How Corporate Training Has Evolved

Last updated: Jan 17, 2023

Professional development and corporate training are constantly morphing to reflect the times. To keep up with the changing executive education landscape, learn how corporate training has evolved and how you can make the most of today’s professional learning experience.


The Pandemic Changed (Almost) Everything

COVID-19 radically accelerated many innovations in corporate training that had been, up until then, a gradual evolution. Although the pandemic forced an effective end to in-person training, businesses couldn’t afford to put capability building permanently on hold. Cue the boom in digital. In 2020 and 2021, companies pivoted hard to online, digital, and virtual learning. Though the digital format had existed long before shutdowns, by necessity it quickly has become the primary mode of instruction.


The amount of time people could spend on professional development also went through a swift recalibration. Before the pandemic, the average worker had only 24 minutes a week to learn new skills. Subtract a commute and all social gatherings and, voilá, employees could easily find time for training.


Just how much did online training grow during the pandemic? One online learning platform reported a 15-fold increase in the number of new learners in a single month and a 161 percent expansion in registrations for the year.


What the pandemic did not change was the need for employees to refresh their skillset and develop new ways of approaching their work. So, let’s dig into what you’ll discover today in the ever-changing world of corporate training.


A group of professionals sitting in a classroom completing a corporate training before the pandemic.

Big Change No. 3: How You Learn

Delivery in a digital format is obviously the universal upgrade in executive education. But the evolution to digital takes a number of innovative forms you’ll appreciate as an enrollee.


Omnichannel Instruction

As on-site learning reopens, professional training participants expect to have a range of choices in how their lessons are delivered. Corporate trainers have begun blending the physical experience of a classroom or conference room with synchronous and asynchronous content, some online, some in-person. When omnichannel comes into play, mobile modules, interactive platforms, a learn-at-your-own-pace approach, and anytime-anywhere learning is on tap.


Customized Content

Corporate training can be personalized for your company’s culture, your specific team, your location, and your company’s business goals. Data and technology figures into many cutting-edge programs, too, with corporate trainers adapting AI to influence their course content and even to the creation of recommender systems, which is similar to how Netflix operates: “If you completed Course A, you could get an even bigger career boost from Course B.”



A digital badge is the primary gamifying tool of executive education. Badging has changed, well, the game. First promoted about a decade ago by the MacArthur Foundation, badging began as a motivational and community-building tool. Now, it is the slightly competitive trophy that demonstrates to the world your mastery of a subject. And gamifying training absolutely incentivizes participants. For instance, IBM reports that 92 percent of survey respondents said that their digital badges improve their employability.


On the fringes of gamifying are learning tools such as surveys and game-like exercises that reinforce course content. Some instructors teach content embedded in simulations that have a definite Xbox vibe, allowing you to earn points and unlock digital rewards.


Gamification in the extreme? Virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality applications are being developed and deployed more widely in online professional courses. Pilots in training have flight simulators, of course, but now nurses in training can tour the aorta, or traders in training can journey through a blockchain visualization with their classmates.


Big Change No. 2: What You Learn

Corporate training is a win-win for employers and staff, improving employee engagement, retention, and company culture. But new-school workplace learning has to deliver on content as never before. The emphasis is now on both subject matter expertise and career growth.


Industry-Specific Content

Old-school survey courses are outdated in today’s dynamic marketplace. Instead, opt for an array of programs focused on essential skills in fast-evolving industries. For instance, USF’s Digital Marketing Certificate is a two-course immersion into search engine marketing and paid social media, skills you must have as a modern digital marketer.


Targeted Technology Training

If you think of technology training as on-demand, instantaneous microlearning that arrives in the form of code samples, IT chats, and problem-solving video clips, you’ll be impressed by the meaningful professional instruction now available. Today’s training is designed to solve real-world challenges. It can be short-term training for an enterprise platform – for instance, Salesforce skills – or it can be more advanced technology instruction, such as UX design or cybersecurity training.


Power Skills

Successful companies prioritize the development of new leaders and take succession training very seriously. Behavioral skills, effective communication, and relationship training are central to the core competencies of leadership and management courses.


Big Change No. 1: Who Pays for Your Learning

More than 90 percent of companies have some type of educational benefit program, enabling the organization to pay some or all costs of your education. A degree is one path, but so is a skill-building professional development program. Employee training can be arranged by the company and conducted in a group setting on-site or online. Or you can pursue it on your own, either paying for it yourself or requesting your company foot the bill.


Employer Tuition Reimbursement

When the pandemic prompted many companies to institute a salary freeze, one tactic to keep employees from jumping ship was to expand professional development programs. Smart move. According to a recent LinkedIn study, 94 percent of employees would stay with a company longer if it invested in their career.


Ideally, your company provides for on-site or online corporate training with expert faculty from a school like USF. But many employers also offer reimbursement programs, paying out in one of two ways:

  1. Your employer pays the school directly for your course.
  2. You pay for the course out of pocket and your employer reimburses you after you complete it.

In terms of tax deduction, your employer can give you educational assistance up to $5,250. They can provide more, but anything above that threshold amount may be taxed.


Pitching the Idea of Reimbursement as a Policy

If your company does not yet offer on-site corporate training or a tuition reimbursement program, sell your manager on the idea. Also, remind leadership that establishing a corporate training or reimbursement program can help the company in several ways:

  • It retains top talent.
  • It improves employee engagement and loyalty.
  • It builds more collaborative teams.
  • It improves productivity.
  • It inspires innovation.


Requesting Training

If you are ready to pursue professional training, but you’re required to make a formal request of your employer to cover the course fee, draft an effective training request letter. This letter will clearly present the benefits to you and to the company.


A professional male on a video conference call with four other people completing an online training.

USF’s Training Programs Can Transform Your Career and Your Company

Corporate Training and Professional Education at USF partners with companies like Amazon, Citibank, and Bristol-Myers Squibb to deliver corporate training across the United States. We offer a broad array of programs to give your team the precise education they need in both on-site and live online formats. Volume discounts and group pricing options are available. Our programs are taught by industry experts and backed by the reputation of USF. And yes, you and your colleagues who complete our programs can earn a new digital badge for LinkedIn and your resumé.


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