Posted by Howard Eisenberg, Director of Solution Services

2020 promises to be a year of change. Technological innovation – including AI and automation – will continue at a rapid pace, and the demand for digital skills looks set to rise accordingly. Global, local, and industry trends will continue to intersect in new and sometimes challenging ways, and businesses will need to stay nimble to keep up. In terms of the assessment industry, observational assessments are taking off, while the paradigm shift from larger, more infrequent tests to smaller, more regular ones continues. Here are just some of the L&D and assessment trends that we expect to see in the year ahead.

Use of observational assessments will increase

One particularly exciting trend will be a rise in the use of observational assessments. This method is a type of ‘testing by doing’ or performance testing, where a candidate is measured on their ability to conduct a task that their everyday work requires. The closer an exam is to the tasks that the employee will perform on a day-to-day basis, the more valid it is, and the more effective it is at measuring ability. This type of assessment is already popular in the IT world and, given the simplicity and effectiveness of implementing it with modern platforms, it can be expected to become ever more popular in the coming year.

The importance of digital skills

Digital skills are more important than ever, and this trend can be expected to continue. By 2030, McKinsey estimates that between 400 million and 800 million individuals could be displaced by automation and need to find new jobs. Alongside this, as many as 375 million people worldwide will need to switch occupational categories and retrain. The future workforce will need to be trained to work alongside automation and AI, as well as in other high-priority skills, such as using social media and being able to spot fake news. As such, digital skills are bound to be a top priority in the L&D programs of organizations around the world in 2020. Subsequently, there’ll be an increased need for assessments to test employees and ensure they will thrive in a rapidly changing world.

Drawing on organizational data

Data defined this decade, and it will continue to grow in importance in 2020. While L&D is an excellent way of improving employee knowledge, companies need to pay attention to their bottom line, ensuring that they have a clear purpose in mind for all training and development. Drawing the connection between L&D and business necessity through hard data – sales numbers, marketing data, operational data and more – is the solution. In many companies, HR and L&D are an island apart from the rest of the organization, without access to the data they need to finetune their operations by identifying areas for improvement. Over the coming year, HR and L&D will need to communicate with the C-suite to determine the business focus, and draw on data from across the organization to identify where gains can be made. The proliferation of open APIs between different pieces of business software, and standards such as xAPI and Open Badges, will help contribute to the value that assessment results data can add to an organization’s talent initiatives and business performance.

An exciting year ahead

The year ahead is an exciting one, with plenty of advances expected, and great potential for L&D and the assessment industry. Testing and assessments are increasingly important, and ever more companies are seeing that proper assessments can help with everything from identifying ideal candidates, ensuring that all employees are capable and confident in their work, to quantifying the success of training. We here at Questionmark wish everyone a happy and successful 2020!