The Future of Work in Scouting, Shaping and Shifting Talent. The new opportunities for L&D Heads

3 min readFeb 7, 2020
People in a corporate classroom

Mckinsey Insights has recently released its study on The Future of Work in The Digital Age where it has highlighted that by 2030, 30 to 40% of all workers in developed countries may need to move into new occupations or upgrade their skill sets ‘significantly’. Significantly is a nice word, probably it’s meant to read ‘you don’t have a choice to learn everything that is new.’ Some examples shown by them are Amazon which has already pledged $700 Million to train about 100000 employees to be higher skilled professionals (such as training warehouse operators to be basic data analysts). Walmart has already implemented about $2 Billion in wages and training programs.

This also means a significant difference in the ways that L&D managers view training. Not to be critical about the function, but L&D traditionally faces some problems — such as budget shortages. While Marketing as a function (being revenue focused) can get away with flying budgets, L&D teams often need to haggle to get their basic course development costs approved. In some organizations, the Practice Heads come to the rescue — by supporting L&D interventions as essential.

The point is — this might just be the opportunity for L&D heads to shine. The reason to be at the forefront of all the action. And this would mean looking up from a 30,000 feet and overseeing the entire Learning horizon in a different light. However, the challenges of the job will also increase along with questions such as

  • How do you motivate such large number of people to upskill themselves. The current work pressures will not drop — besides you cannot well neigh tell them that automation will take over immediately. So, what other strategies do you use to motivate them to upskill themselves?
  • Also, how do you train at scale? How do you intend to do it fast?

Some interventions that L&D managers have already hooked on are:

  • Using digital learning platforms such as LMS and LXPs to train at scale.
  • Using a build vs buy model to bring down rollout time and costs. Take the most effective content available in the market and supplement it with your own.
  • Using webinars and virtual classrooms as means to bring in the speed of a classroom session in an online mode.
  • Using games to keep people engaged.
  • Using gamification as a means of driving faster outcomes
  • Measuring everything — starting from attention level of a learner in a webinar (many webinar softwares do point out which remote listener is paying attention and who has turned to a different screen) to learner performance in assessments.
  • Creating world class learning content — frequently and in byte sizes
  • Taking advantage of all possible screens to train the employees

However, these steps are also heavily dependent on how much does the L&D managers understand

a. The current business

b. The future business

As the Mckinsey article points out — a continuous transformation of the workforce comprise three phases

a. Scouting — where an organization quantifies its digital aspirations, assess future talent gaps and measure organizational readiness.

b. Shaping — where the organization designs future roles, creates a talent accelerator and sets up infrastructure for upskilling and reskilling

c. Shifting — where the organization scales up work changes, develops new skills and scales up transitions.

If you see the current Interventions that I have mentioned, they only consider just a small part of ‘infrastructure for upskilling and reskilling’. The rest of the hard work still remains. This also means a different level of engagement for the L&D Managers. They are no longer the business partners of the Cost and Revenue Centers — they need to be pretty much the leaders of them with a vision in tandem with the Chief Executive Officer or the other leaders.

So how is your L&D efforts shaping up? How are you scouting for the future talent gaps that need to be fulfilled and future roles that need to be created? Do share ideas at




Marketer, Instructional Designer, L&D Evangelist, Lifelong Learner, Intrapreneur