Irish News

The increasing importance of AI (Artificial Intelligence) in Learning and Development

Neil Hughes
insight featured image
What will be hot in L&D going into the future? – This is the one obligatory question posed every year by Donald H. Taylor in the annual L&D Global Sentiment Survey.

Subscribe to our mailing list

Update your subscriptions for Grant Thornton publications and events.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the survey and it also appears to mark a transitional year for learning and development worldwide.

The recently published survey results show a return to focus on data and Artificial Intelligence (AI). ‘In some ways, it is as if the pandemic never happened. The rise in interest in collaborative learning seen in 2021 and 2022 has evaporated, replaced by a fascination with the use of data in L&D.’ – Donald H Taylor recently wrote on LinkedIn ,with the numbers showing a distinct resemblance to 2019’s, pre-pandemic results.

The Survey shows sentiment in Learning and Development – what people are excited about, and also what concerns them. This year, the answer is particularly loud and clear. They are excited about data, and its use in AI, skills management and analytics. Feedback showed some concern around strategy and delivery and as well as growing fear about budgets and the need to demonstrate impact and ROI.

The results show that, for the third year running, reskilling and upskilling remain the top priority for L&D. More surprising, however, is the fact that other top slots go to AI (#2), Skills-based talent management (#3) and Learning analytics (#4), all of which are supported by data. The rise of AI in particular, leaping 4.5% from #12 to #2 was the biggest change.

During the Pandemic a shift to online learning led to an increase in support for collaborative learning and coaching in contrast to the other, technology-focused options. This year, that has been wiped out by a surge of enthusiasm for AI, fuelled by the launch of ChatGPT, 8 days before the survey opened.

Most organisations are still adjusting to the world of hybrid work and remote learning. So the information from the survey results prompts some significant questions. Will AI and data be something that excites L&D professionals for a year or two before interest fades? Or will it be something that moves from initial excitement to general use?

Moreover, are we to assume that data and AI are here to stay and will have a transformational effect on how we live, work and learn, and therefore are L&D professionals ready for this?

Today, courses can be created much faster and cheaper using AI. If L&D continues to see its role as the traditional creators and distributers of content, then it will be under threat by AI systems which can create text, images, video, and more.

Organisations will need skilled L&D professionals more than ever in this AI-driven future, but their role will need to change to focus on the areas highlighted in response to the question posed in the Sentiment Survey - ‘What is your biggest L&D challenge in 2023?’. L&D will need to show the value of learning and its impact on performance. Better relationships will be needed with stakeholders to ensure learning becomes part of daily work and to secure and protect budgets.

These are the key challenges of the future for L&D. The question is, are we ready and able to tackle them?