An estimated 74 percent of organizations expect to spend the same amount or more on educational efforts by the end of 2018, according to research from Training Magazine. However, training and development teams are not using these funds the same way they did one year ago. The average corporate employee training budget surpassed $6 million last year.
Addressing new business challenges
Analysts for LinkedIn connected with more than 4,000 executives, managers, training and development stakeholders and everyday workers to understand the state of the workplace instructional environment and learn about the key roadblocks that businesses are attempting to address via internal learning programs. Five common, mission-critical challenges seemed to distinguish themselves within the research:
- Finding time to deploy effective training.
- Grappling with the continued rise of automation.
- Managing internal digital transformation.
- Empowering managers to take part in the development of direct reports.
- Achieving a balance between stability and growth.
Automation topped many respondents’ lists – and for good reason. Earlier this month, analysts for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, an association of 35 developed nations, reported that 14 percent of jobs, or 66 million positions, are “highly automateable.” With this in mind, businesses are attempting to use training to blunt the impact of automation, empowering technical specialists to move up the ranks and assume managerial roles. Many are rolling out instructional programs focusing on soft skill development, according to LinkedIn. Among the most important competencies covered in these courses are collaboration, communication and leadership.
Balancing stability and growth is another key goal for training and development leaders, the social media company found. Existing operational needs require enterprises to focus on equipping workers with the skills they need to find success now. However, an ever-changing marketplace has many executives worried about the future, specifically skills gaps. Numerous industries are beginning to confront this issue as skilled contributors age out of the workforce, leaving behind difficult-to-fill positions, according to the American Staffing Association. For example, an estimated 94 percent of information technology firms are experiencing issues directly related to seemingly unfillable openings for application integration, cloud infrastructure, data security and emerging technology specialists, analysts for the Computing Technology Industry Association found. Consequently, talent and development leaders have gone to work creating internal programs to identify potential skills gaps and predict marketplace disruptors capable of creating recruiting turmoil.
Additionally, traditional instructional tools are on the decline with the forward march of digital technology. Approximately, 58 percent favor digital instructional hardware and software that allows them to learn at their own respective paces. For this reason, nearly 90 percent of organizations now offer online training. However, most are still exploring this format and the ancillary variables that make it successful, most notably, performance measurement.
In addition to developing and deploying training that addresses current concerns and works for digital-first online learners, employee training stakeholders are focusing on logistical and organizational issues tied to talent development success. Finding time for learning is one. Almost 70 percent of workers prefer to train while at work, according to LinkedIn. However, this strategy, even with mobile devices involved, can eat into production. Also, employees at all levels are requesting more direct involvement from managers. This is another difficult request as these floor leaders have numerous responsibilities that make it difficult for them to sit in on instructional sessions, no matter how they are delivered. Training teams are attempting to address these concerns this year by looking into more scalable teaching platforms and incentivizing manager involvement.
Grappling with a lack of training
Employee training programs facilitate safe and productive workplaces and promote organizational health. Unfortunately, a significant number of firms do not follow through with such efforts, sending their workers out into their respective operations with little guidance, according to a recent study from the market research firm Ipsos, and Axonify, a microlearning platform marker. The companies surveyed almost 1,100 full-time and part-time workers and found that 31 percent had not received workplace training in the past year. Even worse, this issue seemed to disproportionately affect women and individuals earning less then $50,000 per year. The National Center on the Educational Quality of the Workforce found that for every 10 percent increase an organizational educational attainment, an 8.6 percent increase in productivity follows.
Preparing for the future
It is clear the modern businesses are actively trying to address the numerous challenges that come along with offering effective training programs, from implementing new instructional methods meant to meet the needs of technology-savvy workers to starting from the ground up with initial training efforts. This involves increasing investments in digital learning technologies with strong analytics engines, and working with human resources to map out upskilling pathways and promotional tracks, and now. Millennials will constitute three-quarters of the U.S. workforce by 2025, meaning enterprises have no time to lose when it comes retrofitting their current training programs.
In addition to accommodating a new generation of young workers, training and development teams should look into bleeding-edge technology with the power to transform workplace instruction. Virtual reality is one of those rising innovations. Firms in a variety of industries are investing in the technology, analysts for PricewaterhouseCoopers found. However, the applications in development are not all related to production activities – many adopters are leveraging VR to prepare employees for work out on the floor, BizTech reported. Logistics giant UPS embraced the technology last year, rolling out a VR-centered training platform for delivery drivers, according to a company press release. Walmart did the same. This past May, the brick-and-mortar powerhouse adopted a VR simulator training model that helps associates learn how to navigate the sales floor during Black Friday.