Looking Back at 2022 – A Year in Review from a Learning Perspective

smiling woman in front of computer2022 was a whirlwind of a year in which there were some huge changes with deep and lasting impacts for L&D teams and their approach to digital learning. So, what did the last 12 months teach us?

In this blog, David Perring, Director of Research at Fosway Group, looks at the highlights and low points of L&D in 2022 and the implications of key trends for the year ahead for learning organizations and our use of digital learning, skills, content, platform, and high-value learning.

What happened with learning?

The C-suite recognized that learning is a lever for organizational success. According to the Digital Learning Realities 2022 report from Fosway Group, nearly half of L&D professionals said their executive team see learning as critical to success. Only two percent say their executives don’t see any value in learning. Given the huge changes in virtual working and remote working everyone sees the importance of the L&D team in facilitating and enabling change, and this is highlighted by the fact that over half see themselves as effective at mobilizing their team behind their organization’s strategic priorities. If you are focused on the top priorities – you’re focused on what your leadership team values. But the challenge comes when L&D tries to articulate their value add. As many as four in five say they’re only just starting, planning to, or don’t measure their impact on performance. This immaturity is critical. If you can’t articulate your value add, then you’re vulnerable to cuts if budgets come under pressure.

What should you do about learning in 2023?

Get good at reporting your value add and fast. Those that do show a higher correlation to C-Suite support and alignment to business priorities, which should be invaluable in protecting investment in learning into 2023.  Last year 41 percent saw their L&D budget grow, but with a more challenging economic climate predicted, only those who can shout about their value add are likely to see their budgets grow again in 2023.

What happened with digital learning?

COVID had a significant impact on the adoption of digital learning, helping accelerate and build momentum for digital learning like never before. And 2022 saw many of us return to the office to a more hybrid way of working. There has been a return to the classroom, but we’ve not seen a decline in demand for digital learning. In fact, the intention to invest in learning technology grew during the year, with learning content taking the lead. A whopping 62 percent increased their spend on learning content in the past year.

Not all of that was directed at off-the-shelf or bespoke eLearning. The big trend was to think about user-generated content and how to upskill subject matter experts and internal teams to generate their own learning resources. So, digital learning became more of the everyday part of learning, from the grassroots up, by trying to make learning projects more self-sufficient. This makes sense. It’s an important way to help digital learning scale with demand. But overall, across L&D teams the adoption of learning tech is still relatively immature.

Let’s look at some key stats from Fosway’s Digital Learning Realities Research 2022:

  • 53% have been using digital learning for less than five years
  • 71% have made limited progress with Workflow Learning
  • Less than 20% think they are advanced with Blended Learning
  • Less than 5% are advanced in supporting Career Development
  • Less than 5% are advanced with Adaptive Learning

In fact, whether it’s about the learning experience, learning delivery, or managing learning, few are advanced in their approach and most are only offering a basic level of digital learning experience. So, beyond eLearning and virtual classrooms, there’s still a long way for us to go to truly digitally transform our learning. But of all the priorities that drive learning, it’s probably the “skills” story that became most pressing in 2022 – and for many organizations it’s an area where L&D have failed to have an effective response.  Four in five organizations reported significant skills gaps in 2022, but only half of our survey said they considered themselves a leader in skills development. That’s great news for half of you, and challenging news for the other half, because skills and talent are the number-two issue for CEOs after the economy.

What should you do about digital learning in 2023?

Enabling high performance is going to be the priority for the year ahead. Doing that well, by developing skills at scale, is going to be critical. It’s not just what people know, it’s what they can do. While L&D teams are confident at compliance and regulatory training, building the skills people need is a weakness for most with only 10 percent reporting they are good at managing skills. So, as we approach 2023, we need to start to create better learning to develop skills through more immersive practice, feedback, and reflection. We also need to target the skills our people need both today and for tomorrow. Now is the time to start to identify, assess, align, and focus on priority skills and think about the role of digital learning – not just as content – but as a way to build proficiency through practice that makes learning more about doing than consuming.

It’s time to step up to 2023

L&D for the future 2023 is going to be another year of challenges, but we’re used to challenges and we are survivors. We have all made huge advances in the last three years, but there are more we need to make for the challenges to come. It’s time to step up and embrace more innovation around skills, and more immersive learning. If you focus on being radically cost efficient, delivering exceptional business value, becoming intelligence and data driven, fostering real relationships and a customer-centric experience, and get agile with your thinking – you’re likely to have a good year. You’ll be fit for the future, whatever it brings. And by looking back – we’ll get a strong sense of where we need to improve.