The 3 Needs of Corporate Learning, Part 3: L&D Team Needs

In the lead up to the launch of the 2015 Towards Maturity Benchmark Report on 5th November, we’ll be exploring three areas of need for corporate learning that have emerged from the data we’ve analysed this year. They are the needs of the business, its learners and its L&D leaders.

In our final installment, we take a look at what L&D practitioners need from the learning and development function in 2015 and beyond.

The Changing Needs of L&D

It’s 2015. Who in L&D could doubt that the needs of business have changed dramatically in recent years? Technology has fuelled new ways of accessing, creating and sharing knowledge and information and it is having a dramatic effect on how business operates. Uber anyone?

We are all consumers of content outside of work but is the way we consume content inside the business vastly different from the way we did five or 10 years ago? It’s a good question to ask because old habits die hard. That can be seen in learning where classroom training is still the default in many organisations we still see that only a quarter of formal learning is e-enabled by technology.

What L&D is Doing Differently

In the build up to the publication to the 2015 Towards Maturity Industry Benchmark Report, we released some early findings from the research. These findings provide a picture of how L&D perceives change and how it is responding to it.

L&D leaders have high expectations for their learning strategy, with more than 90% wanting:

  • More flexibility and access to learning
  • To improve induction processes
  • To improve application of learning in the workplace
  • To increase sharing of good practice
  • To improve effectiveness of face to face training

But the reality, is that relatively little L&D budget (just 19%) is allocated to technology — the vehicle that will deliver on most of these aspirations. E-learning courses and live online learning platforms remain the tools of choice for many.

L&D: Evolving roles, Enhancing Skills revealed that more than 50% of organisations surveyed said they are not planning on developing skills for instructional design, content development, technology, performance consulting and data analytics. Furthermore, despite 9 out of 10 L&D professionals looking to improve performance, productivity and sharing of good practice, only 53% agree that there are more options than ‘the course’ for building skills and performance. The organisations that are turning their ambitions into a reality, are the ones that apply business thinking to their learning strategy.

Top Deck organisations in the benchmark analyse the business problem before recommending a solution (84%, versus the average of 56%) and 94% agree that their strategy for learning allows for changing business priorities (59% average). 77% also invest in their teams, providing them with opportunities to develop their skills (54% average).

L&D Reality Check

The benefit of running a longitudinal study, is that over time, patterns and trends emerged, of which there are two identified in this article.

Firstly, most L&D practitioners are failing to deliver on their ambitions. There are expectations that technology-enabled learning will help achieve the goals, but so far only 29% agree that technology-enabled learning has resulted in improvements in productivity that they seek.

Secondly, we see that the Top Deck organisations are turning ambition into reality. They align with the business, invest more in technology and develop the necessary skills for their team.

On top of these two trends, we find the top five barriers to developing a successful learning strategy stubbornly remain the same:

1. Cost (reported by 63%)
2. Lack of employee skills to manage their own learning (63%)
3. Unreliable IT / infrastructure (60%)
4. Lack of L&D skills to implement interventions (56%)
5. Reluctance to engage from line managers (55%)

That in itself tells the story of what L&D needs to act on to create successful learning strategies.

Towards Maturity will be launching the 2015 Towards Maturity Benchmark Report on 5th November, during a free webinar in conjunction with the Learning & Skills Group. If you are responsible for driving L&D or business performance, register for this free event today.

Also in this series:

Originally published at on October 27, 2015.