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L&D in Asia: Riding the Digital Tsunami

This report outlines key Learning & Development game changers, how technology is being leveraged to enable future-forward capability-building, and how Asia L&D teams can step up to the challenge at hand.


As companies reinvent and shift strategic direction in response to the flood of COVID-19 disruptions, they are scrambling to swiftly acquire and develop future-forward skillsets, toolsets, and mindsets. Fifty percent of Asia-Pacific CEOs surveyed felt that reskilling was critical in bridging gaps in capabilities needed for their companies’ future success.1 Learning and Development (L&D) teams must urgently accelerate human capital development to align with the future needs of their businesses. 

Among other things, COVID-19 has spurred digitalization across all business functions, and L&D is no exception. Work from Home (WFH) arrangements—which are likely to remain in place for a prolonged period, if not indefinitely—have challenged L&D to reimagine how, where, and when learning is delivered. L&D has arguably never been on the forefront of the digital tidal wave. Now, it is.

Insights for What’s Ahead

  •  L&D must shift from grooming for roles to future-skilling. Some experts have asserted that 85 percent of the roles required by 2030 do not currently exist.2 Many contemporary skills can and will become obsolete, and quite quickly. L&D must enable continuous reskilling, pivoting from preparing employees for static roles, towards building dynamic and results-focused future-forward capabilities that align with envisaged business needs.
  • Employees should be empowered to “own” their learning and career pathing. Recognizing the urgency of reskilling, employees are taking greater accountability for their own learning and career pathing. Bespoke, personalized learning portfolios that align learners’ needs with the company’s strategic objectives are the future. L&D can create a compelling “pull effect” by leveraging engaging digital solutions including Learning Experience Platforms (LXPs) and AI-driven chatbots.
  • L&D should “be” digital and “know” digital to lead digital. To successfully lead digital transformation, L&D should embrace and understand it fully themselves. Working knowledge of the digital landscape, as well as knowhow for engaging the right ecosystem partners, will be critical future success factors for L&D. “Being” digital goes well beyond distributing sophisticated devices and must encompass driving mindset shifts in the workforce that are conducive to rapid, widespread, digital adoption. L&D needs to assume the role of a digital infomediary by curating resources from both open and paid sources that are most relevant to their learners.
  • L&D in Asia must adapt digital learning approaches to the differing domain realities across the region. Contrary to perceptions that learners in Asia prefer more structured learning approaches, Asian employees are proving to be fast adopters of mobile applications and enthusiastic consumers of digital learning solutions across the board. Hierarchical organizational structures in some countries often impede the ability of junior employees to openly share their perspectives and challenges. Poor telecoms infrastructure and/or higher cyber risks in some Asian countries create operational obstacles that will need to be overcome for digitalized L&D programs to succeed in Asia. 

For access to the full report, please contact our research or membership staff listed on the last page of the downloabable Executive Summary PDF.



1 “22nd Annual Global CEO Survey”, PwC, 2019.
2 Nabeel Ahmad, COVID-19 Reset & Recovery: Implications for Learning & Development, The Conference Board, August 2019.


Sandhya Karpe Profile 120x120.jpg

Sandhya Karpe, PhD

Senior Research Advisor of Human Capital Center Asia, Program Director of Asia Learning, Development & Culture Council
The Conference Board





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