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Stephanie Morgan 5 priority skills for learning professionals in 2019

A few weeks ago, I attended an interesting webinar by the LPI on essential skills mapping for L&D. One thing in particular that Donald Taylor said really rang true for me, and that was about how L&D fits into the changing world of work.

5 Priority Skills For Learning Professionals In 2019 23 01 19

What I took away from it, was that it’s actually a choice. Everyone in learning can choose to carry on doing what’s always been done before, but they run the risk of becoming irrelevant within the business. Another choice is not necessarily driving or creating the change but supporting those who do (or can).

Many in L&D really want to help their organisations move forwards but they simply aren’t confident enough in knowing what skills they need to support the drivers of change.

So, using Towards Maturity’s recent benchmark report and LPI’s learning capability map, I’ve pulled out 5 priority skills that learning professionals could use to support their organisations as they navigate the future world of work in 2019:

L&D strategy

For me, this is #1 on the priority list. Being skilled in learning strategy means you have the ability to align strategies with the business, develop plans to help the business move forwards and execute the relevant L&D tactics.

You can see how this might help you support your business in navigating the future of work!

Unfortunately, 45% of learning professionals say they are lacking in this area – this skills gap needs to be addressed ASAP! It might be tempting to think this skill is only for senior practitioners, but even if you aren’t creating strategies yourself, everyone in L&D is responsible for understanding the reason behind their work and how they and their department can support the goals and objectives of the business.

Marketing and communications

I’ve talked a lot about utilising marketing skills to engage learners and create a learning culture, so of course I had to include it in this list!

Marketing and communications skills for learning professionals are all about knowing your learners, creating a message that hooks them in and using the right platforms to really grab their attention. It’s an invaluable skill in this day and age where we’re competing for our busy learner’s time and attention.

And, I’m not alone in viewing this skill as a priority. In the Towards Maturity benchmark, 90% of learning professionals rated this as a priority skill, but only 40% claim to have it. Similar findings date back to 2016, so it really is about time we address this skills gap.

Learning technology

20 years ago, it was all about classroom delivery. And although that is still an important aspect of our profession, digital and learning technology is rapidly outpacing traditional methods of learning.

And, unfortunately, a lot of learning professionals are struggling to keep up, with 60% saying they don’t have learning technology skills, but 90% saying it’s a priority.

So, what does this skill actually involve?

It starts with (you guessed it!) strategy. The ability to manage technology strategies, roadmaps and tools that can be used to meet the needs of the business today, and to support its changes and innovations of the future.

Data analytics

The dreaded data analytics. It sounds scary and unknown but it’s actually quite straight forward. It’s about using the data you have from your learners, your solutions and the business to help you make better decisions.

This is one of the lowest recorded skills by Towards Maturity, with a huge 70% of learning professionals saying they don’t yet have this skill.

Digital transformation is reaching more and more businesses, so the need for L&D to be equipped with this skill is only going to keep rising over the next few years.


This is another skill that causes a lot of headaches in L&D, but unfortunately, we can’t ignore ROI anymore. A staggering 100% of learning professionals who took part in the Towards Maturity research agree with this sentiment as they all rated evaluation as a priority skill to learn.

We’re in an age now where metrics are everything. We now have the ability to prove value and ROI to the board, so why aren’t we? It not only increases our budgets and our reputation within the organisation, but it will also help us do our jobs better.

Evaluation as a skill means defining, measuring and interpreting the impact learning has on the organisation’s performance. Simply put, the board just wants to understand the value the learning has added to the business.

*      *      * 

So, there we have it. 5 skills learning professionals could confidently get behind developing in 2019. There is a need and a market for all of them, it’s just about understanding which apply to you and your organisation.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the future skillset of a learning professionals, why not take a look at our expert whitepaper ‘Overcoming modern day challenges for L&D’.

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Stephanie Morgan FLPI, Director of Learning Solutions, Bray Leino Learning

Sharing ideas and observations to help improve performance.

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