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It’s Focus Time: Collaborating on Critical Topics in L&D

“Keep an eye on attrition and boost employee engagement.”

“Close your organization’s skill gaps.” 

“Incorporate AI.”

And the list goes on. With all the noise in L&D, focus is tough to come by. That’s why we created Degreed Focus, a series of annual, in-person events shaped by the most critical conversations and ideas swirling around the industry. You can join regional L&D experts and Degreed thought leaders for a morning full of networking, insights, and interactive discussions.

Focus in 2024: New Year, Untold Adventures Ahead

To keep Focus conversations as timely as possible, we carefully curate topics closer to event dates. One thing we can promise? You’ll be getting the latest and greatest in ideas, news, and trends. For example, in 2024 we already see that:

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) is an incredibly powerful emerging L&D tool.
  • Business impact is becoming measurable with the growing overlap between learning and skills. 
  • Skills are rapidly becoming the currency of work, and companies unprepared for that change will be left behind.

Who knows. Maybe you just got a sneak peek at our first Focus agenda. While topics are still TBD, we know exactly which cities we’re heading to. Degreed hosts Focus in a few select locations every year. And this year, we’re heading to:

  • Chicago, United States
  • Munich, Germany
  • São Paulo, Brazil
  • Toronto, Canada

Why gather in person? Learning leaders work in a wide range of companies—in industries like manufacturing, finance, and professional services. Because L&D works within and among these industries, it can be more challenging to grow a community of learning professionals. Connecting learning professionals across industries contributes to an innovative and agile L&D community. And there’s nothing quite like a room full of peers discussing the latest trends to help you focus (pun very much intended) and think critically.

Join the ever-evolving L&D conversation.

A quick look back reveals that Degreed Focus has consistently tracked the evolution of thinking in L&D. In 2022, we explored the future of learning, capturing a “What’s next?” sentiment that took hold during and after the pandemic-era lockdowns. In 2023, we focused almost exclusively on skills—covering the emergence of the skills-first future, skills-based organizations, and skill-powered learning.

How did L&D go from all learning to all skills? Mindsets shifted, which isn’t that tough to believe. Learning pros are nothing if not agile. While Degreed has been a proponent of skills-first thinking for years—peep our Ultimate Skill Data Handbook from 2021—the world of work was finally starting to see it. After all the talk about the future of learning in 2022 (and some other factors, I’m sure), business leaders in 2023 increasingly began viewing skills-first thinking as a business imperative. 

Many business and learning leaders realized that bits of content here and there weren’t driving the necessary changes they craved. They needed broad skill-building initiatives to effectively and efficiently close skill gaps across their organizations and it was going to take a little work

As last year unfolded, our team was more than excited to talk about skills again to eager ears. Our mission at Degreed always was—and always will be—to jailbreak the college degree. What does that mean? Well, with skills still top of mind, we can paint a clearer picture than ever. 

Consider this: Which of these David Blakes are you most likely to hire and deploy effectively?

Option No. 1 – David with a Degree

Option No. 2 – David with Work Experience

Option No. 3 – David with Specialized Skills

I’d guess—and hope—that your confidence lies with the David Blake who showcases a broad repertoire of specialized skills. 

Of course, a college degree is impressive. Of course, work history matters. But when you look at the wealth of information you get from tracking and prioritizing skills, you’re looking at the sum of someone’s education, their work history, and the life experiences that make them uniquely qualified.

Looking at it all side by side is bound to make you wonder how the resume—relatively minimal information built around a timeline of degrees and job titles on a piece of paper—formed the core of the hiring process. Jailbreaking the degree means ridding the work world of an outdated idea that a degree alone can be the de facto measure of someone’s lifetime of learning. 

Zeroing In: Our Focus Goes Deeper

Last year, the rise of AI widened the already growing global skills gap. This presented an unprecedented challenge and opportunity. Instead of retreating to regroup, our Focus speakers zeroed in on key AI questions percolating among learning teams.

While all our experts (and most thought leaders, in general) advocated understanding and safely leveraging the power of AI, our Focus speakers also emphasized thoughtful and purposeful AI skill development. Different people need to focus on different aspects of AI. Panic learning everything is not the agility and adaptability needed for long-term business success.

While numerous thought leaders talked about the skills gap, our Focus speakers dug deeper. Steve Boucher, Director of Strategic Advising and Solutions at Degreed, shared his niche knowledge on calculating the supply and demand for skills across a workforce—so you can confidently determine exactly which skills you have and which skills you need. 

It was about helping you do more than plug a general skills gap; it was about helping you understand and meet your unique upskilling needs. Steve’s insights in 2023 illuminated the complexities of assessing your skills supply and demand but also clearly demonstrated what it looks like to appropriately take stock of your team’s capabilities. Attendees left with a clear take-home formula for measuring their organization’s skills and a clear visualization of what that looks like.

Focus speakers are more than just in-house Degreed experts. In fact, Degreeders usually make up only a small portion of the agenda. Speakers are selected because they’ve been where you’ve been. Heck, they are where you are. And that’s more attention-grabbing than abstract thought leadership. In 2023, learning pros from Allstate, Ericsson, KPMG, and State Street—just to name a few—took the stage. They led fireside chats, shared personal stories, and provided real solutions.

Ready to learn more?

This year, we’ll strive to remain on the cutting edge of conversation, so you leave feeling like you got the most important and actionable information available—no extra noise. We can’t wait to see what this year holds for learning, and we want to uncover it with you. Join us to zero in on the latest trends, insights, and research in L&D.

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