Let us take L&D on a transformation journey in 2018

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Something has to be said that has been said many times before: L&D needs to transform itself. We are in an age of constant business change and L&D needs to keep up. Better still, L&D needs to be helping drive business transformation, creating a culture of agility and continuous learning that ensures organisations are at the forefront of change.

We have talked about this many times in our reports over the past 15 years. The L&D community keeps talking about it too. We talked about it in our recent report ‘L&D: Where are we now?’, a report that outlined the findings of our latest benchmarking survey and was released in November 2017.

And we talk about it again in our newest report ‘The Transformation Curve’, which will be released at the end of this month. But, the problem, as we have said many times, is that L&D keeps talking about changing and transforming, but isn’t actually achieving it. Or not on the scale that it needs to.

There are pockets of excellence, where L&D is pushing forward with change and reporting some great results as a result, but many organisations are still in the very early stages. Yes we are making better use of technology in L&D but are we using technology to the max?

Do we have the skills, capabilities and attitudes to fully exploit all that technology has to offer? The ‘L&D: Where are we now?’ report shows that the profession is well-resourced and technology-enabled, but it has not created an agile learning culture as yet.

So what does L&D need to do to become an agile learning organisation? First of all, it needs to do what we did in the November report: establish the current situation. Where is L&D now? What is working? What isn’t? What needs to change? You have to know your starting point in order to identify where you need to go, how and why.

Consider this for example: face-to-face learning still dominates the learning landscape. It accounts for 55% of all formal learning, even though we all know that technology-enabled learning is actually where it’s at. There is some progress towards a more digital approach, however:

  • Just under a third (32%) of formal learning is now supported by technology to some extent
  • Almost a quarter (23%) of organisations are using a blend of face-to-face and online learning and a significant number (78%) are looking to increase this over the next two years
  • 22% of formal learning is wholly online but that number is expected to rise dramatically over the next two years, with 72% of organisations looking to build on their current provision.

Where organisations are making good use of technology is with compliance and mandatory training, but soft skills training is largely still delivered face-to-face.

Our findings suggest this situation is changing as take-up of e-enabling skills for soft skills learning programmes, such as leadership and management, problem solving, communication and collaboration and team working has increased rapidly since 2016.

The report shows that the L&D profession is being held back from achieving transformation partly because it lacks the necessary skills. Nine out of ten organisations that took part in our benchmarking survey recognised the need for skills such as stakeholder engagement, technology skills, developing content, performance consulting, collaboration and data analytics, but only 30% have audited their L&D workforce against these skills.

What skills does the profession want to develop in 2018?

  • facilitating collaboration 75%
  • data analytics 70%
  • digital content development 66%
  • webinar delivery 65%
  • technology/infrastructure 60%

Are organisations investing enough in learning technologies? Only 22% of organisational training budgets are currently being spent on learning technologies. But that isn’t all that is preventing the implementation of new technologies. L&D says the cost of set-up, development and maintenance is a major barrier, cited by 66% of respondents.

However, skills and attitudes are also to blame: a lack of skills amongst L&D staff to implement and manage technology-enabled learning is cited by 53% of participants.

L&D needs to get past these hurdles and we plan to help with our next report. ‘The Transformation Curve’ sets out what it is that L&D professionals need to do to achieve business transformation.

In this report we talk about the New Learning Organisation and we highlight the six key characteristics of the learning organisation. This report sets out a very clear roadmap for learning transformation – follow this and 2018 will finally be the year of transformation.

To find out more about the January report and what L&D needs to do to achieve transformation, join us at Learning Technologies on January 31st from 5pm, when we will launch our new research. Places are available on a first come, first served basis and will be upstairs in the conference space, with drinks to follow. Even if you are attending the exhibition or conference please do ensure you reserve your place here.

Get ready to go on a  journey!

About Laura Overton

About Laura Overton

Laura Overton is managing director of Towards Maturity

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