Many workplaces are excellent examples of how technology can bring enhancements and efficiencies to processes, internal and external engagement and profitability. 

Hence, there is a real drive by many governments to get small and medium sized enterprises, SMEs, to become more innovative to enhance their growth, as they are seen as one of a number of solutions for reducing unemployment and building growth. 

It’s also recognised that building the knowledge and skills of a country’s workforce is key to growth and prosperity and that individuals’ knowledge and skills are the path to unlocking a prosperous future through career development. Most employers know this, but in difficult financial times learning and development is often one of the first budgets to be cut, however this short term measure can have long term negative consequences for a business.

In the US, according to the Training Magazine annual Training Industry Report 2018 Report 2018, the amount of training time being delivered in the classroom was down by 6.5%, the amount of online training was down by 3% and training via mobile devices was also down by 1.9%. This is a worrying trend for future growth and the availability of skilled workers.

In the LinkedIn Workplace Learning report 94% of employees said that if their company invested in their career development they would stay at the company longer. There is also lots of evidence that tells us that when employees receive training they are more engaged, loyal and much more valuable to their employer.

Therefore it’s good that workplace surveys have found that many employers are expecting to invest more in training over the next few years. This is backed up by the predicted growth of the worldwide training industry of 6% over the next 5 years, going from $64.6 billion in 2018 to $91.7 billion in 2024.

Does Technology Transform Learning?However, training is changing as the workplace changes and technology can be seen increasingly aiding or replacing job roles, but this doesn’t mean that businesses are going to require less people, just that people require different skills.

In the World Economic Forum Future of Jobs report it was found that over 54% of employees ‘will require significant reskilling and upskilling in the next three years’. The Deloitte 2019 report on learning and development found that 90% of employers said they are redesigning job roles. But, that they prefer to train existing staff to meet the needs of the new roles, rather than recruit new talent. 84% said they were increasing their investment in reskilling programs.

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However, despite these positive findings the survey found that employers said it’s not happening fast enough to meet the needs of the skills they are going to require in the future.

One of the biggest challenges for employers is identifying what skills they are going to require for changing job roles, job roles that are likely to keep evolving as not just the world of work changes, but the way we live our lives as well.

Employers shouldn’t shoulder all the responsibility for developing a workforce for the future, employees also need to take responsibility for their own development so that there is a broad culture of lifelong learning.

In the Learning and Work "Adult Participation in Learning" survey company executives and learning and development leaders ranked ‘identifying industry trends to prevent internal skills gaps’ as their second priority, with the first priority being to ‘get employees to make time for learning’. We all have a responsibility to make time for learning and to look to the future to identify the skills that we will require.

It’s no surprise that making time for learning is one of the biggestonline training challenges that employer’s face and also why many are now using online learning to help train their workforce. Learning and development teams are depending more and more on online training to deliver planned and ‘just-in-time’ learning at a time convenient to the employee.

In the US, 71% of companies are now using learning technology solutions such as online courses to deliver training and 67% are using external organisations, such as the eLearning Marketplace, to provide their online training.

Planning and delivering training without giving thought to how the training is going to help the business meet its strategic goals and targets for growth is a bit like a dog chasing its tail; you’ll keep going for a while, but you won’t move forwards.

So, if you are going to invest in training to keep and engage your staff, and have a skilled workforce to take your business into the future and meet your growth plans, then make sure that you:

  • Align all training with business objectives;
  • Measure the effectiveness of the training against employee and business objectives;
  • Make training as accessible and engaging as possible to ensure staff have the best chance to complete it:
    • offer mobile responsive courses;
    • use voice overs with text;
    • include a variety of activities;
  • Include knowledge checks throughout or at the end of the course to check understanding;
  • Record and evidence all your training.

Well trained employees will prosper and grow as will their employer’s business. For example, Howdens implemented online learning and reduced staff turnover from 7% to 2.5% and found that staff were 90% more effective more quickly than when they used instructor-led training. Marks and Spencers delivered online customer service training, which saved them £500k, improved customer service by 22% and 95% of the candidates gave positive feedback about the training.

Maintaining staff and customers are the perfect recipe for growth!

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