The expectations of today’s learner have changed, and corporations must keep pace with those expectations to keep employees happy and attract new talent. But that’s not the only thing driving change in the corporate training landscape. Employers have finally recognized that an organization with a strong learning culture, one that is aligned with business strategies and goals, will outperform its competition.
Few would argue that Learning and Development is now more critical than ever to any corporation’s long-term success. This awareness has spurred a number of improvements to the corporate training landscape.
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Several factors have contributed to the evolution of corporate training and the increasingly central role of learning within companies. In this article, we'll go over some trends L&D professionals can’t ignore anymore.
1) The Rise of eLearning
From its humble beginnings as computer-based training, the use of eLearning has grown to a multi-billion dollar market. According to Todd Maddox of Amalgam Insights, if you combine the corporate and academic eLearning market, it will surpass the $180 billion mark this 2018. The rising costs of instructor-led, classroom-based training is one factor in the increased use of eLearning. Also, the need for continuous, life-long learning has gradually driven its growth.
Learning and Development professionals have known for years that compliance training is particularly well suited to an eLearning platform. Then there is the increased need for awareness training (e.g., sexual harassment, inclusiveness, and diversity, etc.), topics which are also addressed quite efficiently and effectively with eLearning.
The use of eLearning doesn’t end with compliance and awareness training, however. Increasingly sophisticated platforms have made even soft skills training a practical reality for this approach. Add to that the potential for significant cost savings, and it’s not difficult to predict the continued expansion of eLearning for years to come.
2) Attracting and Retaining Employees through Learning and Development
Training is increasingly being viewed as an employee incentive, right along with health and retirement benefits. Workers understand that access to training will help them refine existing skills and develop new ones, ultimately making them more successful in their roles. Employee retention is rapidly replacing compliance as a key driver of training.
In fact, attracting and retaining top talent is a major challenge for most corporations today. In a recent Gallup poll, more than half of all currently employed adults are either actively searching for a new job or are at least passively entertaining other career opportunities. Using online training software as part of a digital learning strategy is one way to help employees develop proficiencies that will not only help the company but keep them engaged and productive in their current jobs.
3) Skills Gap Continues to Grow Among Companies
With the rapid pace of technological development, most employees have realized that they will need to become lifelong learners to remain competitive in today’s workplace. With the continuous emergence of new technologies and new business practices, the skills that were required to succeed yesterday are not the same as those required to succeed today or tomorrow.
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Skills shortages are being created by digital transformation across all industries. In fact, many employers are facilitating the re-skilling and up-skilling of employees as a way to keep positions filled that might otherwise have remained vacant while Human Resources worked to recruit the necessary talent. According to a Payscale Research Report, approximately 33% of companies had open positions for six months or more, due to a lack of skilled or qualified candidates.
Companies must increasingly anticipate the benchmarks of the future, and plan proactively to meet them. If employers want to fill skills gaps with appropriately skilled workers, they need to provide employees with the development opportunities to meet the demands of their current as well as future roles.
One effective way to address the skills gap is the use of eLearning and micro-learning. Employees can learn new skills, or refine and update current skills using these highly interactive and agile technologies. Additionally, since they are online and mobile, learners can accomplish their learning objectives more quickly and conveniently.
4) Millennials View Learning Differently Than Previous Generations
By the year 2025, the Millennial generation is projected to comprise 75% of employees globally. Not only do they rank Learning and Development as a high priority, they expect their training to use the mobile devices that have become such an integral part of their lives.
Millennials grew up with mobile phones, laptops, and social media, so they have come to expect the same type of access to technology at work. Also, they don’t expect to be in a classroom to learn something. They can tap into training and information when they need it, not based on a published class schedule.
Learning is about helping people develop quantifiable and practical skills, not passing a multiple-choice quiz. Millennials expect learning to be decision-driven so that new information can be internalized and quickly translated into action. They also expect it to be offered “just in time” training, available when and where they need it.
5) Anywhere, Anytime Culture
In our “24/7” world, all learners (not just Millennials) are increasingly demanding training that is immediately accessible. They expect learning to happen whenever and wherever they happen to have the time. Since more and more people are constantly connected to a mobile device, they are always close to a point of access. This means never having to wait for training.
Instructor-led classes that are conducted in person haven’t disappeared quite yet. Mobile training options are coming on strong, however, since they are often more practical than classroom-based alternatives. Plus mobile training can merge social, video, and gamification aspects of training, making it attractive to Millennials and Generation Z employees.
6) Distributed Teams
Love it or hate it, telecommuting is here to stay. This makes the use of distance learning imperative, not only for the individual learner, but for the distributed work team as well. In this model, Human Resources provides the resources, and team members take responsibility for connecting with fellow learners in a virtual setting. Corporations are increasingly connecting and empowering their employees to take charge of their own learning.
Distance learning is particularly important for Millennials, who value work-life balance and flexibility to spend more time with family. Telecommuting, and therefore distance learning, is an excellent way to attract and retain Millennials, keeping them motivated and productive.
7) Personalized Experiences
The days of “off-the-shelf” training programs are rapidly coming to a close. Employees expect their training to be relevant to their own unique situation. This means adapting content based on several things, including:
- Work environment
- Company background
- Organizational culture
- Individual employee experience
- Job performance
- Country of origin
With eLearning and rapidly advancing technologies, there is cause for optimism and excitement that customized training will become the norm. And when learning improves, a company improves.
If employers wish to attract and retain top talent for their organizations, then they will need to pay more attention to their learning and development activities. Continuous technological developments have made lifelong learning a necessity. In this environment, employees expect a learner-centric experience, with access to training anytime, anywhere, and on any device. Businesses are increasingly turning to eLearning and micro-learning to help their employees keep pace in this highly dynamic world of work.