What Is Personalized Learning? (And How It Helps L&D Close The Generational Skills Gap)

What Is Personalized Learning? (And How It Helps L&D Close The Generational Skills Gap)
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Summary: Employees are not the only ones who think employee training is important. Most modern organizations have been investing more in employee learning. L&D budgets have been steadily increasing over the past few years and training is one of the most impactful strategies to support employee learning. Yet, the generational skills gap still exists today. If you're looking for a solution, you'll find your answer in personalized learning experiences.

L&D Leaders Bridge Skills Gaps With Personalized Learning

Quality employee learning experiences are high in demand. Today's employees want more opportunities for professional development. In fact, 76% of employees are looking for jobs that offer training and opportunities for growth [1].

Employees are not the only ones who think employee training is important. Many organizations have been investing more in employee learning. According to LinkedIn's 2020 Workplace Learning Report, L&D budgets have been steadily increasing over the past few years. The report also states that 83% of L&D pros say their executives support employee learning.

Personalized Learning Experiences: Gearing Up For The Millennial Workforce
Discover new approaches to better engage employees and prepare for the future of work.

This is likely due to the huge impact effective employee training can have on a business. Recent studies have found that investments in employee training can lead up to as much as a 24% increase in revenue.

However, there are several trends that are also rapidly changing the modern workplace. The millennial generation is now the largest in the current workforce. The way they learn is different than the baby boomers that came before them. L&D professionals are searching for new approaches to learning so they can better engage employees and prepare their organizations for the future of work.

One of the toughest challenges L&D professionals are dealing with is finding ways to close the generational skills gap. By 2022, technology is expected to have displaced 75 million jobs globally. Many of these jobs involve processes or work that can now be done with automation.

The jobs of the future will require a different set of skills including leadership and communication. This is a big issue if you consider that most of today's senior leaders plan to retire within the next few years. There is also a significant lack of employees with expert level communication skills in the current workforce.

The good news is that employees can easily learn these skillsets through quality training. One of the most popular trends training developers and L&D teams are utilizing to bridge the skills gap is personalized learning. Unfortunately, there is a lot of confusion about what personalized learning is and what it is not.

What Is Personalized Learning?

By definition, personalized learning is when the training content, the learning environment, and the delivery method used are customized to meet individual student's needs. The idea is that personalized learning is a student-centered approach to training.

The most common misconception about personalized learning is that it is self-directed by the employee. Although self-led learning or exploratory learning may be a part of a training plan, personalized learning is not always self-directed.

Personalized learning can be done in several ways, but the most popular approach is by using learning analytics and AI-enhanced online learning to create customized learning plans for each employee.

This method begins with a competency-based test that gauges what the employee already knows, what they need to learn, and how they learn best. This is tracked with advanced analytics and then AI uses algorithms to provide a custom learning plan for the learner. This approach saves time, increases engagement, and increases knowledge retention. In addition to these benefits, personalized learning helps L&D professionals close the skills gap in some more specific ways.

3 Major Ways Personalized Learning Helps Close Skills Gaps

1. Personalized Learning Content Is Relevant

A personalized training program does not include irrelevant information. In many cases, teams or departments have employees with different skill levels and abilities. In a more general training program, it can be difficult to cover everything everyone needs to know without losing the attention of some of the more knowledgeable staff.

A personalized training program uses AI technology to ensure that employees only take courses that are the most relevant to their role, knowledge base, and skill level. This improves both knowledge retention and engagement. This is especially helpful when HR is trying to close the skills gap. Personalized training makes it easier to train diverse teams with different prior experiences.

2. Customized Training Delivery Breaks Down Barriers

Today's global workforce is also growing rapidly. It is not uncommon for teams and to have different members in different locations or for different departments to have different first languages. A personalized training program can be customized to prepare content for users in different languages.

Personalized learning can do more than help bridge language barriers, it can also accommodate different learning styles. For example, some learners prefer to read through content while others find it easier to remember video content. Some personalized learning programs can adapt to these preferences, breaking down barriers that may make learning more difficult for employees.

3. Gives Employees Ownership of Their Learning Experience

Some personalized learning programs have a feature where additional relevant content or courses are suggested to the learner. This gives employees ownership over their journey. Providing choices is a way you can increase engagement and enthusiasm for professional development.

Personalized learning programs that suggest relevant content give employees more choices throughout their learning journey, but with guidance promoting inspiration. It also provides some structure that reduces the risk of confusion and information overload. Learning content suggestions can also help close the skills gap by suggesting courses that are relevant and help employees gain both the soft and technical skills they need.


Today L&D teams are challenged with figuring out how to train a global workforce that is rapidly changing. The current and next generation of employees needs quality learning experiences to stay engaged and to learn the skills they need to be successful in the modern workplace.

With technology continuously evolving and with boomers retiring, the employees of the future will need to be expert communicators, strong leaders, and be able to adapt to using new technology often. L&D teams are looking for talent management solutions they can use to train employees and enhance their skills.

Creating a personalized learning program is one of the best ways you can provide quality learning experiences and close the generational skills gap. To learn more about personalized learning, read the eBook Personalized Learning Experiences: Gearing Up For The Millennial Workforce.


[1] 7 Stats that Prove Training Value