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The significance of a learning pathway for your employees

September 28, 2021 - 17 min read



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What is a learning pathway applied to the workplace?

What are the benefits of learning pathways?

Why are learning pathways so relevant now?

How to build a learning pathway

Bridge the skills gap with a learning pathway

Creating a company culture of learning at work is important if you want your organization to thrive.

There are always new learning opportunities for employees to develop their skills and grow professionally.

But it’s important for employees to know where they're headed with their learning.

As with any professional goal, you need to be aware of your end destination to know when you’ve reached your target.

This is where a learning pathway becomes so useful.

This step-by-step plan is like a detailed map of your employee's professional development. It gives them a clear vision of how to develop the skills they need for their career and personal growth.

Let’s take a look at how to build learning pathways for your employees at work and the benefits of doing so.

What is a learning pathway applied to the workplace?

It is difficult to reach a destination you’ve never been to without a map. When learning a new skill, learners need clear learning objectives and milestones. This helps them understand their progress along the way.

So, what is a learning pathway?

A learning pathway is a designated educational route with distinct steps. These steps allow learners to fully grasp the beginning, middle, and end of achieving a new skill.

It is a learning path with:

  • A clearly outlined trajectory
  • Marked milestones
  • A final destination


A well-mapped learning pathway allows learners to clearly measure their advancement. Plus, it helps them find satisfaction in moving past each phase of their learning experience.

In the workplace, companies incorporate learning pathways into upskilling programs. This guides employees through each phase of training. Some of these upskilling programs are synchronous while others are asynchronous learning programs. 

Using learning pathways in your business’ upskilling program has many benefits. Both the company and individual employees can reap the rewards.

What are the benefits of learning pathways?

The biggest benefit of learning pathways is helping individuals achieve a new skill. Besides this, work learning pathways come with several other perks.

Here are some benefits that both employees and employers can enjoy.

For employers

Let’s look at five employer benefits.

1. Helps to achieve organizational goals and objectives

All businesses should have both long and short-term goals for the future. Using learning pathways can help your company actualize those goals in an organized way.

2. Increases employee engagement

Employee engagement is a vital part of running a business. Yet only 15% of the global workforce feels engaged at their job. 86% of them say that workplace education would improve their overall job experience.


Providing an educational experience will not only make your business more competitive. It will also increase your employee’s engagement levels. Higher employee engagement means happier, more motivated, and more productive workers.

3. Improves employee retention

The incentive to stay at a company is much higher when an employee has opportunities for growth. Providing employees with the right training program will make them less likely to leave.

With ongoing learning programs, their future prospects will already be secured.

4. Creates more structure

An educational advancement system can help create a better structure within the workplace. It makes sure that the organization is always progressing.

It also provides necessary structure to the career trajectories of each employee.

5. Enhances long-term productivity

Learning pathways equip employees with valuable tools and information. This way, work will become more streamlined and productive down the line.

Work out which skills will be vital in the upcoming years and provide the necessary training. This kind of planning will save time, energy, and money when your business may need it most.

For employees

Now, let’s look at five employee benefits.

1. Boosts morale

Being given the tools for education at work makes employees feel cared for by their company. It will also get them excited for the future.

Growth opportunities are becoming increasingly relevant for workplace morale. Learning pathways are one way to draw out positivity from employees.

2. Puts employees in control of their learning

Being left in the same job position with no future prospects can make employees feel depressed and helpless.

Well-curated learning pathways put the reins back into employees’ hands. This gives them more control over their personal and professional learning goals.


3. Helps to achieve long-term career goals

It's essential for businesses to be adaptable and resilient. The COVID-19 pandemic and advancements in technology have made this even more relevant. Adaptability is the new competitive advantage.

Upskilling is currently thought to be the most important component of business progression. It enables both employees and businesses to achieve their future goals with efficiency. Creating and achieving goals further enables employees to bring their five year plan to life.

4. Empowers employees

Education is one of the most empowering gifts one can receive. Giving employees access to a learning pathway can equip them with the tools they need to pursue a fulfilling career. It will also help them find satisfaction in their work.

Provide employees with valid opportunities for professional growth. This kind of support is one of the simplest, most effective ways to empower them.

5. Improves employees’ sense of value

Many employees around the world feel undervalued and underutilized at work. A study found that 79% of employees who quit their jobs cite a lack of appreciation as a key reason for leaving.

