At a Davos 2020 meeting on the future of work, Muriel Pénicaud, France’s Minister of Labor stated that learning is “…not a package that you deliver. It will be a continuous process.” Pénicaud  explained that, “People will have a range of skills that will be unique to each person tomorrow, because they will learn AI, but also cooking, and also soft skills. This cocktail of skills will make the difference over time.”

At the forefront of this is you, the learning leader, and it can be overwhelming to think about the task at hand. Organizations in every industry are facing critical talent shortages. By 2030, it’s estimated that the global talent shortage will reach 85.2 million people — a potential loss of trillions of dollars in economic opportunity. So it’s little surprise that upskilling quickly and at scale has become a boardroom priority and learning and development (L&D) is increasingly called to take a strategic seat at the table.

Third Parties Can Help

Thankfully, there are a host of third-party training providers who are ready to take on the challenge by partnering with in-house L&D teams to deliver upskilling that’s fit for the times and tailored to each individual. The majority of employees (77%) are also ready and willing to learn new skills or completely retrain.

Specialized Content

An L&D team might partner with a vendor for several reasons. First, they are experts in what they specialize in and they can provide training that’s uniquely tailored around a core goal or competency. Some suppliers, for instance, provide training in data skills across levels, ensuring that employees get a baseline level of data literacy and also upskilling budding data scientists in more advanced topics like R and Python. Because these training providers focus on one overarching topic, they can really build a depth of learning content that will otherwise take an in-house L&D team too much time to understand and curate.

Diversifying Content

Partnering with a third-party can also diversify your learning content. The future of work requires many skills, including agile thinking, storytelling and public speaking, data literacy and cybersecurity knowledge, courage, coaching, and collaboration. It’s impossible for one L&D team to understand the learning opportunities needed to build each of these, very different, skills.

Tailoring to Learning Needs and Preferences

Individuals also prefer to learn in different ways, so offering a range of learning formats will help to engage more of the workforce in continuous learning. Again, partnering will help L&D to provide many different learning formats to suit all preferences. Someone who wishes to build their coaching and leadership skills, for instance, will likely prefer a different training experience from someone wishing to improve their data literacy, for example.

On a related note, a lot of traditional workplace learning isn’t particularly accessible for those in minority groups, neurodiverse learners, working parents and others. What’s more? Young people are twice as likely as older people to be given opportunities to improve their skills. Additionally, people in cities are 1.5 times as likely to be upskilled compared to those living in towns. Having a range of opportunities on offer empower each learner to fit learning around their needs and commitments — and that can only come when an L&D team taps into the many training partners available today.

Improving Efficiency

Beyond providing content, partnering can also make L&D processes more efficient. Certain tools can enable teams to make better content library procurement decisions and curate pathways faster. There’s less pressure to keep up-to-date with new trends and innovations as a third party can help to keep L&D updated within their specialism. Those with well-resourced research and development (R&D) teams will constantly be testing and piloting new features which they can then pass on to their customers.

Open is Needed

To take advantage of the many services and vendors available, an open learning system is preferred. Instead of being locked in to a select number of vendors, an open system gives you the flexibility to invest in the solutions that suit your organization and learners best. It also enables you to experiment with emerging technologies and trends like experiential learning, mixed reality and virtual reality (VR). You have a more “futureproofed” system when it is open, as it can better respond to changing business needs.

Focus on Your Goals

A final point worth raising is that the vendors you partner with will be different to the ones other L&D leaders invest in. Every third party that you consider needs to align with a business goal.

The learning sector has a multitude of vendors that offer infinite learning opportunities. Today’s L&D teams are fortunate to have sophisticated learning technologies at their fingertips. So it can be easy to get distracted by the innovations and glamor of new solutions — to the detriment of your overall learning tech stack and strategy. Taking a business-goal-first approach will help you remain on track, and will mean every partner adds to your bottom line.