4 Key Insights Into Corporate Learning In Europe, The Middle East, Japan, And China

Corporate Learning In Europe, The Middle East, Japan, And China

The survey, that reveals 4 corporate key insights into corporate learning in Europe, the Middle East, Japan, and China, shows that:

  • Learning and leadership development is valued, though not prioritized.
  • Talent and management issues –notably recruitment, training, and executive education / leadership development– are priorities for senior leaders.
  • Up to now, learning and leadership development programs haven’t lived up to senior professionals’ expectations – but these professionals are optimistic that future programs will be worthwhile.
  • Organizations have tried to measure the impact of executive education and leadership development, but they don’t always succeed.

Furthermore, this year’s top learning priorities are:

  • Strategy and planning.
  • Customer engagement.
  • Strategy execution.
  • Leadership capabilities.
  • Successful innovation.

Learning Technologies

Although not specifically focusing on the use of learning technologies, the survey touched on such issues as asking whether the respondent’s organization is ‘well-prepared to adapt to new technologies, such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence’.

Overall, 44% of respondents agreed that their organizations were well-prepared. However, there was a wide variation in national responses. Japan (21%) and the Nordic region (26%) claimed to be least well-prepared, while China (78%), followed by Spain (49%), the UK (48%), and the Middle East (48%) were the most confident on this issue. It was only respondents in France who fitted the overall response exactly on this issue.

Overall, in terms of job role, confidence on this issue was highest among C-suite executives (56%) and Presidents/ MDs (69%) and lowest among learning and development professionals (37%).

Long-Term Benefits

The survey is the second annual Corporate Learning Pulse survey undertaken by FT | IE Corporate Learning Alliance – a joint venture between the London-based Financial Times and Madrid-based IE Business School. Last year, the Survey discovered the views of some 600 ‘C-suite’ executives, HR and Learning and Development professionals across Europe. This year’s survey questioned almost 1,000 executives and expanded its global reach to include the Middle East, Japan, and China.

According to FT | IE Corporate Learning Alliance’s CEO, VanDyck Silveira:

This year’s results reveal that organizations are still finding their way when it comes to effectively selecting, implementing and then evaluating their corporate learning and leadership development programs. 

However, the survey shows that senior professionals understand and recognize the long-term benefits of learning and leadership development, even if it isn’t a number-one priority at present – with only 24% of respondents in this year’s survey citing learning and development as a top-three priority for the year,” he adds. “Instead, organizations are more focused on market growth (33%), strategy development and execution (31%), and financial management (26%).”

Nonetheless, 58% of senior professionals believe that learning and leadership development programs are the keys to holding onto their best employees. The same percentage believe that these programs can also deliver tangible and intangible value to their organization, while a similar percentage –53%– believe that investing in their employees via these programs drives change and innovation in their organization.

Some 84% of senior professionals believe that learning and leadership development programs have improved their business knowledge, competencies and confidence; 83% believe that these programs are vital to achieving business goals, and 81% say that executive education/ leadership development is more important than ever.

Satisfaction And Expectation Levels

On the other hand, only 47% of those asked are highly satisfied with their current corporate learning programs. In terms of job roles, C-suite (60%) and Presidents / MDs (75%) are most satisfied with these programs. Senior managers, who’re often the ones engaging in programs, are the least satisfied (39%) – providing an overall figure of 47%. Satisfaction levels with current programs is strongest in China (72%), Spain (64%) and Germany (57%).

The main reason for dissatisfaction is the inability to measure the programs’ effects and, therefore, the value of these programs. Other key reasons for dissatisfaction are that the programs are inflexible, impractical and irrelevant.

Furthermore, only 47% of respondents say that senior leaders in their organization believe past investments have added value to the organization. Respondents from China (69%), Spain (60%), and Germany (60%) were the most positive on this point.

Yet 53% of respondents say that senior leaders believe future investments will add value to their organization. This view of senior leadership’s perception of future investments is especially strong among respondents in China (84%), Spain (60%), and Germany (59%).

Senior professionals expect programs to have a positive impact on organizational change (48% say so), understanding of their company’s strategy and vision (48%) and improving employee engagement (42%).

In terms of the business outcomes they expect, 58% say that programs should have a positive impact on revenue, profit, and margins, improve customer engagement and satisfaction (55%) and attract top talent (51%). Respondents from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries in the Middle East were the strongest believers in achieving these outcomes through learning and development programs.


While 72% of senior professionals said their organization has tried to make a link between programs and employee satisfaction, and 51% of senior professionals report that programs have had an impact on their organization, only 37% of respondents can report seeing a tangible impact on employee engagement.

Thirty-four per cent report seeing an impact on customer satisfaction, and 32% can attribute a positive impact from programs on revenue, profit, and margins, as well as on employee satisfaction.

Selecting Partners And Programs

When it comes to selecting partners and programs, 42% of senior professionals say they make their choice on the results these providers will bring for the business. The other two key selection criteria are that the learning content delivered is both current and practical (41%), and the provider’s ranking and reputation (36%).

Within the Nordic region, the GCC states and China the most important criterion for choosing a program provider is that the provider will customize the program to the particular organization’s needs.

The 2017 Corporate Learning Pulse global survey report is available to download here.

A video summary of the 2017 report findings can be viewed here.