The AI revolution is coming to L&D 

Business woman presenting financial result holding digital tablet   
Business woman presenting financial result holding digital tablet   
Artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming the world of work and the skills needed to succeed.

While this shift can be challenging, it offers corporate learning and development (L&D) teams added impetus to build a more skilled and adaptive workforce at scale and speed.

Generative AI (Gen AI) can create learning content to support a range of evolving learning needs. When trained on company data, Gen AI allows for personalized learning, firm-wide knowledge sharing, and real-time career mapping as skills are acquired.

All of this will enable L&D professionals to drive transformative change, as Gen AI democratizes knowledge and employers prioritize human talents and skills as the true currency of work. Yet within this opportunity, there’s a challenge: 58% of executives currently agree that digital innovation is outpacing their firms’ ability to retrain employees

C-suite leaders value AI and L&D separately, yet many do not see how one is affected by the other. While three in four executives would keep or increase their spend on AI and L&D in response to financial pressure, most executives think that Gen AI will inhibit learning (58%) rather than enhance it (42%)

Increasingly, the legacy model of corporate L&D teams taking weeks (or even months) to produce and deliver content (often in a one-size-fits-some format with a limited shelf life) is no longer fit for purpose. However, thanks to AI, a more dynamic and flexible future beckons.

AI use cases for corporate L&D

Gen AI, when combined with a digital-first culture, can transform L&D programs in four important ways:

Gen AI can study and synthesize data to craft new L&D content, from quick lessons to multi-part learning pathways. The more advanced models can handle a range of inputs — text, code, images, audio and video — and even convert between these formats. Gen AI can also enhance augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), gamification and other techniques to provide a more engaging learner experience. Perhaps most importantly, Gen AI does all this at much greater speed and scale than any team of people can achieve.

Producing dynamic learning content takes time and technical know-how. In the past, this process has stretched many L&D professionals beyond their capacity. Now, AI can lighten the load by automating learning management system (LMS) functions, creating reusable templates for high-volume production, and suggesting prompts for higher quality outputs.

Given the speed and scope of its capabilities, Gen AI can support highly personalized learner journeys at scale. To begin with, it can analyze employee data to build learner profiles based on performance, learning preferences, career aspirations, interests and skills. From there, it can customize the content, format, language and other aspects of learning programs to help each learner succeed.

Unlike traditional L&D content, AI can also make adjustments in real time based on each employee’s progress. It can add more context and exercises when needed, or modify the difficulty level to stimulate learners without overwhelming them. In this way, it can act as a personal coach.

Skills-powered organizations flow talent to work based on the skills they have today and the skills they will need tomorrow. This can provide a significant competitive advantage. AI-powered tools can be used to support these efforts in several ways:

  • Using data to infer individuals’ current skills 
  • Analyzing skills supply and demand to identify and predict skill gaps
  • Creating, tailoring and suggesting L&D content to address specific skill gaps
  • Recommending developmental programs based on individual interests and illustrating alternative career paths
  • Replacing traditional, long, intermittent training events with continuous microlearning (within the flow of work), providing real-time learning resources

Executives agree that skills are a priority: when Mercer asked what would deliver the biggest boost to productivity, their top response was employee training and up/reskilling. However, many organizations still tend to gauge labor supply by headcount instead of skills. For example, just one-third of HR leaders are prioritizing talent assessment and skills development this year, and only 27% of workers say they have recently gone through a formal skills assessment. Clearly, there is a disconnect — one that AI can help solve.

HR Leaders: Which of the following are true at your organization? 

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In this chart we share HR Leaders responses to questions about talent, skills, and technology in their organizations.

Gen AI democratizes knowledge across the firm by making useful data more accessible. Organizations and their people are often inundated with information, much of it cluttered, outdated or simply irrelevant. By finding patterns in big data, Gen AI can quickly cut through the noise to curate timely, specific, high-value content from company intranets and other trustworthy sources.

This is a significant productivity development. According to 38% of executives, difficulty finding information is a top productivity drain. Thanks to AI, this challenge could soon be a thing of the past.

In the L&D context, the speed and focus that AI brings to information dissemination highlights the need for an entirely new learning philosophy. Long courses with sprawling content libraries can be replaced with targeted insights and microlearning, delivered on demand and within the flow of work. 

AI will transform the L&D function

For L&D professionals, AI offers an opportunity to become more efficient and strategic. It will also allow them to promote learning and development as key strategic drivers for their organizations. 

A recent Mercer analysis found that AI and automation will likely augment some L&D activities, such as program design and program delivery, while leaving corporate learning strategies to the people. This shift will allow L&D experts to evolve beyond the busy work of traditional training, and to focus instead on learning enablement, curation and governance.

Time by task: L&D versus AI and automation

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This chart shares areas where AI may augment the tasks in Learning and development.

AI will empower the L&D function to support strategic workforce planning through skills-related insights and interventions. This will help organizations shift from costly “churn and burn” strategies to more cost-effective and sustainable reskilling and upskilling programs.

L&D professionals will also be able to use predictive AI and analytics to find and anticipate skills shortages. They will then be able to use Gen AI to build skills internally to meet demand — especially the digital and transferrable skills required for the jobs of the future.

HR Leaders: What approaches have been most successful in ensuring you have the skills you need in your organization? (Select all)

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This chart shares which approaches HR leaders indicate have been most successful in ensuring they have the skills needed in their organizations.

The future of corporate learning

As AI evolves, so too will L&D programs, teams and technology. This will massively enhance their ability to provide organizations with skills-ready, adaptable talent. AI is already augmenting workforce transformation efforts by helping employers develop and deploy skills at scale and speed. Moving forward, AI-powered learning will become integral to the development of workforce capacity, putting skills and intellectual capital on a par with financial capital in terms of their strategic importance.
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