The Biggest Challenges for L&D Today: Ownership and the Pace of AI

July 2, 2024 thehrobserver-hrobserver-learningandevelopment

Learning and Development (L&D) professionals face several key challenges—or opportunities, as Jo O’Driscoll-Kearney, the Chief Learning Officer at Majid’s Al Futtaim believes—in their mission to foster continuous learning.

In an interview with The HR Observer, O’Driscoll-Kearney identifies two key areas of focus which are the ownership of learning and the pace at which learning must adapt to advancements in artificial intelligence (AI).

“Learning in today’s fast-paced world is not the responsibility of a learning team. It is a collective effort that requires you to think about how you own your learning and that of your teams,” said O’Driscoll-Kearney.

Taking ownership in learning

Despite the long history of workplace learning, a persistent myth remains that learning should be prescribed by the L&D team. However, O’Driscoll-Kearney explains individuals must recognise that they must be accountable for their learning journeys.

An effective way to frame this is through the equation that looks at: leaders as advocates, employees as activists, and managers as allies.

  • Leaders as advocates: Leaders should champion the importance of learning by providing time and resources for their teams to develop new skills.
  • Employees as activists: Employees must take charge of their learning, seeking out opportunities and resources proactively.
  • Managers as allies: Managers need to support their teams’ learning efforts by embedding learning opportunities in day-to-day work and fostering a culture where continuous improvement is encouraged.

She explains that this collective effort ensures that learning is not just the responsibility of a centralised team but a shared commitment across the organisation. 

“You need to deep dive into each of those areas and be a growth champion, operational builder and a learning leader. You need to be your own chief learning officer.” adds O’Driscoll-Kearney.

The pace of learning in the AI age

“The rapid evolution of AI presents a formidable opportunity, as the obsolescence of knowledge occurs faster than ever,” she explains.

Therefore, the demand for updated skills intensifies with each technological advancement, making AI education increasingly complex.

  • Relentless pace: AI is advancing at a pace that makes staying informed nearly impossible without a proactive approach. Reports like the AI Index highlight the unprecedented surge in AI deployment.
  • Interdisciplinary nature: Mastering AI requires proficiency in multiple domains, making it essential for learners to continuously expand their knowledge base.

To tackle these challenges, Jo explains that companies must adopt a proactive approach to learning and segment training according to meet audiences not where they are, but where they can be. Yet, even with structured programs, she adds, individuals must own their learning journey, utilising podcasts, or self-directed learning platforms to integrate learning in their everyday activities.

Strategies for Success

  • Embed learning at work: Encourage practice spaces, peer learning, and integrating new knowledge into regular meetings.
  • Utilise diverse resources: Take advantage of various formats and platforms for learning this includes online courses, webinars, and informal learning channels.
  • Stay proactive: Make continuous learning a part of daily life, especially in areas like AI where knowledge evolves rapidly.

Mobile Talent

Finally, Jo emphasises the paramount importance of mobility in organisations as a lever of accelerated learning. “I have such a strong committed belief here that most people in your organisation possess the skills that you need, and people are often in the right house, but they are in the wrong room,” she told The HR Observer. 

“But deciding whether to invest in upscaling existing employees or hiring new talent should be very strategic and should be informed by research and data as opposed to gut feel,” she added. You need to see your people through fresh eyes every day.


The HR Observer

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