‘Trends for the new year’ – a buzzphrase that fills our social media feeds as companies kick off the year by telling their clients “What to expect in 2017” or “What will drive your business to success in the new year”. The fact is that very often we don’t see anything new or different, just reminders of what we should have implemented the previous year or perhaps the year before.

So to get you started from a Skills Development perspective, our team has compiled a brief list of what we think should be the ‘top of mind’ elements when preparing your Training and Development Programme for 2017.

The role of technology in training and development

Online and digital learning platforms are on the increase, allowing training and development to become accessible to a broader audience. Advances in software as well as affordability are also on the rise,increasing universal accessibility in learning and development. This provides organisations with the opportunity to access a wide array of training mechanisms for their workforce. It also poses a challenge as companies who choose the DIY approach to Training and Development may face challenges linked to sustainability.

Our advice: Develop a training plan that uses a combination of online and classroom-style training. Ensure accountability along the way so that the training implemented is actually adding value to your workplace.

Responding to the Skills Development needs of a multigenerational workforce

Millennials are now making up an average of one third (30%) of our workforces and Gen Zare starting to enter the workplace. The multigenerational workforce has become a very real challenge(potential asset) for the people-driving element of business. For both these new entrants to the workplace there is a common interest in learning and development and a desire to grow into new roles within the business. Companies therefore need to focus on the critical succession path within their business by ensuring the transfer of organisational skills and empowerment of new leaders.

Our advice: When designing your Training and Development role out, take into account every level of the business. Have open discussions with your workforce about what they would like to learn or where they see themselves within the business and help them shape/ plan the way forward.

Another look at work-readiness

The #feesmustfall campaign has brought South African universities to the frontline. This has forced us to relook at how we define tertiary education in this country, and about time too. With a  bachelor’s degree being the focus of many a school-leaver and perhaps less emphasis being placed on practical styles to learning like apprenticeships and learnerships, 2017 gives us an opportunity to relook at how business sources new talent for their workforce. Despite the enormous number of graduates entering the job market each year, there is still a skills shortage in our country. Companies wanting to leverage off these skills will then have to relook at what type of training they are implementing and might even need to look at specialised programmes for new employees.

Our advice: For larger companies adapting the traditional ‘graduate’ programme can be an advantage, but allow it to include school-leavers rather than just graduates. In other words let the learning take place in the workplace through programmes that offer both the practical and theoretical learning offering.

Investing in future leaders

Soft skills have been suggested as the intangible tool that drives intentional leadership within business. However too often Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and the struggle to quantify its ROI means that business puts it on the backburner as a ‘nice-to-have’ in their Skills Development strategy. We cannot overstate the importance of soft skills as a critical requirement in the workplace and one that is in great need as companies address the issue of leadership in their business. In addition, soft skills training requires continued practice and so cannot just be implemented as a once-off.

Our advice: Introduce soft skills training to all employees of your business as either a short course or less formal workshops and info sessions. Investigate with your Training and Development team or providers what leadership and management courses are available and consider these for your different levels of management.

In conclusion

Preparing your workforce is a sure way of maintaining a competitive advantage. And yes, we’re not professing to be giving you ‘one of a kind’ advice, instead consider it a gentle prompt/ reminder to getting the most out of your workforce in 2017.

About Progression or about author

Progression offers broad, all-encompassing strategic consulting, backed by a variety of world-class products in the employment equity, disability equity, skills development, training and recruitment arenas. Progression can empower any organisation to manage diversity and transform the workplace into a more inclusive, positive and dynamic environment.  For more information, visit