No Image Available

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

L&D and the new career


Jo Kaptijn explains how the learning profession can support the apparent shift away from traditional linear career models and toward models that see adaptability, competence and broader experience as key attributes for those wishing to advance.

Compared to traditional career paths, there is a strong move from: ‘know how and job security’, to ‘learn how and employability’. Career moves become lateral rather than upwards and core skill sets are developed through meaningful job assignments, building relationships and learning ‘how to learn’ from these experiences. So what does this mean for learning and development?

In many organisations a number of key themes are emerging:

  • There are frequent misconceptions about what a career path will look like in today's environment.
  • Employees become 'blocked' (or leave) because they cannot reach the 'next level on the ladder' and yet do not have the skill-set for (or are resistant to) a side-ways move.
  • Managers need greater understanding and skills to be able to manage expectations and to support and coach their teams through the career development process.
  • Cross-functional learning opportunities, information sharing and networking are not fully integrated into a learning strategy that recognises the benefits, value and/or necessity of developing an adaptable workforce.

Technology-based learning should be playing a central role in helping to inform and support employees and their managers in career development management, however it’s vital that it is focused on the 'new' career models. There are three priority areas for learning and development:

Plugging the training gaps and building competencies
Training programmes need to focus on all-round development to help employees and managers recognise the value and necessity of variety and experience as stepping stones to moving upwards within an organisation. The necessity to change isn't just about the organisation restructuring and a new career 'model' - the ability to adapt behaviour to changed circumstances also lies at the heart of effective performance.

So what do training programmes that support the 'new career paths' look like?

  • Cross-functional secondments.
  • Long term project based assignments covering a range of functions.
  • Management level 'induction/development' training for employees moving across functional boundaries (e-learning and coaching).
  • Information signposting and recommendations (using read/write web tools to help self-directed learning and to help identify/fill knowledge gaps).
  • Portfolio development (e-Portfolios to build a repository of career experience 'evidence' as both a reflective log and a basis for continued career planning).  

Building commitment for change
For many organisations and individuals this change can be a stressful and challenging process, and as a result can cause resistance.

Misconceptions, confusion and negative perceptions about new career pattern changes mean that training and career support is not only beneficial, it really is vital. There are numerous creative ways that learning interventions can help people - moving them through the ODR's 'Commitment Cycle' model:

Moving people along the curve - and developing the necessary understanding, skills and attitudes for progression through each stage - requires creative learning interventions and communications. Assuming that the organisation has revised its career development planning process, individuals initially need to be aware of the change - what is behind it and how it will impact them.  Technology affords numerous ways (podcasts, emails, infomercials) that can be used to build a base level of awareness and understanding with consistency.
Next, managers: Their role is critical (they will need to be ready to both answer questions and concerns from their employees and to effectively support the career development of their staff through the new career model. An elearning solution that would allow managers to identify and develop effective personal strategies through realistic multi-media role-play scenarios would work well here - one that contextualises the issues (using real career stories), explores the process and models good behaviours (e.g. effective coaching and conversations). 
After adoption ongoing re-enforcement, possibly examples of career moves and successful experiences could all be shared (talking heads, info-bites, social networking etc).
Adaptability, performance and learning to learn from experience
Helping employees to adapt requires learning tools and strategies to enable them to:

  • Learn how as they need to (continuous learning)
  • Learn who (building networks/relationships)
  • Learn when/why (career management)
  • Learn so what (self reflection).

Challenges include helping organisations embrace the changes in 'new career pathways'. This will enable employees to become more adaptable and self managing in their careers, as well as to learn from a broad range of experiences - cross functional moves, short-term assignments, new challenges, projects and relationships.

New and old learning technologies: e-portfolios, wikis, elearning, and information sharing - to name but a few - can all play an important role in this future. The effectiveness will only fully be realised if they are all thoughtfully designed and interconnected with a supporting organisational learning strategy that recognises the changing shape of the modern career.

We need to empower employees and give them choices in their career development, all of which can only have a positive impact on an organisation, enabling them to retain talent and equip employees with the skills to respond to new opportunities and challenges.

Jo Kaptijn is a learning designer at Infinity Learning

No Image Available

Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.


Thank you!