Podcast | Future Skills Winning L&D Leaders Are Going To Need

August 5, 2022
June 26, 2023

The demands on L&D teams seem to be higher than ever and always evolving! That’s because they are…

​And more change is around the corner, so if you’re going to capitalise on that demand and help your organisation win, you’ll need to keep building skills, relationships and your L&D team.

But it’s not as simple as listing out skills you need to learn, which is why we’ll be going beyond the L&D buzzwords to give you some truly actionable advice.

​From applying personal context to your role to redefining terms like curation for what they mean today, this will be an honest chat about the future of L&D skills.

​Ross Stevenson (Founder of Steal These Thoughts) and Lavinia Mehedințu (C0-Founder of Offbeat) joined Nelson Sivalingam (HowNow CEO and Co-Founder) to pick this topic apart and answer your burning questions.

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Running Order

0:00 Intro to the show.
1:49 Where L&D is right now from a skills and future perspective.
9:02 How L&D can go beyond buzzwords and master context.
18:11 Curating content, people and career opportunities.
28:20 Audience question: Preparing to build future skills.
38:08 Audience question: L&D’s relationship with sales enablement.
45:38 Audience question: Internal vs external training.
53:09 How L&D can be better performance consultants.

7 key lessons on future skills for L&D

1. We’re not re-inventing the skill wheel

The skills we’ll discuss in this episode will probably sound familiar. Chances are you’ve seen them on lists for years and years. And that’s because these same things come up time and time again, but nobody really takes action.

There’s a few reasons for this, and we discussed some in the episode. But it’s really about applying the mindset of ‘how does it relate to my everyday role?’

Essentially, we’re saying L&D has to get better at applying context to the skills conversation – and funnily enough, that’s the first skills future winners are going to need.

2. Context is the master, and L&D needs to master its application

As Nelson pointed out, people aren’t picking up these trending skills because they seem disconnected from their roles and current needs – they lack context.

If your organisation is just asking you to deliver and track compliance, talents like data analysis and tech-savviness seem miles away from your day-to-day – so there’s no motivation to upskill.

And with L&D under more pressure than ever before, it has to work out why these skills are important and how to implement them – then it’ll do better.

Agile L&D is a great example of a buzzword that gets thrown around, and many people haven’t really implemented agile workflows because they don’t really understand the reason why they should and how they’d do it in a day-to-day setting.

Here are a few context pointers from Ross, Nelson and Lavinia:

  • You need awareness of your organisation and where it’s going.
  • Build an understanding of where you’re hoping to go in your L&D career and your career in general – that will help you understand how to future-proof yourself.
  • Think about whether and where you want to specialise in your skills.
  • Approach skill analysis as you’d approach that process of working out the skills your people need and want to learn.
  • Become more problem-focused and think about the North Star you’re aiming for.

3. We’re moving away from static job roles and toward more fluid skills profiles

We’re all personal brands these days, and it’s influencing how many organisations approach hiring. It’s no longer a case of a marketer needing rigid skills A, B and C, a more diverse set of skills will make you a more valuable prospect.

And we’re seeing this in the way that people no longer have 15-year careers in the same organisation or same role in that organisation. People do project work, freelancing and even benefit from internal mobility – both temporary and permanent – in their business.

4. We can curate more than just content: bringing people and career opportunities together

These two quotes from Lavinia sum up how L&D can take a more rounded view of curation and act as a facilitator between people and growth opportunities:


“As L&D, we’re connected to so many people in the organisation, and we get a chance to know them. Their strengths, their projects, their knowledge, and we can leverage that to facilitate social learning…”

Career opportunities

“If we’re connected to our recruitment counterparts and understand what they’re looking for, at the same time we have these programs where we meet people and know the skills they have and what they’d like to do next in their job. And then we can them tell about opportunities.”

5. When we do curate content, we need to do it with care

“Sometimes, there’s an overreliance on curation within systems… and less around the quality of curation. How does it solve a problem?”

Ross hits the nail on the head. Across our daily life, we’re using tools that throw up a lot of content – think YouTube and Spotify – but is that content going to help you move the needle or solve a problem? And who’s verifying the quality of it? The answers are typically no and nobody.

And the same applies to content libraries because do we really know the quality of all of it?

There needs to be a human and context element to curating content, we need to know it’s the right content for the people in our business, what we’re working on, our strategy and our values.

“Curation’s great, but it can be chaotic! How do we unpack that and say, how do we do this right, so we’re giving people the right stuff and not just more stuff? Because fundamentally, you’re just becoming a search engine.”

Stakeholders and business leaders want to know how the content you’ve curated has influenced performance or skills, not how much has been consumed!

6. Using The Three Es to build future skills

Ross did clarify he might have stolen this from somewhere else at some point, but he likes to use The Three Es to identify which skills are required for individual people.

  • Expiring: Which skills in your field of work are expiring and no longer serving you well?
  • Evolving: Which skills do you have a base level in and should be building on because it’ll be worth it in the future?
  • Emerging: What are the skills I see people talking about that will be trending in the next few years and how can I get ahead of that?

7. L&D needs to avoid the ‘McDonald’s Drive Thru Mindset’ when offering solutions

We asked Ross about performance consultancy and he made the great point that not everyone in L&D needs to become a performance consultant – Context matters!

You have to consider your career direction, the organisations and industries you’re working in. Plus, performance consultancy is really something we should be doing anyway, it’s all about how we can have that more solutioneering mindset.

Work with people to really break down problems! Because when people say they’ve got an L&D problem, it’s often not – it’s a deep-rooted cultural piece or business shift that L&D can play a part in.

So, L&D needs to ask better questions and the right questions to diagnose the problems people are trying to solve, the skills shortages and the other blockers to getting there. Then you can say, can I solve this from an L&D sphere or is it something bigger?

L&D won’t solve every problem and it’s not there too either…