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Top L&D skills now include management, communication

Employers are putting soft skills -- such as management, leadership and communication -- as their top learning and development priority, according to LinkedIn.

Two things surfaced in LinkedIn's new study of learning and development workplace trends. They are that most HR managers expect learning budgets to increase this year and that the most in-demand skills for employers are so-called soft skills, such as communication.

The L&D findings from LinkedIn, which makes a learning platform, echoed findings from another study by IDC.

Last year, IDC surveyed 500 HR decision-makers, and more than half indicated that they would invest in learning management technology. It scored highest among other HR areas.

"In other words, the highest vote-getter in terms of intentions for future investment was learning management and development," said Lisa Rowan, vice president of IDC HR, talent and learning strategies research.

LinkedIn found in its survey that only 8% of L&D professionals expect their budget to decrease this year, with 41% expecting to have more to spend. It surveyed nearly 1,600 L&D experts and HR professionals with L&D responsibilities and some budget influence.

Offering employees the right opportunities to grow will ultimately help them stay.
Tiffany PoeppelmanDirector of career development, LinkedIn

"Offering employees the right opportunities to grow will ultimately help them stay," said Tiffany Poeppelman, director of career development at LinkedIn. That is putting L&D at the center of importance for HR spending.

She said L&D helps with retention and mobility within the company, or helps workers find new places to gain skills and roles.

The LinkedIn study found that communication, leadership and management are the most in-demand skills, Poeppelman said. These are the top skills it has seen across job postings over the last few years, and "it's been pretty consistent year over year," she said. The exception is in technical areas, such as engineering, where JavaScript, Java and SQL are the most sought-after skills. For IT professionals, it's management, SQL and Microsoft Office.

Most in-demand skills in business, according to LinkedIn
1. management 6. marketing
2. communication 7. project management
3. customer service 8. finance
4. leadership 9. analytical skills
5. sales 10. teamwork

LinkedIn's findings get support from Udemy, an e-learning platform. It just released a ranking of the top 10 business skills, where communication, project management and leadership feature prominently.

L&D platforms can also support another trend: the changing way in which people learn, Poeppelman said.

There is more emphasis on "community, social-based learning," where people want to learn through the shared experiences of others. That might involve a chat feature or a separate breakout for discussion.

"It is a mix between live instruction and live discussion," Poeppelman said, "coupled with people arranging to meet offline at a time that works for them."

Patrick Thibodeau covers HCM and ERP technologies for TechTarget Editorial. He's worked for more than two decades as an enterprise IT reporter.

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