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Investment in L&D Predicted to Increase

Bob Little 

August 19, 2016

One in three organizations plan to increase their L&D spend in the next two years, according to recent research. These organizations claim that they need to increase their investment to respond to the fast-changing needs of today’s workers and businesses.

The research comes from L&D benchmarking company Towards Maturity and its strategic partner, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) – a U.K.-based professional association for people development professionals.

The report, Preparing for the Future of Learning: A Changing Perspective for L&D Leaders, studied more than 600 learning leaders, 1,800 learners, and 170 L&D professionals and members of the CIPD’s Leaders in Learning Network. It identified key areas where they are planning to make a greater investment to ensure that they’re “fit for the future.”

It found that, over the next two years, respondents plan to increase their capacity in online delivery (53 percent), social and collaborative learning (49 percent), and coaching/mentoring (48 percent). Less popular areas include classroom training (23 percent) – which suggests a move away from face-to-face learning toward supporting performance in the flow of work.

It also reveals that, on average, only 19 percent of participating organizations’ L&D budgets are spent on technology, despite the workforce becoming more digital and technologically dependent. Moreover, just 23 percent agree that their L&D teams have the necessary skills to use technology for business advantage.

The study reports that L&D leaders are enthusiastic about the future impact of learning, with 86 percent of those who took part wanting to improve business performance. Currently, though, only 61 percent proactively align L&D activity to strategic goals in their businesses.

Furthermore, only 36 percent of the surveyed L&D professionals claim to have a plan for how they’ll meet agreed business metrics, and one in three say that they are proactive in understanding how people currently learn what they need for their job. The report’s authors conclude that this suggests possible gaps between intention and capability.

Vaughan Waller, Senior Learning Architect for Deloitte Learning Technologies, says, “There’s still far too much attention spent on platforms and content to the detriment of understanding what it is that learners really need to support their performance at work. ‘Predictions for 2016,’ a recent report from Bersin by Deloitte, points out that two thirds of us are ‘overwhelmed’ by being ‘always on’ at work, at home – and even on the train.

“There’s not enough time to consider personal development plans and training options – and only one percent of a typical work week is spent focusing on L&D. The notion that L&D departments should continue to develop corporate L&D strategies with more models, paradigms and systems is missing the point completely.

“Dave Buglass, who’s Head of Capability and Development at Tesco Bank, speaking at the
Corporate L&D Summit in February, showed that we should treat learners as most companies treat their customers and consumers in general.

“First, you find out what they want and what investment they would be prepared to make in that desire, and then provide a product that would fit with their lives. But L&D seems to think that it should continue peddling interventions that few have the time or desire to attend.

“It’s not ‘spend’ that will make the difference in L&D. In fact, some would argue that the solution wouldn’t be expensive at all. Find out what individuals need to support their performance in work while they live and work in a connected world – and then make sure they can access it.

“When you ask them, ‘What do you need?,’ don’t be surprised if they look at you blankly, because they’ll need to think hard about what it is you’re actually asking. They’ll just say that they need what they need when they know what it is. As an L&D department, can you supply that?”

Commenting on the Towards Maturity report’s findings, the organization’s CEO, Laura Overton, says, “Learning leaders recognize that they need to act now to transform the way in which they support learning and work. Top performing L&D teams are between three and five times more likely to be delivering improved productivity and agility today – and they have much to teach us.”

The report also urges L&D professionals to take control of their own development. Currently, only 54 percent of the organizations surveyed provide L&D staff with formal continuing professional development (CPD).

Highlighting the need for L&D professionals to make more of an investment in themselves, Overton adds, “This research highlights the fact that L&D teams must quickly develop new mindsets and skills. Advocating for learners, while not staying up-to-speed with how staff are learning for themselves or with the latest developments in learning, may separate the L&D function from how the business works and what it requires to succeed in the future.”

Andy Lancaster, the CIPD’s Head of Learning and Development Content, comments, “It’s positive to see so many organizations planning investment in L&D over the next couple of years.

“However, the world of work is changing and organizations are increasingly looking for more modern approaches to learning that support the fast-moving world of work and the needs of an increasingly digital workforce. The expectation on the L&D function is therefore high, and L&D professionals need to ensure that they’re as agile as the organizations in which they
operate.”

The report suggests six areas in which L&D teams can have greater impact. They are:

  • Leveraging learning optimism.
  • Integrating learning and work.
  • Actively seeking to understand “internal customers.”
  • Putting technology on the learning agenda.
  • Thinking digitally.
  • Investing in new L&D skills.

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