A Paradigm Shift In Chinese Learning Market

Technology-Enabled Training: A New Era
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Summary: The training market in China is primarily driven by the traditional Instructor-Led Training method; however, organizations are aiming to transform conventional training methods into advanced eLearning training methods. Let's explore what the top 5 changes expected in the Chinese training market are.

A Shift Toward Technology-Enabled Training

The outbreak of the mysterious COVID-19 virus has had a significant impact on the labor market, and because of this trainer rates are expected to increase (5-10%) in China. International training firms have already suspended onsite training programs in China for the safety of trainers and coaching experts. The suspension of flights to China has led to supply-chain disruption, which has had a huge impact on L&D operations at ground level. Companies are strategically incorporating advanced eLearning methods into the L&D format in order to align with organizational goals. As part of a cost optimization framework, companies are coming up with short-term (quick fixes) and long-term (high value) training plans. Currently, only 40-50% of companies are using eLearning techniques in employee training for particular business segments.

Short-Term Plans (Quick Wins)

The quick-win analysis involves the inspection of internal training culture and channelizing the business segments by using appropriate delivery methods. The below elements can be used as quick-fix measures:

  1. Procuring off-the-shelf content
  2. Plug-in microlearning
  3. Incorporating corporate MOOCs
  4. Gamified Virtual Reality

1. Off-The-Shelf Services

Most of the organizations are using tailor-made content solutions and co-developed content by using internal resources; however, the amount of time and cost involved in content customization and conversion are significantly higher when compared to off-the-shelf courses. To avoid maverick spend, most of the companies are shifting toward ready-made content. The demand for mobile compatible, multi-lingual, ready-made/packaged content is increasing rapidly in China. Training suppliers foresee the growth potential in services such as Instructional Design and delivery services, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), soft skills, business communication, direct or indirect discrimination in workplace training (off-the-shelf) in China.

2. Co-Branded Corporate MOOCs

It is estimated that the overall new hire training spend will shoot up as organizations are coming up with robust hiring plans to overcome the labor shortage issue. As a cost optimization step, L&D strategists are considering Corporate Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) as one of the effective solutions to improve on-the-job performance.

MOOCs are a powerful tool that can make learning substantially easier for larger firms, offer scalable learner analytics, support a large number of learners, offer vast courseware from various renowned suppliers, and act as a platform for interactive discussion forums (experts/professors and learners across the globe). They also offer learners the opportunity to obtain certifications from different, top global universities. Another interesting feature of MOOCs is video content or lecture streaming with auto-generated captioning (subtitles) in multiple languages.

3. Gamified Virtual Reality

Chinese organizations are using simulation and game-based learning services, but usage is limited to salesforce training. Virtual Reality in corporate training is still in the nascent stage. Companies are focusing on deploying reusable, scalable training solutions to enhance knowledge retention rates.

Virtual Reality training is known for its real-time immersive experience and learner engagement features. A Guangzhou-based pharmaceutical manufacturing company is investing in Virtual Reality training with multi-lingual modules rather than hiring an Instructional Designer to develop the content. They will focus on potential quick-fix segments, such as procuring robust learning technological solutions. Once China recovers from the adverse actions of the coronavirus outbreak, they want to bounce back with rapid action plans to streamline training for existing employees and new hires.

4. Microlearning

Microlearning is an effective training method, but not widely observed in China. Once microlearning was used as a knowledge-reinforcement tool, but now organizations are using it as a standalone method. Microlearning comes in many different forms, such as short-video nuggets (1-15 mins of bite-sized content), short games, quizzes, or interactive infographics.

A Hong Kong-based electronic company has incorporated microlearning into its L&D format to assess employees' knowledge retention rates (employees returning to work after long leave, maternity, sabbatical, etc.). They are using microlearning to reiterate the technical skills of the workforce by offering bite-sized eLearning modules.

Long-Term Plans (High Value)

This means implementing a centralized governance structure at the global level in order to achieve spend visibility.

MTSP Model

This is a strategic outsourcing method that involves engaging with one or more suppliers who can manage the end-to-end training activities, including vendor management at the central level (e.g., managed training service provider). The time frame is around 8-12 months, and the complexity of implementation is high with this model. The key components of the MTSP model are learning administration, strategic sourcing and vendor management, content management and learning technology support. This is considered a high-potential model with respect to cost reduction.

  • Benefits
    • Content consistency across locations
    • Cost-saving (10-20%)—consolidates supplier base and bulk-purchasing
    • Automation of training administration
    • Technology-enabled demand, planning, and scheduling
    • Spend visibility

This is an emerging trend in developing economies like China. Generally, organizations with a large training budget tend to implement the MTSP model at either a global or regional level. Global procurement leaders are anticipating the need for a centralized training structure.


In order to mitigate the risk, Chinese organizations are developing a holistic training framework at the organizational level to embrace the change in the L&D ecosystem. Companies in China are focusing on incorporating simple, reusable, flexible, low-risk training services and deploying advanced eLearning modalities to carry out sustainable L&D functions. Establishing impactful, quick-fix measures would result in cost optimization and effective ROI.