What the top 4 workplace trends of 2021 has meant for 2022

Rosie Cairnes, VP, Skillsoft Asia-Pacific, examines how the top 4 workplace trends of 2021 have impacted 2022.
By: | May 6, 2022

2021 was full of significant transformations and unique challenges. In places like Australia and Singapore, talent shortages due to a lack of skilled migration and closed borders, combined with ongoing pressure among employees to access flexible work, caused companies to build new strategies around hiring, learning, and work structures.

Let’s look back on the top four workplace trends of 2021 to learn from the past and gain a sense of what’s to come.

  1. Employees reassessed their learning priorities in the new way of working

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, employees went through a total mindset shift regarding their time and labour. They went in search of work they could connect with better. They want to do something personally fulfilling as they develop professionally. As a result, employees are now reassessing their learning priorities with work-life balance and professional development top of mind.

We have seen this devotion to learning illustrated in the 12.7 million digital badges received by Skillsoft users in 2021 via the Percipio platform, a 48 percent increase from 2020. Employees are speaking up, and companies are at last listening and beginning to provide them with the resources they need to succeed in their careers. This is likely to continue to grow as further pressure mounts in the tussle for talent.

  1. Reskilling and upskilling grew more important than ever

Several companies noted skill gaps before the pandemic. This rings especially true for IT and tech departments, and the events of 2021 further amplified this issue, with 76% of IT decision-makers reporting critical skills gaps among their teams in Skillsoft’s latest Lean into Learning report.

Many organisations realised something was amiss and started to integrate IT competency training and learning opportunities to allow tech teams to grow and develop. Skillsoft saw IT and tech courses account for 30 percent of Skillsoft’s most consumed courses in 2021, with an increase in technology and developer learning across the globe.

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“In 2022, digital competency will be the highway to productivity and innovation, and training more than hiring will be key in cultivating this.” – Rosie Cairnes, VP, Skillsoft Asia-Pacific.


In APAC, this constituted 39 percent of all courses. Businesses that took the initiative to focus on IT skilling also noticed higher engagement, faster performance, and better work outcomes across their teams. In 2022, digital competency will be the highway to productivity and innovation, and training more than hiring will be key in cultivating this.

  1. Organisations acknowledged and began to address gender inequality at work

Businesses also took great strides to recognise the gender inequality that is so prevalent in the workforce in 2021.

Women worldwide have been affected by the financial and social fallout of the pandemic more so than their male counterparts. The Lean into Learning Report showed that one in four women have considered downshifting or leaving their career entirely. With these issues becoming more apparent than ever, functional teams, especially those in IT, had to closely examine what women were looking for in their careers from a skills, professional development, salary, and work-life balance perspective.

This year, we can expect to see greater investment in strong Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) programmes that demonstrate a sense of belonging and value to all employees. The IT industry is likely to lead the way as it relies on more women and people from diverse backgrounds entering the field to fill its skills gaps. Businesses must work consistently to ensure that the modern workplace is a welcoming environment that allows for more varied talent, ultimately leading to unique solutions and work performance.

  1. The hybrid workforce was widely adopted across the global and will continue to rise

The pandemic has inevitably changed what work will look like forever, and employees continue to adjust. The idea of a “workplace” as a noun has changed dramatically and is no longer limited to a specific physical space. We are going to see more virtual, immersive, and collaborative learning methods that ensure a strong culture of growth across all teams.

We have seen this illustrated through Skillsoft’s collection of courses, with “Virtual Work in the New Normal” becoming a top Aspire Journey course for the second year in a row. While remote work is an adjustment, more companies accessing corporate eLearning and remote training will help to create more opportunities for employees to grow in their careers and help organisations to function effectively in hybrid mode.

As we emerge from unprecedented times, organisations and leaders must do all they can to look out for their people to integrate into the modern workforce and strive towards new heights.

About the author: Rosie Cairnes is VP, Skillsoft Asia-Pacific.

For more insights into why personalised coaching is essential for leaders to stay ahead, join Rashim Mogha, General Manager, Leadership and Business Solutions, Skillsoft, at HR Tech Festival Asia 2022, where her session will take place on Wednesday, May 11, 12.30-pm-1pm (SGT).