Ten Years On … in learning & development
With the next roaring 20s a month away, what has had the biggest impact on the learning industry in the last ten years and what will be the most significant catalyst in the next decade?
The rise of user-generated learning content, the Gig Economy, the Internet of Things and cybersecurity have all had an influence on the global learning & development industry since 2010. Ten years ago, when Apple launched the iPad, Samsung was raving about 3D TV and Windows 7 was the latest Microsoft upgrade, it was blended learning that was the buzzword in our community.
According to surveys that the CIPD released at that time, most learning was HR-led, and the goal was to align learning with business strategy. Most L&D content was developed from scratch and available through eLearning or blended learning in mid-sized or larger companies with SMEs reliant on public courses from learning providers. Measurement and evaluation were the challenges most L&D professionals highlighted as their biggest concern. Looking back, it was clear that learning was company-focussed, with employees being the assets that HR teams were responsible for developing, and the individuals benefitting almost as a biproduct of the company’s investment in training.
Now self-directed study is so pervasive that most individuals don’t even realise they’re taking part. Whether listening to an industry podcast on the way to work, checking out a YouTube clip before kicking off a project or downloading bite-sized learning modules for a very specific activity, the motivated learner has many ways to improve their skills and knowledge, without having to wait for training to be signed off by a line manager. Little in the learning news or research a decade ago spoke of diversity and inclusion, with accessibility of material a ‘nice to have’, rather than compulsory.
Now learning professionals have a host of ways to support active learning, a plethora of certifications to add professional qualifications and there has been a mainstreaming of behavioural learning and accessibility, as more is understood about neurodiversity and other, often hidden, disabilities.
Measurement remains a challenge, and certification continues to be an important way to formalise achievement. Significantly, the responsibility to keep ahead of the curve is more fairly shared between the individual and their employer.
We know the difference having a recognised certification can make. According to the IT Skills & Salary Survey, the majority of managers who authorised training last year did so to prepare their teams for certification or recertification. Ninety-three per cent of decision-makers still believe that certified employees bring value to the organisation above and beyond the cost of certification. Global Knowledge has taken this to heart. For example, Global Knowledge provides the largest number of ISAC training courses in the UK, and was recently declared their Delivery Partner of the Year. The ISAC Association develops and administers governance, risk and compliance certifications, and the partnership between learning provider and certification body benefits the learner with a clear route to qualification.
Looking ahead, what can be predicted about the learning industry? With climate change now a widely shared concern, will pressure from staff, customers and shareholders result in cuts to business travel and make classroom training obsolete? It’s unlikely. The face to face experience is still an effective way to transfer knowledge, and many of us still prefer it. But the opportunities to join distant learning sessions, where the instructor can respond to questions and check a delegate’s progress despite them not being present in person, will continue to grow.
The trend for self-study, whether funded by an employer, the employee or taken free or charge, will also flourish. The Gig Economy and the flexible working hours that are becoming more and more prevalent will mean that learning events will need to be available at even more convenient times, through easy-to-participate channels.
There’s concern for how we train for jobs that we don’t yet know exist, but that has always been a challenge for learning professionals. Who could have imagined there would be such a need for AI specialists? That cybersecurity skills would be so in demand that the salaries for qualified professionals are some of the highest in the IT industry?
Change is something we’re good at. Learning and development managers work everyday with the ongoing demand for skills from their businesses. The biggest change will probably not be a futuristic technology that we can’t yet image. It’s more likely to be the changing role for L&D teams, as they orchestrate solutions for a multi-talented, diverse group of employees, each with very personalised training habits, desires and requirements. As the 2020s roll out, the individualisation of learning will be what matters most.