Webinar: Perspectives on the future of UK L&D
A quarter of employees feel that workplace training is a tick-box exercise compared to just 2% of practitioners. The disconnect between employer and employee perceptions on L&D opportunities is one of the key themes highlighted by the findings of Digits’ report and webinar
Is this disconnect between L&D teams, line managers and employees caused by a lack of learning culture, or poor communication? Or are the learning opportunities offered by employees simply not relevant?
These questions – and the challenging environment faced by UK L&D teams – were the topic of analysis and debate in a recent Digits webinar hosted by Andrea Matkin, head of LMS sales, and Bradley Burgoyne, head of talent, which assessed the findings of two recent reports by Digits. Read on for a summary of the standout findings, view the webinar on demand to discover them in more depth.
What are the challenges facing UK L&D teams?
The UK labour market is facing an unprecedented increase in hard-to-fill vacancies. The CIPD Labour Market Outlook (Autumn 2021) reported an increase in the proportion of employers with hard-to-fill vacancies. Climbing from 39% to 47% in the respective quarter, recruitment and retention difficulties are on the rise.
With a staggering 28% of workers planning to look for a new job in 2022, and a further 32% undecided on whether they’ll remain in their current role, more than half of potential candidates could move on to pastures new before the year is over.
This poses the ultimate question: how can employers respond to the current hiring crisis in a mutually beneficial way? One way to retain workers more effectively – while ensuring that your organisation has the right mix of skills – is to focus on your L&D provision.
What learning opportunities are being offered?
Broadly split into ‘mandatory’ and ‘non-mandatory’ categories within the context of this report, there was a distinct contrast between the frequency of routine, often compliance-based, compulsory training versus voluntary learning opportunities.
Briefly comparing opportunities across these two categories:
- Over half (55%) of organisations require mandatory training on an annual basis, while 13% don’t require any form of mandatory training throughout the employee lifecycle
- Non-mandatory training, however, is offered every six months by 42% of representative organisations, annually by 27% of employers, and ‘never’ by 32% of polled workplaces
What do employees think of L&D opportunities?
Practitioners think organisations are doing a good job – and most employees agree:
- A small majority – 51% of workers – feel their employer prioritises their training and development needs
- Nearly four in 10 participants had a neutral outlook on their L&D opportunities, while 11% have a poor outlook on their professional development opportunities in their workplace
How do people want to learn?
The statistics highlighted in the webinar and report illustrate the disconnect between practitioner and employee perceptions of L&D opportunities:
- Just under 30% of organisations ordinarily deliver live online training sessions, with nearly 20% of employees opting for this style
- Sessions led by in-house trainers were the learning method of choice for 28% of employers and preferred by one in five workers
- Just over a quarter of businesses opted for sessions led by external trainers or consultants, with one fifth of employees choosing this as their preferred training and development method
- On-demand videos and self-guided learning are preferred learning methods of a combined 40% of employers, with only 13% and 12% of employees, respectively, self-selecting these methods
- Just 15% of employers, and 13% of employees, said they wanted to do more virtual reality training
For more in-depth analysis of learning preferences, download the report.
Balancing budgets and employee workloads
Allocating a sufficient proportion of the organisational budget is cited as one of the biggest challenges facing L&D departments. Well over a third of practitioners confirmed they were aware of a specific budget for employee L&D but were unsure of the details of the financial allocation.
One quarter of practitioners do not have any budget allocation for L&D, with 7% of employers unsure of whether there was an L&D budget or not.
Looking at the time allocated for on-the-job learning, the consensus is that training time is not sufficiently prioritised. Only two-thirds of workers feel they are given adequate time during their workday to complete training activities. The proportion of employees expected to undertake training outside of working hours is biased towards part-time employees (15% compared to 12% of full-time workers) which leads us to question how much emphasis organisations are placing on creating a learning culture.
Burgoyne also highlighted that “part-time employees are less likely to receive management training than their full-time counterparts.
“When we look at the data around part-time employees, a disproportionate amount of those are female colleagues. That could be feeding into the inconsistency between female workers receiving the same management training as their male counterparts.”
Burgoyne warned L&D teams not to focus too much on immediate training needs at the expense of ensuring their people have the skills and knowledge needed for future success. “The majority of employees (almost three-quarters) say that they’ve been trained sufficiently for their role, which – on the surface – is good news,” he said. “But if we pair that with the lack of focus on upskilling, we could infer that organisations are focused on training their people for the ‘here and now,’ and not necessarily looking far enough ahead to prepare them for the future. [This] will have consequences both for the employee and the organisation if those skill gaps aren’t identified and filled.”
How can employers respond?
The CIPD Labour Market Outlook report findings illustrated that nearly a quarter (23%) of organisations would raise wages as a response to solve the problem of hard-to-fill vacancies. But upskilling and developing existing workers is a more sustainable – and cheaper – long-term solution.
Establishing a learning culture won’t happen overnight; it needs deliberate planning, and an investment of time and money in both communications, and specialist learning management systems, to really embed learning in an organisation.
“An LMS isn’t a magic wand,” said Matkin. “You can’t just launch one and expect a learning culture to develop overnight. When you introduce a new system, like an LMS, you have to put in all the stuff that wraps around it – engage employees with it, and get them excited about learning.”
She added: “Technology gives L&D a home; a base from which employers can deliver cultural change. Comparable to the ‘chicken-or-egg’ analogy, organisations cannot expect their technology to act as the all-encompassing solution. Technology complements a shift towards learning culture, and a learning culture is more readily cultivated when the right technology exists to grow with the evolving needs of the business.”