Companies can prevent this by providing the opportunity for more knowledge and experience. This way, employees can begin to feel more valued and relevant to their workplace.

Why are learning pathways so relevant now?

The world is in the midst of a global pandemic. Now, workplace education is more important than ever before.

So, what is a work-based learning pathway? How is it relevant to today’s workforce?

The isolation protocols from COVID-19 have meant a huge push for remote workers. Now, it looks like the change is here to stay. It’s estimated that by 2025, remote workers will make up 70% of the American workforce.


As the number of remote workers increases around the world, simple and accessible options for upskilling need to develop. This is an area where learning pathways can make a difference.

Here’s how:

  • With remote working, moving in-person courses online is essential. Learning pathways are specifically adapted to digital courses. This makes them ideal for the many remote workers seeking to further their education.
  • Learning pathways allow for a wider range of learning activities for virtual teams. They can apply to just about any skill. This means that no business sector should get left out from the benefits of this learning format.
  • In these unpredictable times, flexibility is an asset for any business. Learning pathways are highly flexible. They’re applicable to a range of different skills. They're also accessible to everyone with a working device.

Learning pathways are relevant today because of their:

  • Accessibility
  • Flexibility
  • Effectiveness

Today, there is a wide range of online learning courses available. Setting up remote training with learning pathways is an affordable and simple solution for companies — especially in the current economic and technological landscape.

How to build a learning pathway

Developing a watertight upskilling program for your company doesn't have to be a complicated process.

Regardless of the industry you work in, your business will have its own goals, ambitions, and limitations. These will shape the overall direction of your learning pathway.

Using these five steps, anyone can set up a viable workplace education system that benefits both employees and employers.

1. Assess your organization’s skill needs

There’s no point in designing a learning pathway if you don’t know where you want it to go. Performing a skills gap analysis on your team will provide insight into which skills are lacking. And it will show how much interest there is in the program.

You should first have a clear understanding of which areas provide the biggest opportunities for growth. Then you can begin to build your learning pathway.

2. Clearly define the learning goal

It is much easier to achieve a goal once it has been firmly established. Learning pathways include one clear objective and a series of small, concise steps of how to reach it.

Establishing your learning goal is an important part of developing a successful learning pathway.

The objective should be reasonable and relevant to your business’ industry. Doing research on popular, in-demand skills within your field will give you an idea of what your learning goal could be.

3. Set deliverables and milestones

Learning pathways require the crucial elements of set deliverables and exact milestones. The step-by-step format of a learning pathway is what makes it so effective. Learners know exactly what they are aiming for and how many steps it will take to get there.

Having clear-cut steps and goals helps learners move forward and find satisfaction during the process. This is true even if the steps are small. Consider each step as a miniature goal itself.

4. Identify ways to motivate employees

Everyone has a different template for what motivates them. Some people are motivated by status. Others by prizes or recognition.


Finding out which ways your team is best motivated will help you to set up an education system that best appeals to their personalities.

Aside from the reward of being upskilled, digital badges, certificates, or prizes are all effective incentives for completing a learning pathway course.

5. Use different learning styles

Much like communication or work ethics, learning styles can vastly differ from person to person.

Having only one approach to learning may discourage certain employees from taking part. Or it may exclude those with different styles.

Design a learning pathway package that’s flexible in its learning approaches. This will give you a higher number of interested participants in the learning communities. This will also create a much stronger chance of success.

A learning pathway example that’s flexible in its approaches is one where participants can complete it both on their own or as a team. This way, they can utilize the style that works best for them.

Bridge the skills gap with a learning pathway

When it comes down to it, learning pathways are really just a simple tool for educating and equipping everyday people for the future.

Upskilling is a part of today’s business strategy that doesn't only benefit the individual. It benefits the organization they work for as a whole.

The technological advances made in the past five years alone are enough to trigger massive changes in the types of skills required today. On top of that, an unprecedented pandemic has pushed industries into shifting their approach to skills.

Upskilling and reskilling are two vital elements businesses need to succeed. Learning pathways are one way to secure this success.

BetterUp offers courses and advice on how to develop effective workplace education strategies.

Request a demo today and start working on a tailored learning pathway plan that empowers both employees and their employers.

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Published September 28, 2021

Shonna Waters, PhD

Vice President of Alliance Solutions

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