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Modern Learners:

Understanding Who They Are, Their Needs and Preferences

Over the past two decades, technology has transformed our work processes, and the Internet has advanced global collaboration. With Millennials now the largest segment in the workforce, digital natives dominate. Simultaneously, the influx of bit-sized information and the prevalence of multitasking has shortened attention spans, leading to the rise of the “modern learner” seeking immediate solutions in an overwhelmed, distracted, and impatient environment.

Today’s workforce, operating in an ever-changing knowledge environment, exhibit distinct learning preferences and behaviors and demand L&D strategies that are adaptive, personalized, and aligned with their dynamic work environments.

Characteristics of the Modern Learner

Employees are increasingly seeking flexibility, evidenced by the rise in remote working and the need for untethered, collaborative, and on-demand learning opportunities that align with their dynamic work styles. This shift toward more flexible and interactive learning environments was discussed in our first installment on the critical challenges in L&D (Modern Learning & Development: Navigating Challenges and Embracing Efficiency). Here, we emphasized the need for educational experiences that resonate with today’s learners and drive tangible organizational growth. As modern learners dominate the workforce, the demand for adaptive, personalized L&D strategies becomes even more critical to meet their evolving needs


The modern learner is accessing search engines to learn what they need for their jobs. And 91% of smartphone users rely on their smartphones for ideas and quick solutions when tackling tasks or encountering unexpected issues.


The preference for collaborative and social learning is evident, with significant portions of workforce learning occurring through interactions with peers (90%) and informal networks like Google’s peer-to-peer network g2g, where 80% of all tracked training happens via on-the job interactions with peers, teammates and managers.


In today’s rapidly evolving workforce, the modern learner seeks to expand their knowledge and skills to feel empowered. With technology outpacing efforts to address the global skills gap, individuals are increasingly taking initiative to stay relevant. According to the World Economic Forum, new technologies are predicted to replace 85 million jobs between 2020 and 2025, while simultaneously creating 97 million new ones. Additionally, many technical and professional skills have a half-life of only 2 ½ to 5 years, further emphasizing the need for ongoing education and adaptation. As a result, individuals are increasingly seeking learning options independently, as traditional methods may not meet their evolving needs.

Wrapping up

As the workplace continues to evolve, so do the needs and behaviors of modern learners. Embracing flexibility, on-demand resources, and collaborative learning environments are key to addressing these shifts. By understanding and adapting to these characteristics, organizations can foster a culture of continuous learning and empowerment, ensuring they remain competitive in the face of rapid technological change and workforce dynamics.


Stay tuned for the next installment in our L&D series, where we will delve into effective strategies for L&D professionals to enhance their learning initiatives.

Ready to tailor your L&D strategies to meet the needs of modern learners?

Conect with our experts today!

Samantha Hotze
Project Manager, Learning Design

As the Learning and Design Project Manager at Arise, Sam brings over a decade of expertise in Learning and Development to spearhead the Learning as a Service (LaaS) division. With a deep-rooted background that spans facilitation and cutting-edge content creation, Sam excels in crafting and implementing innovative training solutions, incorporating advanced technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence.

Her strategic acumen in building and nurturing partnerships across key sectors—including financial services, hospitality, and retail—enables her to deliver bespoke educational strategies that not only meet but exceed the evolving needs of external clients. At the forefront of Arise’s LaaS business unit, Sam is dedicated to providing state-of-the-art learning resources and tailored training plans that empower clients to achieve their developmental and organizational goals, thereby driving growth and setting new industry benchmarks.