CIPD HRD 2013 Review

Last month, the new look City & Guilds team, including Kineo, took part in the CIPD’s annual HRD event in London.

HRD is the event in the CIPD's calendar that focuses specifically on the learning and development aspect of HR. It combines a conference and exhibition and also marks the release of their annual learning and talent development research report.

2013 was the second year that City & Guilds has attended the show, and the first since Kineo joined the group. The show was the perfect platform to showcase a new complete workplace learning offering, and it was interesting to see the differences in the CIPD's research compared to that of our own and what we are seeing in the learning technologies side of the L&D industry.

Learning and Talent Development research findings

This research is now in its fifteenth year, so the CIPD has a solid base for its findings. Interestingly, one of the headlines from this year’s report is that UK businesses are not making the most of elearning. Although three quarters (74%) of organisations say they are currently using elearning, only 15% report that it is one of the most effective learning practices available to them. According to the report, this gap needs to be closed if UK businesses are to keep up with the impact of globalisation and capitalise on the benefits of elearning.

The focus of this year’s event was ‘making an impact on your business through L&D’. This is clearly a positive stance and something the research authors have kept in mind when writing up their results. But these findings do conflict with our own research findings in our 2012 Insights Report.

As we know, not all elearning is created equal. And as we say in our research report ‘Elearning is dead. Long live learning.’ It’s about going beyond the structured, stand alone, self study tutorial. It’s about using technology to support how we really work, such as creating informal learning resources or providing access to content across multiple devices. Much of the legacy off-the-shelf content that organisations have been using is still not particularly learner friendly and might have affected these results. However, the good news is there were many positive elearning stories coming out of the conference and the free seminar programme at the event.

Conference & Exhibition highlights

There were case studies about nurturing innovation and creativity at the likes of Google (as you would expect). Colt Technologies has devised a truly blended programme using in-house authored elearning, virtual training labs, videos and podcasting for approximately 5,000 staff across 23 countries.

Jerry Arnott of Civil Service Learning, gave some fascinating insights into their transformation project. It was great to note from his presentation that the CSL portal (which Kineo manages and supports, in collaboration with Capita and CSL) is now the largest LMS in the UK with over 380,000 registered users – hats off to the CSL team for that achievement.

And Jane Daly from Marks & Spencer joined our very own Stephen Walsh to talk to a packed theatre about how elearning has transformed their customer experience training. M&S shared how critical learning technologies are to their mission, and the great results from the M&S Café e-learning project.

On our stand we received a lot of enquiries about how elearning can help organisations achieve their L&D goals and really make an impact. In particular, visitors were interested in understanding more about introducing technology to support apprenticeship and accreditation programmes.

Learning technology at the top table

This reflects an appetite for understanding how technology can enhance and enable more effective L&D solutions. But of over 100 exhibitors at the event, there are many learning technology vendors that did not appear at HRD.

The split of services we saw on offer is far more diverse, from instructor-led training to drumming workshops. Which is understandable, given that visitors to HRD are often from a much broader background than many of the people we meet at the Learning Technologies event, for example.

But many of them have a high level responsibility for budgets and strategy, and we believe it’s critical to take the message all the way to the top of organisations that technology can support organisations at the highest level.

The market shouldn’t just be about preaching to the converted. And we are committed to spreading the word that a blended learning approach incorporating technology needn’t be intimidating. In fact, it can help achieve the positive impact on a business that so many of these HR directors are looking for.

Spotlight shifting its focus to learning

Interestingly, the CIPD is changing the name of the event next year to the ‘Learning and Development Show’ which seems to signify a focus on learning in its own right, rather than just another strand of HR. With a renewed spotlight on learning and lessons taken from some of the great case studies featured at this event, hopefully by the time April 2014 rolls around the research results will reflect the impact we know elearning can have on organisations in all its glory.


How are you spreading the message in your business that technology can support learning across all levels? – let us know in our Elearning Professionals group on LinkedIn.

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