Person in an online classroom during an eLearning course

eLearning: Future Skills Are Increasingly Human

Can eLearning help employees acquire the soft skills they need?

The future of work is here—but most of us aren’t ready for it. Dubbed the ‘double-disruption’ by the World Economic Forum (WEC), automation, along with the COVID-19 pandemic, have forever transformed the workplace. To remain competitive, employees must meet demands for an increasing number of digital, technical, and soft skills. 

Yet as the window of opportunity to upskill or reskill shrinks, the ability to learn has become the most prized skill of all. Why? Because the WEC predicts that 50% of all employees will need reskilling in the next five years. And employers are ill prepared to assist them.  

eLearning and the Looming Skills Crisis

According to PwC’s 23rd Annual Global CEO Survey, 74% of CEOs have concerns about the availability of key skills. Although 41% say upskilling programs are effective, only 18% have made significant progress toward establishing upskilling programs with a mix of needed skills. That means most employers are failing to keep up with the needs of their employees—and the market. Fortunately, eLearning can change that.  

While eLearning is sometimes associated with courses such as mandated compliance-based training, it’s a flexible tool that lets employers create custom programs that build both hard and soft skills. It’s also one of the most effective ways to prepare your workforce for the future. 

Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills: What’s The Difference?

Before we cover the benefits of eLearning, we first need to define the terms “hard skills” and “soft skills”. This will help you decide which types of employee skills you want to focus on in future training courses.    

Hard Skills 

Hard skills, also called technical skills, are skill sets that are easy to quantify. You typically learn them in the classroom, through training materials, or on the job. And schools and employers can use standardized tests to evaluate your proficiency.

Examples of hard skills include: 

  • Proficiency in programs such as Excel  
  • Data analysis 
  • Coding

Until recently, companies invested more heavily in recruiting employees with specific hard skills such as software development. However, as technology and automation continue to take over new tasks, employers are shifting their focus to soft skills. Why? Because superior soft skills are essential for higher productivity and ROI in the remote workplace. 

Soft Skills 

Also known as people skills or interpersonal skills, soft skills are harder to quantify. They relate to the ways in which you interact with other people and how you make them feel. Although they’re sometimes taught in schools, soft skills are more difficult to measure than hard skills. Yet they’re becoming increasingly necessary to learn, innovate, and manage stress in the modern workplace. 

Soft skills not only help you adapt to change, but enable you to build the interpersonal relationships that help you succeed at every stage of your career. Failure to upskill may result in missed opportunities to collaborate on projects, job promotions—or worse: termination.

Examples of soft skills include: 

  • Analytical, innovative thinking
  • Creativity
  • Critical thinking and problem solving  
  • Flexibility  
  • Clear, effective communication 
  • Relationship building and emotional intelligence  
  • Mentoring and leadership  
  • Active listening

As remote work becomes more common, employers must ensure new hires have the necessary soft skills to succeed such as time management, self-discipline, and flexibility. Managerial skills, such as goal setting, decision making, leadership, and effective communication, also remain in high demand. Hard skills still matter, especially in technical roles, but soft skills will determine whether employees succeed, both onsite and off. 

Person on a computer watching an eLearning video

Opportunities to Upskill and Reskill   

Now that you know more about in demand skills, let’s see how eLearning compares to other methods of upskilling and reskilling. 

Traditional Schooling

Universities and community colleges offer a range of courses for continuing education. And while traditional schooling remains a popular way to learn new skills, it has two major drawbacks: 

  • Tuition costs 
  • Limited course offerings

Tuition costs can still be prohibitive for people who are lower income. But even if money isn’t an issue, courses tend to cover broad topics. You may not find one that meets your specific needs. 

Self-Directed Learning

With the rise of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), self-directed learning is more popular than ever. However, it’s difficult to determine the quality of these programs, and even courses from top universities report low completion rates


Unlike the alternatives, companies can customize eLearning courses to meet their workforce’s needs. People can study during work hours, which means they don’t need to worry about how to fit courses into their schedule. And different modes of eLearning such as micro lessons allow them to study on their smartphone or tablet and learn through engaging scenarios or game-based training. Companies can even generate LMS reports to further customize eLearning content, which makes the design process more effective and monetarily viable. 

Best of all, employees report that they learn five times more material via eLearning compared to other methods. 

Person on a computer doing an eLearning course

The Benefits of eLearning 

As you can see, eLearning is one of the most effective ways to prepare employees for the modern workplace. Here are just a few ways you can use it to improve productivity and increase employee satisfaction.   

Centralize Employee Learning 

eLearning lets you build an online employee learning center with all your training programs in one virtual place. Whether employees work onsite, remotely, or have a hybrid schedule, they’ll always have access to the training they need. This makes it easy to complete courses around their own schedules and on their own devices—instead of during designated onsite training sessions. Unlike traditional online training, eLearning courses cater to different device bandwidths, which increases accessibility for all employees.

Adapt Programs Through eLearning Localization and Translation

Global businesses face the unique challenge of managing employees who not only speak different languages but may be accustomed to different workplace practices. Fortunately, employers can easily adapt eLearning programs for different cultures through localization and translation. At Lionbridge, we offer end-to-end eLearning services such as instructional design, compliance training, creation, localization, and translation to ensure your programs are accessible in every language.  

Boost Brand Image and Attract New Hires

eLearning can be great for corporate branding. It shows potential hires that you’re serious about investing in their future and offer opportunities to upskill and reskill as the workplace changes. By highlighting your eLearning programs, you’ll be in a better position to recruit the top talent in your industry.       

Increase Employee Retention Rates

It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted workers to rethink what they want from an employer. From remote options to flexible schedules, people are prioritizing their personal time over salaries and benefits. Opportunities to develop new skills also rank highly—with 94% of employees claiming they would stay at the same company if it invested in their learning. eLearning allows employers to invest in their employees, regardless of their location.    

How Lionbridge Can Help      

By now, it should be clear that eLearning is the future of all kinds of employee training. Yet if developing a program for your global workforce sounds daunting, it doesn’t need to be. 

Lionbridge provides eLearning services to global companies. We’ve made the Training Industry Top 20™ list of training outsourcing for 13 consecutive years, and are the only language services provider to do so. No matter the language, we’ll provide the end-to-end service you need to ensure your program’s success. 

Ready to transform your corporate training? Contact us today to get started. 

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