Insight April 27, 2022 Colin Gillespie

Career Learning Pathways Will Become Business-Critical

Continuous learning is potentially the most crucial piece of anyone’s long-term career development in a fast-changing world. According to most contemporary research, the half-life of skills is down to only five years.

It’s not enough to merely rely on the skills that someone came into a job with, but rather businesses need to be investing in adapting to changing circumstances if they are to stay relevant. This might not be accomplished through formal degree programs where the focus can be on academic theory, but rather through practical skill development that can make a difference in the day-to-day operations of your organization. Career learning pathways are becoming mission-critical for companies and their employees to achieve their commercial objectives.

What is a Learning Pathway?

A learning pathway is a well-structured plan for an employee’s career progression. Working backward from long-term goals, a pathway aims to help an employee acquire new skills, update their knowledge in existing areas, and challenge conventional thinking to help arrive at new insights towards their development.

Ideally, a learning pathway has measurable outcomes that serve as stepping stones on the way to a specific end result. This structure means that the learning is scoped appropriately and the key results can be directly applicable to the employee’s specific job.

What are the Benefits of Learning Pathways?

Learning pathways are ultimately win-win propositions because they provide value to both the employer and the employee. Let’s run through some of the key benefits from both perspectives:

For the Employer:

Relevant Training

Learning pathways act as a means of training your staff with the skills they need to operate in a rapidly advancing environment. As a company, these skills are crucial to remain relevant and to hold onto a competitive advantage in your industry.

Recruiting and Retaining Top Talent

Having a strong learning and development focus as an employer is often an important selling factor in recruiting and retaining top talent. 40% of employees will leave their company in the first year if they experience poor training. Great employees don’t want to be stagnant. They want to continue developing themselves so that they can advance in their career.

Strategic Alignment

The right learning pathways can focus specifically on your long-term strategic goals, meaning that you have a better chance of accomplishing them, especially in highly competitive markets.

Employee Engagement

When employees get bored with what they do, they can become a liability rather than an asset. Learning pathways help introduce novelty and growth opportunities that ultimately improve employee engagement. In fact, people who work for companies that invest in resources for learning are 83% more likely to feel happy in their job. It really does impact productivity, morale, and company culture.

Compounding Productivity Returns

As employees learn new skills, they become better at what they do, more productive in their day-to-day tasks, and those returns compound over time. Investing now in learning pathways produces results far into the future.

For the Employee:

Boosts Morale

There is intrinsic fulfillment in being able to upskill yourself and learn something new. Feeling that you are taking practical steps to advance your career provides a non-trivial boost in morale.


When an employee is in control of their learning and can see the long-term outcome they are working for, it empowers them to work hard and achieve things on their terms.

Career Advancement

Naturally, learning new skills is a great way for an employee to advance their career and achieve some of the longer-term goals that they might have set for themselves.

Demonstrates Value

The mere fact that an organization is willing to invest in helping an employee to grow demonstrates that they are valuable to the company. This vote of confidence is important because it validates their hard work and makes for a much healthier working relationship.

Improves Earning Potential

Upskilling is a proven way to increase your earning potential and which employee doesn’t want to earn more money to potentially improve their quality of life?

As you can see, the benefits listed here are significant. This is a win-win endeavor. Learning pathways represent one of the best ways to future-proof your organization while simultaneously investing in company culture and employee wellbeing.

Why Is It So Relevant Now?

We find ourselves in an interesting time where career learning pathways are becoming mission-critical across all industries. The way we learn has shifted significantly with the true democratization of information, new models like MOOCs, micro-credentials, and other shifts in thinking around college degrees. It’s no longer a prerequisite to go to college these days, and in fact, practical, up-to-date learning is often found outside of those university walls. The access to these skills is wider than ever before.

Employees are also starting to stand up and demand opportunities to earn more in their jobs. The current generation is much more likely to job-hop, making moves to actively try and improve their prospects. Companies that aren’t making employee development a priority are simply not going to be able to recruit the top people.

To differentiate yourself from competitors and attract the type of talent that you want to take your business forward, learning pathways could be a critical part of your organizational strategy. Here at The Renaissance Network, we can help you source this top talent, and we continue to support you in retaining them as they onboard. If you’re looking for a professional firm to assist you in building a world-class team, be sure to get in touch. We’d love to see how we can help.

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Colin Homer Gillespie is a strategic and purpose-driven GM with significant global experience and a record of product innovation and business transformation.

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