employees learn but how they learn it that is coming into sharper focus in the coming months. The global trends in L&D right now are:

  1. Humanised Learning that provides learners with personalised, meaningful, and supportive learning experiences.
  2. Leadership and Management that focuses less on authority and more on insight, values, personal accountability, and action. 
  3. Blended Learning that enables employees to unlock their full potential and personalise their educational journey.
  4. AI-Based and Adaptive Learning that includes AI coaching, data-driven learning analytics, and adaptive learning platforms.
  5. Continuous Learning to stay relevant and competitive. 
  6. Soft Skills Development that allows us to integrate technology into various socio-economic value chains effectively.

Addressing skills needs in 2024

In an era of rapid change and skills evolution, MasterStart stands at the frontline, offering insight and foresight into South Africa’s Learning and Development landscape. Our 2024 report is more than just data; it’s a compass guiding professionals through the complexities of workplace learning, skills development, and organisational growth.

To get full insight into South African businesses’ challenges in the L&D arena, the past, present, and future of upskilling and reskilling — and for sage insights from our subject experts and webinar panellists — download the full Workplace Learning and Skills Development Trends Report here

Enjoyed reading this post? Please consider sharing with friends


Featured Articles