Trends in Learning and Development 2022

Vincent Romano

Vincent Romano

Executive Client Director

The training landscape in 2022 has been largely shaped by the effects of companies returning to the office following lowering of COVID-19 restrictions. Employees are mobile, both physically returning to the office and moving organisations as part of The Great Resignation, impacting training needs and the delivery format. Learning and development as a result is very much front of mind for business leader as they seek to engage and retain their employees.

This article sets out the main trends and themes we have observed during 2022, drawing upon feedback from our clients (either anecdotally or from our surveys), as well from our network of Associates, Partners, and Consultants.

Delivery Format

There has been some debate over in-person training versus virtual training, with the consensus being that in-person training generally is more impactful, while virtual training is more convenient.

In-person is particularly more effective for higher value topics, such as high potential development, leadership, and diversity & inclusion programs. Not only are skillsets enhanced but character is built, and closer, long-term relationships are formed. Employers also have observed the broader benefits of in-person training being able to help build company culture and embed purpose and inclusivity. As a result, in person training has become the default where possible, but for training involving individuals across wider geographies, virtual training can be more economical and accessible.

Companies can adapt digital training for purpose using technology to help digital learning be more engaging, however, there is a lag in what learners expect compared to what companies are offering.

Top 3 Reasons Why In-Person Training is Preferred

  • Reward and incentivize employees to return to the office.
  • Develop core company values and culture.
  • Enhance employee engagement and team building.

Top 3 Reasons Why Virtual Training is Not Working

  • Zoom fatigue and low engagement (not switching on cameras or microphone)
  • Technology difficulties and connectivity
  • Not fit for purpose (limitation of physical activities).

Impact of Technology

This takes us nicely to the subject of technology and its impact on learning and development.

We note that hybrid training can be an extremely tricky mode of learning with lack of equity between in-person learners who are typically more engaged and virtual learners who are often isolated. The solution has been the creation of dedicated hybrid training facilities, with Singapore seeing the opening of Catapult which is Southeast Asia’s first leadership training hub designed to groom Asia’s next-generation leaders through immersive, experiential, and impactful learning journeys. All training rooms are hybrid enabled with cameras tracking facilitators movements, while other facilities include recording suites, and 180-degree and 360-degree immersive studios.

Although they have been around for a while, it is worth while noting the growing popularity of online resources such as LinkedIn Learning, Coursera and Udemy where employees select courses and learn at their own pace. Gamification, meanwhile, can provide a wrapper around these resources to help engage learners by rewarding completion of programs with points, badges, or redeemable vouchers.

Furthermore, there is a move towards Digital Certification of learning where learners will receive accreditation of programs they have attended in a digital wallet, verified by blockchain technology. As the accreditation is unique and verifiable, learners can use the accreditation to help with reimbursement of training costs or demonstration of programme completion to new employers. At Arcadia, we are proud to be working with one of our key partners to co-create our own digital certification – watch this space!

Virtual Reality is also moving into the learning arena as well with VR environments such as such as Oculus where you are exposed to a fully immersive virtual experience. Training takes place on a more individual basis but can achieve high level of engagement which can be useful for getting a specific message across as well as for events such as Executive Away Days, or for energising an audience.

Learning Topics

With in-person training returning, the demand for learning topics has also changed, however, we continue to see several themes persisting which continue to be topical. With teams, particularly regional teams, being able to come together in the one location, we have seen a demand for in person training as part of either Leadership Offsites or Sales Kick Offs, with more engaging and energising topics being requested, particularly from our Communication Suite

High Performing Teams – as leadership teams come together, often for the very first time due to changes in management personnel, the need to understand and build relationships with peers has meant that High Performing Teams was in significant demand, as was shown in our Singapore survey earlier this year.

Presentation Skills – with the return to the office, there has been a return to face-to-face presentations and as such there has been a noticeable uptake in demand for presentation skills programmes, specifically from sales teams for Pitching Skills training.

Executive Presence – like Presentation Skills, with fewer meetings taking place virtually, Executive Presence skills has continued to prove to be in heavy demand, particularly as part of Leadership offsites as a motivational and engaging segment.

Strategic Thinking –demand for Strategic Thinking training in 2022 has been by the need for employees to focus on problem solving skills and increasing employee’s connection to strategy. However, we expect this programme to continue to be popular in 2023 as companies deal with the fall out of the anticipated global recession and the need for companies to implement strategies to survive.

Diversity – unsurprising Diversity, Inclusion and Unconscious Bias training continues to be popular amongst multinationals whether to address specific issues or as part of corporate strategies to present the company as employers of choice.

High Potential Leadership Programmes – this includes both First Time Manager Development Programmes and Female Leadership Development Programmes. There is a strong need to create and maintain a strong bench of talent, particularly following the Pandemic where several senior expatriate leaders returned to their home countries leaving gaps in senior leadership teams. Furthermore, the lack of women in leadership continues to raise its head as a key area to address.

Innovation – innovation has been a key business topic in 2022 and we have seen this translate into demand for training programmes at both the employee and leadership level. We also anticipate this need to grow in 2023 with the anticipated recession as companies seek new market opportunities. Consequently, Arcadia is in the process of building a Leading for Innovation programme which will be available from Q1 of 2023

Imposter Syndrome – this is another popular topic trending in the business world and a phrase guaranteed to be included in year end lists of new words and phrases appearing in our vocabularies. The need to define what this means for companies and how we address this has meant that this is another programme scheduled for release by Arcadia later in 2023.

Executive Coaching – coaching has been in high demand for 2022 and the reasons for this are many and varied. Often coaching assignments have been requested to help individuals prepare for the next rung on the leadership ladder, sometimes for specific presentations, townhalls or media interviews. Other times coaching has been selected as an additional resource for support for individuals experiencing high pressure situations.

The Road Ahead

Even before the world was waking up to the pandemic, back in January 2020, the World Economic Forum said that in the next two years – by 2022 – 42% of core skills required to perform existing jobs are expected to change. With the advent of the pandemic, change has accelerated this requirement even further (now 50% by 2025).

The demand for technological skills has mushroomed while younger generations are demanding not only training but practical opportunities to practice and demonstrate those skills. Throw in the current economic recovery providing massive opportunities in the job market for employees, companies are turning to learning more than ever to engage and retain employees (now potential Global downturn with a war for talent).

Organisations must be nimble and must listen to the demands and needs of its employees and learning is one of the main tools where organizations can deliver on those demands.


As companies struggle to retain and attract staff, training has had a renewed focus, after being somewhat neglected during the initial stages of the pandemic. Furthermore, training is key to companies reskilling as they innovate to survive in the post COVID business world, particularly with the anticipated Global Recession in 2023.

To conclude, there are four key trends organisation should consider:

  1. In-person Training – where possible, in-person training is the preference for companies, to engage employees and encourage face to face interactions. It is seen as having a higher value than prior to the pandemic and as a reward to employees.
  2. Virtual Training Convenience – as much as companies want in-person, the realisation is that people have got used to virtual formats and with the disparate APAC geography, virtual training is just easier and allows us to cover off larger amounts of participants.
  3. Technology – technology is always as at the forefront of training, and with immersive training options coming online, the possibilities for remote, engaging content are limitless.
  4. Leadership – the biggest demand we see continues to be for leadership programs – whether that be at Executive levels, for High Potentials/First Time Managers or for Women in Leadership and Asian Leaders Programs.

Want to Learn More?

Choose your language