Soft Skills Remain a Top Learning and Development Priority in 2019

Ranking amongst other high demand soft skills, leadership and management development remains the top training priority for companies in 2019, a recent L&D Report by discovered.

A whopping 41% of companies plan to prioritise leadership and management development this year, compared with just 25% in 2018 and market leaders were 70% more likely to rate leadership and management skills as a top priority versus market challenger companies. Strong corporate leadership has been proven to promote a healthy work environment, improve staff engagement and ultimately impacts staff retention, so it’s unsurprising that this has claimed the top spot for the second year in a row.

However, the face of training is shifting. The report shows that 2019 is a move away from IT and software training and towards health and safety and diversity and inclusion. Communication skills and customer service remain priorities in 2019, although these have moved further down the table.

Top 5 Training Courses in 2019Top 5 Training Courses in 2018
1. Leadership and Management Development1. Leadership and Management Development
2. Health and Safety2. Communication Skills
3. Diversity and Inclusion3. Customer Service
4. Customer Service4. Compliance
5. Communication5. IT

The report also showed that companies were dedicating less time and money to training in 2019, with just 22% of staff receiving more than a week of training compared to 43% in 2018. This could be having an effect on employee engagement, which is also down compared to 2018. According to the report, 65% of staff in 2019 rated their satisfaction as “highly satisfied” or “satisfied” vs. 76% in 2018. Meanwhile, the number of staff receiving 1+weeks of training per year is dropping, with 21% of staff receiving this in 2019 vs. 43% in 2018.

Why soft skills?

Employment is evolving! It’s no secret that tech innovations and new expectations are redefining the connection between work and learning. With a dynamic and ambitious millennial generation already beginning to play a huge role in the global workforce, the demand for flexible, open career models is on the rise, with two key trends beginning to emerge:

  • Today’s careers have become continuous learning journeys rather than the results of single qualifications.
  • There is a growing need for workplaces to become hubs of personal development.

The demand for personal growth means that soft skills have become an essential part of finding, attracting, and retaining employees.
Highly-developed communication skills, leadership abilities, and interpersonal awareness are relevant to virtually all careers. Honing your abilities to resolve conflicts, solve problems, and provide excellent customer service can lead to stronger relationships with colleagues, clients, and other professional contacts. Fundamentally, soft skills can help you gain confidence, an invaluable trait in the business world.
A lack of soft skills can limit your potential, or even lead to the downfall of your business. By developing strengths in leadership, teamwork, and communication, you can oversee projects more smoothly, share your ideas more effectively, and even positively influence your personal life by improving how you interact with others.

Why you should integrate learning culture into your business’ ethos

Findings from the 2019 L&D report found that 76% of the companies using L&D as a recruitment strategy believe it gives their organisation a competitive advantage. Moreover, market leaders are 72% more likely to already be using talent development as an integrated part of their recruitment strategy – suggesting that market challengers may be missing out on an opportunity to get more benefits from their L&D programs.

Your L&D initiatives should be infused with the DNA of the entire company, according to Dave Miller, the Global Talent Development Manager for WilsonHCG, the global RPO, executive search, talent consulting and talent acquisition solutions partner. WilsonHCG’s L&D team has been recognised by numerous HR awards, and most recently was a finalist in the Emerging Leader in HR category of the 2018 HR Distinction Awards.

The pillars of WilsonHCG’s mission statement include integrity, collaboration, passion, communication, and ownership, which play prominent roles in their training.

Their Pillars Programme, for example, gives employees full ownership as they move through the training programme at their own pace. New employees work through each pillar as they go, and with each pillar rise comes a compensation change – an important incentive.

“In the markets we work in, the programme has a competitive advantage because we’re taking people who can see they’re in charge of their own career development,” Miller says.

Making sure your business ethos is supported by your training programme allows you to gain executive buy-in as well, which can be crucial in securing resources for your team.

Read more about the key trends for learning and development in 2019 in the full L&D report from

Employment Law Updates
Laws change in a moment. Sign up to stay informed.
Employment Law Updates
Laws change in a moment. Sign up to stay informed.

Have employees in more than one state? SUBSCRIBE HERE!

Have employees in more than one state? SUBSCRIBE HERE!