TJ interviews: LinkedIn Learning’s Tanya Staples

Jon Kennard talks to LinkedIn Learning’s Tanya Staples.

Reading time: 3 minutes.

An area of concern for young employees is the business skills gap, in that school graduates aren’t ready for a business environment. How can we close this most effectively in 2019?

The world of work is changing—in fact, 91% of L&D leaders surveyed said that the skills necessary for today’s workforce are different than in previous generations. In today’s workplace, the most successful Gen Zers will be those who dedicate time to learning both technical (or ‘hard’) skills as well as soft skills like time management and collaboration.

To help them strike this balance, L&D leaders anticipate having to provide extra support for soft skill development: 61% of learning leaders surveyed said that soft skills are more important at their organisation, and that Gen Z will need more help mastering soft skills than prior generations did. 

As such, training leaders that are onboarding Gen Z workers should emphasise the importance of skills like interpersonal communication and team work.

Employers would be wise to place an increased focus on continuous learning as a way to stay competitive and innovative. 

Some innovative L&D leaders are even integrating online soft skills training in an employee’s first week on the job; others are partnering with managers to closely monitor and mentor young employees on a frequent basis to ensure they’re honing these crucial professional skills. 

What changes could the workplace make, that would benefit young people?

Gen Z and millennials grew up with the Internet, and were familiar with digital communication and technology from an early age. They were weaned on connectivity and near-instant updates to apps and hardware.

As such it’s no surprise that nearly half reported a preference for fully self-directed and independent learning. As a result, we’ll likely see more learning programs that provide employees the freedom to learn on their own, while guiding them on the type of skills required to succeed.

As the shelf life of skills continues to shrink, employers would be wise to place an increased focus on continuous learning as a way to stay competitive and innovative. 

Soft skills training is becoming more popular – is soft skills training still most effective in a face to face environment?

LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trend Report found that 92% of talent professionals and hiring managers believe strong soft skills are increasingly important in today’s workplace; however, only 53% of companies have a formal process for tracking soft skills development.

Mixing online soft skills training with face-to-face interactions is most effective for many reasons. Online training makes it more likely that the learner will absorb and apply the soft skills that are being required in every day interactions, it’s also easier to scale across large workforces and helps provide a mechanism for monitoring progress and competency.

In addition, only online mediums can enable the sort of fully self-directed and independent learning that almost half (43%) of Gen Z learners prefer.

With greater pressure on the workforce, how can L&D help make time for young people to learn in the workplace?

Creating more transparent career pathways that show the connection between learning and advancement, as well as offering a range of incentives, is important for this new generation. Designing a space, and specific time, that allows and encourages learning is key. 

Managers can also play a huge role in helping young employees understand the importance of learning. Here are eight proven engagement tactics to get Gen Z workers excited about their own development, and ‘manager activation’ tends to be one where you’ll see the biggest impact.

When managers are directly involved in employee learning programs – recommending courses, recognising achievement, etc. – two thirds of learners become motivated to spend more time learning.


About the interviewee

Tanya Staples is VP of learning content at LinkedIn Learning.


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