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Recruitment & Learning Trends, 2022

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Here I look at the major trends for the year ahead in two key areas of HR: recruitment and learning services.

Recruitment Trends

Talent Acquisition (TA) challenges were already complex in the pre-pandemic period, with an aging workforce population, shortage of digital talent, rapid evolution of technology, Brexit, legal changes, and more. The pandemic added another layer of complexity in 2020: the rapid shift to digital hiring/onboarding (with some sectors seeing rapid upticks in activity), non-digital skills shortages, working from home and keeping workers safe and well. While expectations for 2021 focused on digital, hybrid working with a highly-distributed workforce, the Great Resignation presented unforeseen challenges, with knock-on consequences, requiring organizations to take a different approach to the future of work.

Organizations struggle to find talent in a highly-squeezed market, as tried and trusted methodologies no longer work. More are reaching out to vendors for support as they become desperate to attract candidates while juggling increased turnover levels of existing employees. Vendors are evolving their TA solutions in line with advancing TA trends. The hot topics for 2022 will be:

A total talent/holistic approach to hiring

Organizations will act upon their 2021 intentions, as sought-after talent is no longer guaranteed from traditional full-time/permanent channels, requiring a contingent or internal mobility channel approach. So, all organizational functions must work collaboratively to proactively strategize their 2022 talent plans via a strategic workforce planning (SWP) approach, using enabling technologies to aid the process. While some urgent talent needs may require a quick fix, this reactivity is unsustainable long-term. An increased focus on internal talent mobility will reduce the risks of unnecessary employee turnover. Organizations must also plan their salary/contractor rate positioning (avoiding neglectful over-inflation of rates) to prevent future problems around pay inequities across the workforce.   

Back-to-basics recruitment

Companies are competing for talent from shrinking talent pools, as the sansdemic (decreasing working-age population) and the Great Resignation dominate the 2022 market. The most in-demand TA services will be employer branding and associated services contributing to organizations’ brands. Businesses will work hard to promote their company cultures to be future-of-work fit for their audiences, across all talent channels. Priority is on promoting diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB), work flexibility, safety/wellbeing, career longevity, and environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) issues.          

In one of the most candidate-led markets in years, tried and trusted recruitment methods are becoming less effective, yielding fewer candidates. While pandemic-induced travel restrictions impact talent mobility on the one hand, on the other, more significant opportunities exist to engage remote talent globally. So, organizations must expand their repertoire of initiatives to reach candidates: international hackathon events to find future digitally-skilled talent, leveraging previously untapped audiences (career returners or those launching second careers). Companies failing to focus on these basics will lose out on vital talent. 

Building talent by upskilling and reskilling organizations’ workers

Traditionally, the focus was on building in-demand digital skills and reskilling workers whose roles were being automated. Organizations must now expand the remit to offset the broader talent challenges associated with employee churn.

Essentially, TA and learning will work in greater unison. Corporate functions must plan how talent will be managed beyond initial recruitment/onboarding to drive ongoing employee engagement and development, to encourage longevity of service. A training course here and there or a HiPo scheme for a select few are no longer fit-for-purpose in their traditional formats. Long-term career mapping and initiatives to put newly-learned skills into immediate practice for all workers will be required, or workers will seek to progress their careers elsewhere. Core to this experience is using intelligent, AI-driven tech, feeding personalized content, enabling a self-service, pull approach to skilling, upskilling, and reskilling.        

Next-generation platforms/tools

Hiring quality candidates at speed while driving a highly-consumerized experience will remain a priority (although hiring speed success is likely impacted by talent availability). Candidates will expect a predominantly digital hiring experience to meet the needs of a workforce seeking flexibility and being less focused on having a physical workplace presence.

Employees will expect to use intelligent tech, underpinned by sophisticated RPA, AI, and ML, via a single platform interface to drive a highly tailored and personalized day-to-day work experience (feeding relevant content to them to maximize role efficiency). Hence, there is also a greater shift to a microservices/low-code/no-code architecture as a standard. The appetite for deep data and predictive/prescriptive analytics will grow, as organizations and their workers seek insights to help eke out extra competitive edge in all areas of talent. The use of digital agents and voice-enabled technology to personalize the tech experience will be a focus in 2022.

Learning Trends

In 2021, learning focused on building out the digital foundations initiated in response to the 2020 pandemic. Hence, the criticality of using the most appropriate technology and tools to drive a digital learning experience emerged. It is now generally accepted that a predominantly digital learning approach is the way forward, focused on skilling for the future of work.

Events such as the Great Resignation of 2021, inadvertently fueling the talent shortage, have turned attention to employee engagement, retention, and development to offset employee turnover. Hence, in 2022, learning will see a revitalized focus and achieve a higher priority within organizations to curb TA challenges (as part of the holistic/total talent approach to attaining the skills needed). Learning vendors continue to develop their services and technology apace to support businesses in meeting their workforce skilling needs. Hot topics for 2022 will include:

Tailored content for skilling

Learning vendors will continue to curate content (where there is an abundance of ready-made material available on generic skills) and create content (where organizations need tailored content for a product or specialty compliance reasons). Subjects such as digital skills (from basic to advanced, niche, certified skillsets) and future of work skills (remote leadership, maintaining wellbeing), commonplace since 2020, will continue apace.

With many organizations focusing on raising their corporate profiles to attract talent, there will be demand for DEIB and ESG awareness training, living the company culture when workforces are remote, and managing employee performance/career conversations. Enhancing skills training focused on the digital world of work will include digital selling (without face-to-face engagement). 

Learning tech/tools

In 2022, the technology and tools focus will deliver experiential learning, taking advantage of RPA, AI, and ML developments, driving content suited to individual learners' preferences and needs. More organizations will seek advice on replacing or augmenting their existing learning systems with LMS/LXP and other specialty platforms to ensure learning is engaging and tailored to encourage self-service/pull learning in the flow of work. Notably, Microsoft Viva will make an impact on the LXP market. Driving learner engagement will start at the candidate level via digital onboarding (supporting pre-boarding learning activities to give new employees a head start and the opportunity to reach productivity sooner).

Next-generation platforms delivering digital internships, graduate programs, academies, and certification programs will be sought to skill, upskill, and reskill a more distributed workforce, to engage and retain them long-term. The use of events platforms will also increase alongside. A mobile-first/appified and microlearning approach will dominate, enabling learning to take place in small chunks across all devices, fitting in with learners’ busy lives. For companies keen to create content internally or manage curated content, the uptake of rapid authoring tech and content library subscriptions will increase. Organizations will seek more learner-specific data/analytics to measure the success of their learning programs as the competition for skilled talent intensifies.

Next-generation modalities

The emphasis on experiential learning will drive the demand for engaging modalities, such as video, animation, gamification, serious games, and simulation. There will be re-energized demand for VR, augmented reality (AR), and the metaverse, as the technology becomes less expensive. An emerging area is haptic technology enhancing kinesthetic learning.   

Other learning services

Demand for consulting services will continue, covering digitalization of learning (including tech/tools and learning content advice), reskilling/upskilling, and driving learner engagement (as retention of talent becomes a priority to avoid unnecessary turnover). Administrative services will continue to focus on systems administration and the sourcing of third-party suppliers, as more organizations decide to outsource such tasks. 

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