According to the research, most Learning and Development professionals, 87%, believe that business planning is a top priority for the profession, but only 47% said they had the necessary skills in-house to achieve organizational change. In addition, whilst 96% of respondents said supporting learners online was a top priority, only 36% said they had the capabilities to enable this.
Ruth Stuart, research adviser at the CIPD says, “It’s very interesting how, as Learning and Development professionals, we constantly champion the importance of staying ahead of the game in terms of skills and capabilities, but don’t take our own advice. In this volatile work environment we need to be agile, adaptive and ambidextrous to drive performance and stay relevant, aligning our work to the wider business.” And despite signs that Learning and Development roles are evolving, the profession is not keeping up with the pace of change required, according to the research.
As Stuart adds, “We need to ensure that the correct Learning and Development resources, roles and capabilities are in place.” She continues, “Evaluating your team’s current skill base, starting to build on capability gaps, and then making continuous professional development (CPD) an everyday reality are the first steps.”
Workplace Learners Are Now The Real Learning and Development Game-Changers
I think she is correct in much of what she says, but it seems to me that the training process is now no longer wholly owned and managed by Learning and Development. Staff need to have access to resources and tools to solve their own problems. In order to enable this, Learning and Development staff need to work closely with teams and individuals to identify solutions to meet their needs. Staff know what they want and are taking the lead on their training requirements, as opposed to just accepting what is imposed upon them.
However, in order for this to happen, the Learning and Development department needs to collaborate with teams and individuals to understand the solutions to help solve the challenges they face and so explore the solutions that might help. I also don’t think this means putting technology to the top of the list as a solution (although it does play a significant part in training which I will address later); it starts by first changing the actual training. And it’s learners who are the real game-changers.
Learners are forcing companies to adapt training and are becoming super sophisticated in their understanding of how they want their learning to look and how they want it to be delivered. Companies are now being pressed to give employees greater performance support in a time-efficient, super-targeted and directly relevant way using methods that they can easily access.
Workplace Training: Flexible, blended learning, from Virtual Training to Immersive Technology
Many companies use in-classroom workshops training as primary means of learning. But in a time where budgets are tight and teams can be spread nationally and internationally, this just isn't easy anymore. Flexibility in training is essential to bridging the gap between skills and capabilities. The use of training technologies will increase dramatically in the next decade, as technology improves and the cost of technology decreases and as companies recognize the significant savings of training using desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones to facilitate the likes of virtual training.
And immersive technology is also poised to create a real buzz in my opinion, as one of the most amazing, futuristic technologies currently in development. I actually read about Microsoft’s plans to develop hardware and software capable of offering holographic meetings for remote workers two years ago. But when I came across news this year about the effectiveness of immersive technology for increasing student engagement,  I was super excited. Who wouldn't be?
Amazing stuff indeed, and yes, whether its holographic or immersive, these technologies will revolutionize how we communicate and how we train, learn and engage. In some way or other, it is sure to filter down to Learning and Development professionals. Imagine it: cross country, even cross continent, holographic training! If that isn't ‘agile, adaptive and ambidextrous’ and so in some way able bridge the gap by enabling a new way for people to exchange, develop and ultimately improve their training, I don’t know what is!