Companies trim training budgets, but still rely on outdated methods
Britain's employers rely on outdated methods and techniques to provide training to their staff and many have cut back on training and talent management activities in the current climate, according to a new survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.
The CIPD/Cornerstone OnDemand Learning and Talent Development Survey 2012 found that training budgets had been cut substantially since last year, with the average spent on each employee down from £350 to £276. Hours of training delivered were also cut. Also taking a significant hit were talent management activities which were reduced since last year. Although two-fifths of organisations who do offer talent management activities include all or most employees, most focus on high-potential employees and senior managers.
The report found traditional methods of workplace learning are considered amongst the least effective ways to upskill employees - but still dominate many L&D programmes. When asked to choose the most effective ways of delivering training, just 16 per cent of learning and talent development professionals opted for "formal education courses", and the same number for "coaching by external practitioners". Only 11 per cent pointed to "e-learning", although public sector organisations are more likely to say they will be investing in it in the future. Yet despite doubts about its effectiveness, less than a fifth (17 per cent) of the report's respondents plan to reduce their reliance on "classroom and trainer-led instruction" over the next two years.
When asked what methods are most likely to work, most learning and development professionals pointed towards training that is integrated into the normal course of their jobs. Half of respondents (52 per cent) said that "in-house development programmes" were amongst the most effective ways of delivering training, while almost as many (46 per cent) cited "coaching by line managers". Two-fifths (39 per cent) pointed towards "on-the-job training".
Dr John McGurk, Learning and Talent Development Adviser at CIPD, said: "Many of the learning approaches used by organisations are legacies of a learning environment where the classroom, courses and 'sheep-dip' learning were the order of the day. However, in today's environment the skills of continuous collaborative and connective learning are paramount. Even compliance learning and advanced skills learning needs to be re-thought with the advent of gaming and simulation. We need to take into account how generations learn and share knowledge and we need to understand anew the process of learning and knowledge. We need to lift our awareness of the emerging science on learning and in some cases we need to slaughter some of the sacred cows which have informed practice. Quick evaluation will become even more critical in this environment as will a fusion of coaching, leadership and change management. L&TD professionals need to lead the debate, and need to take a different perspective calling on their own resourcefulness and creativity to push learning in new directions."
Vincent Belliveau, General Manager EMEA, Cornerstone OnDemand, added: "When it comes to investing in L&D, it's critical that organisations understand their people and the learning approaches that suit them best to meet their needs. By doing so, they'll get the best return on investment as employees will be more engaged in the learning and transfer the skills into their day-to-day activities, which will ultimately support the business and its bottom line.
"It's vital that organisations don't take a 'training for trainings sake' attitude, but instead adopt approaches which are known to be effective ways of delivering training. It's also important that this investment can be measured, so that they can align training with business objectives. The effects of a well thought-out learning strategy can be widely felt throughout an organisation, with employee engagement, job satisfaction and retention benefiting."