Do you already have a long to-do list for 2024? Is learning and skills development on it?
If not, it should be. In a workplace environment increasingly prioritising skills over qualifications, your job success and future career depend on it. Discover how you can navigate the many different learning options to ensure your investment will deliver tangible results in our essential guide to prepare you for 2024 and beyond.
Reading time: 6 minutes
Dana’s team has been so busy futureproofing the skills of others, they’ve neglected their own L&D team’s skills development.
Although your 2024 objectives and agenda may be quite different from Dana’s, you’ve probably already got a long to-do list. If it’s not high priority, investing in your learning and development should be. Why? Your future career depends on it, with organisations increasingly shifting to a skills-based model and recruitment. One where qualifications take secondary importance to skills and highly skilled talent will be greatly valued and sought after.
So, how exactly should you navigate your professional skills development journey in 2024? It can be challenging to know which courses, programmes and learning methods to choose. Then there’s the question of time (and energy) – and whether your investment in learning will deliver tangible results. All crucial considerations. But they shouldn’t prevent you from prioritising your professional development.
To help you prepare for the year ahead, we’ve identified the top learning methods to developing the skills you need – now and into the future.
1. Learning in the flow of work
Need in integrate learning and skills development into your everyday work tasks? You’re not alone. Learning in the flow of work was the most popular learning method for 2024, according to 90% of respondents in a British Council survey. Think on-demand videos or tips, collaborative projects, communities of practice, or reading articles and reports and listening to podcasts.
Overall, learning in the flow of work eliminates the need for a dedicated time for training, offering other significant advantages:
Learning exactly when needed allows you to quickly apply new skills and knowledge. As your skills advance, you can adapt the learning methods you use. They can be micro or nano learning, dedicated to specific skills required in the moment. Find out what options you have available in your work environment. How accessible are they? Do they meet your needs? Can they be easily adjusted and integrated into your workflow?
When you learn in the flow of work, there is greater potential for continuous skill development. You can immediately apply the skills you learn, boosting productivity. Be careful not to overload yourself with too many learning tasks that might interfere with your main responsibilities. Aim for a balanced approach to maintain your optimal learning capacity and productivity levels.
Staying current with industry trends
Learning in the flow of work ensures your skills are relevant and gives you a competitive edge. Being proactive with your workplace learning can prevent your skills from becoming obsolete. But you must make the most of your learning time. Engage in activities that closely align with your professional goals and the evolving demands of your role. Prioritise relevant trends to avoid feeling overwhelmed by information.
Continuous learning support
Involving colleagues, mentors, or industry leaders in your learning journey can support you throughout your continuous learning journey at work. These relationships can lead to mentorship opportunities or peer-to-peer support to help you stay motivated and navigate challenges. Ensure, however, that learning exchanges are balanced. Avoid taking too much time or advice without reciprocating or contributing value in return.
2. Coaching and mentoring
If you want individual guidance on your learning journey, consider coaching and mentoring. 87% of survey respondents reported that they will work on skills development with coaches or mentors in 2024.
But what’s the difference between coaching and mentoring? A trained coach facilitates self-discovery, goal setting and a strategic approach to achieving those goals – through questioning, active listening and feedback. Mentoring involves a more experienced or knowledgeable person, who provides guidance, advice and support. A mentor shares their knowledge, experiences and insights to aid your development.
What are the main benefits?
Personalised learning experience
Coaches and mentors can align their approach more closely with your individual needs. You can focus on specific areas or skills you want to develop, ensuring targeted learning. So, it’s critical that you choose coaches and mentors that demonstrate an ability to adapt to your individual needs and preferences.
Goal-oriented learning methods
You not only set clear, achievable objectives with your coach or mentor, but also continually monitor your progress toward achieving them. Receiving immediate feedback and guidance enables you to make changes and develop quickly. Early on, check your coach’s or mentor’s approach to goal setting, assessing their ability to set SMART goals. Seek coaches who provide constructive, supportive feedback.
In-depth exploration and development
An individual learning journey provides a deep exploration of specific skills and subjects. The highly targeted nature of coaching and mentoring can offer a rich learning experience. Before choosing a coach or mentor, assess the depth of their expertise. Do they possess the specific professional skills and knowledge you want to gain?
Agile learning structure
One of the advantages of coaching and mentoring is agility. Learning methods, strategies and topics can be adapted to address emerging needs or unexpected challenges. This level of flexibility allows for more relevant, effective agile learning experiences. When selecting a coach or mentor, discuss their approach to ensure it allows for agility and adaptability.
Flexible scheduling and pace
Learning sessions can be set to meet your availability and individual time constraints. You can avoid an unmanageable learning workload by determining the right level to match your needs and capacity. It’s critical to confirm the timing and desired pace with your coach or mentor. Determine if they can be flexible to meet your needs without compromising the overall learning experience.
3. Formal learning
While learning in the flow of work, coaching and mentoring are increasing in popularity, formal learning is still valued, with 84% of survey respondents planning to take instructor-led courses or workshops, use online learning resources, or work towards a qualification this year.
Formal learning can provide a structured, guided approach to gaining knowledge and skills. For those seeking an organised learning experience with clear objectives, formal learning can deliver many tangible benefits:
Created by experts, formal learning is well-organised, comprehensive and targeted. A well-designed curriculum provides a strong foundation supported by in-depth insights. How do you evaluate whether a particular course or workshop suits you? It must be relevant to your needs and career goals to achieve maximum practical benefit.
Targeted formal learning performs best when it goes beyond theory. It enables you to apply learning to your specific context and find ways to tackle complex challenges within your organisation. Choose courses that give you the opportunity to work on your own case studies, projects or scenarios for the most tangible results.
Having access to expert trainers for guidance, clarification and feedback is an invaluable benefit of formal learning programmes. Remember to review the trainers’ profiles, expertise and level of support they will provide during your learning experience.
Collaborative learning and professional connections
Interacting with peers in a formal learning environment can create a collaborative learning experience. One that offers diverse perspectives, encourages teamwork and develops communication skills. Seek learning programmes that involve active engagement and interaction and check whether there are opportunities for networking with industry leaders and other participants.
Professional qualifications and certifications allow you to validate your newly gained knowledge and skills. Choose formal learning programmes from reputable institutions to boost the credibility and value in the education or training you receive. It will help you gain trust in your abilities and your expertise within the industry and among your peers.
Your 2024 skills development journey
2024 promises to be another dynamic year in the world of work. So, there’s no better time than right now to prioritise your own skills development. No matter your course of action – formal learning, coaching or mentoring or learning in the flow of work – embrace a mindset of continuous learning. It will enable you to stay relevant today, and into the future.
British Council has over 80 years’ experience of partnering with organisations and individuals in over 200 countries. Our four-step approach to skills gap analysis, learning design, delivery and evaluation supports L&D teams to navigate the upskilling process and empower teams with skills that make a difference.