E-Learning Market Update (July 2010)

Are learning and development departments earning their keep?The latest UK survey from Capita entitled “Learning to Change” suggests not. It argues there is a worrying lack of alignment between corporate strategy and delivery by learning development departments.

The research undertaken by Capita is the result of independent opinion research among senior decision makers at 100 of the UK’s largest 500 firms by turnover.

Alignment of L&D Departments to Business Strategy

The research revealed that more than half of senior business leaders in the UK describe their L&D function as slow to respond to the changing requirements of their business during economic turbulence. It also showed that the vast majority (82%) of leaders lack confidence that their firm’s L&D strategy and delivery are aligned to the company’s operational strategy.

Capita describe this as an “alarming gap” between business strategy and the learning and development services being delivered to the UK workforce.

We have a different experience of L&D departments in the UK. At Kineo, we have seen a great many departments reviewing their strategies. They have been adopting radical approaches to align with business needs, reduce costs and deliver faster. Developments in areas such as rapid e-learning, blended delivery of programmes, use of webinars and the deployment of low cost platforms such as Moodle LMS are increasingly common. Our experience though is likely to be biased as we deal with companies that are embarked on such strategies.

Skills Obsolescence

What is absolutely clear is the need for effective learning and development. According to the survey, two fifths of business leaders estimate that at least half of employee skills risk becoming obsolete as the economy moves into upturn. There is no question that the pace of change means we can all become obsolete faster than ever before. A key question for all of us is “are my skills, knowledge and experience more valuable now than a year ago?” We need to be investing in learning and development in all its aspects to ensure that we can answer this question positively.

Over two thirds of business leaders identify inadequate staff skills as the greatest threat to their firms’ ability to capitalise on economic recovery. A majority of senior managers also fear that their firm is failing to deliver the necessary training for the recovery. So what's the opportunity here? Learning and development departments need to demonstrate the value they can add to the business and the achievement of its objectives.

We believe that now, more than ever, organisations need an effective L&D function to improve the quality of training, reduce costs, and deliver a flexible and responsive service. This approach will enable organisations to thrive in a rapidly changing business environment.

The report summary can be accessed here. Capita Report Summary.

You can also listen to John Harris of Capita discuss the survey.

By Steve Rayson