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Tracing the Change in L&D Space



Padma Kumar - Chief Operating Officer, IPE Global


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Businesses around the world are quickly adapting to new working environments during the pandemic. Looking at people safety first, many organisations such as ours are moving to an online remote work to ensure business continuity.

The L&D (Revolution)
Learning & Development (L&D) has evolved over the years with its primary focus shifting from building technical expertise within a domain to building leadership capa¬bility and talent engagement within the organization.
The past four decades have seen a paradigm shift in this space.  
The 80s & 90s predominantly focused on the traditional Instructor Led Training (ILT) model complemented with technology in the form of CDROMs, Video Disks, VHS Tapes. Popularly we knew it as Computer Based Training (CBT).  
Come 1998 and ‘e-learning’ became a buzz. Organisations began focusing on creating a more formal and linear online training programme. But this alone was not enough. The pure e-learning concept thus gave way to a more blended and informal learning approach and, the organisations were more open to it. The format would have continued had it not been for the Global Recession around 2001. This forced many to cut down ILT costs and paved the way for modern Learning Management System. 
The corporate learning landscape has undergone a dramatic shift. Today when someone wants to learn - the options are manifold. They can go a class, take online classes, can look up the web, go through a book or consult a subject matter expert among others.
The game changer in this evolution has been the acceptance among organisations to consider L&D as a key function and not just a mere offshoot of the Human Resource department. 
Successful businesses competing in a global economy, with a very diverse workforce, have realized that effective L&D programmes must be strategic, engaging and flexible. They have the potential to guide organizations in learning and development strategies that are aligned with the business strategy; consistent with the culture; engaging and relevant to the workforce.   
As we step into a futuristic world, technology will continue to play a big role in creating a personalized, continuous professional development and workers with strong behavioural skills will be highly sought after. 
Key L&D seismic shifts in the years to come  
• Transition towards an unconventional learning approach which is more micro, mobile-first, innovative and on-demand to meet the varied working patters and growing expectations of the millennials and Generation Z. Thus, moving away from being top down, on-the-job and conventional. 
• More eagerness among the workforce to multi-task with access to increased information. This will push people to opt for specific trainings and add to their existing skill basket so that they can participate in the growing gig economy and, also keep up with their full-time job at the same time.  
• Size & repute of the company may not matter much.  People will queue up for companies focusing on skill building and professional development. They will be more willing to learn, unlearn, relearn…
• Applied knowledge will be power.  People who turn information into transformation through application will gain valuable perspectives unlike the past.
• Learning will be more automated than hands-on. Artificial intelligence will offer data-driven suggestions to improve worker performance or suggest skills. Information will be delivered intelligently and instantly when the learner needs it most.
• People will be recruited, retained and promoted because of their passion to learn
• Learning platforms will be more interactive vs static  
• More focus on self-paced learning considering one size does not fit all
Having said this, according to the 2019 PwC CEO Survey, 79% of CEOs worldwide are concerned that a lack of essential skills in their workforce is threatening the future growth of their organization. And, this concern over skills has risen in line with the advent of new technologies over the past five years.  However, the good news is now more than a third of L&D professionals globally are expecting their budgets to grow; 57% of talent developers plan to spend more on their online learning programs; and 38% expect to spend less on ILT.* Surely, an indicator that focus on Digital and virtual learning programmes will continue to increase more so in the wake of the current global health crisis. 
Businesses around the world are quickly adapting to new working environments during the pandemic. Looking at people safety first, many organisations such as ours are moving to an online remote work to ensure business continuity. But, conducting business-as-usual also means continued focus on employee development because a strategic and tactical L&D programme can facilitate both a digital transformation and limit job losses during the current recession.
* LinkedIn 2020 Workplace Learning Report