The training and people development ecosystem is undergoing a revolutionary change, says René Janssen.

With advances in technology accelerating the pace of demand for skills, AI is not only presenting a challenge for companies in terms of how they upskill their teams but also an opportunity to integrate AI into the upskilling process itself.

With 50 percent of companies across technology, finance and retail sectors, implementing AI in their learning strategies, the process of upskilling is facing a big shift. The fact is, AI is already breaking the traditional boundaries of professional development and we’re seeing companies jumping on the AI bandwagon and brushing up on AI knowledge in hopes of it being a magic one-stop solution.

However, if AI is approached as a shortcut, rather than being embedded into long-term talent strategies, it can– and will– backfire.

A few years back, all eyes were on resilience and navigating extreme economic and geopolitical uncertainty. While these external challenges have not gone away, now is the time for companies to reflect inwards and align their business and people strategies in preparation to ditch the damage control tactics and face long-term challenges head-on.

Intentional learning is the new resilience

The integration of AI in the workplace marks a step towards the future of intentional and lifelong learning. However, with technology predicted to transform 1.1 billion jobs within the next decade, we are already seeing the repercussions of AI through an increase in fire-and-rehire tactics. In the first few months of 2024 alone, we’ve seen numerous companies announcing staff layoffs, including Google, TikTok and Grammarly, many of which will be making room for the next step in their AI integration by finding the right AI skilled talent.

AI is directly driving the shift towards skills that are more tangible, meaning that intentional learning has become the new resilience and upskilling is being redesigned to build teams with the relevant skills and capabilities for market developments. Lepaya’s latest research shows that the number of resilience training hours declined 23 percent in 2023 – replaced by intentional learning (which has increased 461% in the last year).

Further insights show that 83 percent of businesses combined intentional learning with at least one of the top three skills – leadership, collaboration and analytical thinking. With intentional learning, a supportive feedback culture, and a growth mindset, talent aiming to progress in their careers and enhance their skills can consistently develop as professionals and also positively influence team environments.

In turn, companies will need to recognise and reward these efforts by filling vacancies with internal talent and lessening their reliance on hiring from the external market. Stagnant career mobility is a major retention risk, so global businesses looking to retain high performing talent must be prepared to set out clear career pathways and growth opportunities for their employees.

AI as a catalyst for a new era in upskilling

AI is not only a desirable skill to acquire, but a vital tool in the learning process, especially with its ability to be tailored to individual needs. Adaptive learning platforms are able to continuously analyse learning progress and adapt to ensure that each person is receiving an optimal learning experience and getting exactly what they need out of the process. This not only enables more efficient training, but also encourages intentional, self-motivated and self-directed learning.

The global workforce is still adapting to the impact of AI technology such as ChatGPT. Over the last year, AI assistants have transformed people’s access to content generation and information, replacing many standard tasks and allowing people to spend more time refining the output of technology while increasing their productivity. Automating routine tasks promotes an increased focus on creative thinking, complex problem solving and development of interpersonal skills. All of which are becoming increasingly important qualities in what is an ever changing world of work.

The talent in plain sight

More than anyone, people leaders understand the world is changing faster than ever. Their challenge is not easy given that the shelf life of some skills is rapidly decreasing. Which is why the transition towards being a skills-first organisation is a vital one. A skills-based transformation calls for a company DNA shift, encouraging talent to take charge of their own learning while recognising and rewarding the use of new learning strategies.

Successful businesses in 2024 should not only upskill their people for AI, but also capitalise on its potential to support people looking to learn, practice and apply new skills in their work. AI has prompted workforces to adopt skills in resilience and intentional learning in order to grow with new technology. However, while resilience may have been at the heart of growth strategies previously, this year, it’s all about talent taking the responsibility of learning into their own hands.

Ultimately, learning teams need to continue evolving their talent engagement solutions and aim to match people’s career growth with their relevant skills. Rather than hiring externally, employers should tap into their existing resources to fill available roles– the talent right under their noses.

By providing more talent development opportunities to upskill and reskill their current workforce, businesses can leverage the best of both worlds and enable people to build long-term careers while decreasing the impact of oncoming challenges.


René Janssen is the CEO and founder of Lepaya.