Learning needs to be linked to overall business strategies says the CIPD

Learning needs to be linked to overall business strategies says the CIPDThe CIPD has warned that Learning and Development (L&D) professionals need to link learning more directly to their organisation’s business strategies. This follows the results of its annual L&D survey which found that by limiting their focus to learner and manager feedback, just 7 per cent of L&D professionals evaluate the impact of their initiatives on the business. This lack of evaluation can contribute to skills gaps being undetected, particularly in the use of new learning technologies such as Gamification. The CIPD is urging L&D professionals to look beyond trainee satisfaction and measure initiatives in terms of how they add value to the organisation and society in general. This latest research follows the publication of a report by Skillsoft last week which revealed that 55 per cent of employers admitted they were more likely to recruit externally to address skills shortages.

Ruth Stuart, L&D Research Adviser at the CIPD, said: “It’s difficult to predict the ways in which L&D will evolve over the next few years, but there are a number of key tools we have which can help shape the future, and evaluation is one of them. It allows organisations to understand which L&D initiatives are working and which aren’t, so they can tailor activities accordingly and engineer people development to add the most value to individuals and the overall business.”

The annual L&D Survey from the CIPD found that 1 in 3 organisations (37 per cent) only measure the satisfaction of those that take part in L&D initiatives, rather than their wider impact on the business. According to 45 per cent of respondents, the most common barrier to evaluating L&D is ‘other business priorities’, but barriers within L&D and HR itself, such as the quality of analytical data (32 per cent), and crucially the capability of L&D and HR to conduct evaluation (25 per cent), were also voted as common obstacles.

However, the survey did predict that over the next two years L&D will forge a closer alignment with the business strategy (40 per cent) and greater emphasis on monitoring and evaluation (35 per cent).

The survey identified some of the skills gaps already existing in L&D departments, such as in analytical and technological capabilities. Despite the fact that three quarters of organisations use learning technologies in their L&D initiatives, and 57 per cent of respondents expect developments in mobile learning technologies to have the greatest impact on the L&D profession over the next five years, the survey found that many lack confidence in their ability to use them.

Less than a quarter of respondents (24 per cent) feel ‘extremely’ or ‘very’ confident in their ability to harness technology to increase the effectiveness of their L&D interventions. When asked how confidence might be increased, several called for ‘simple terminology’, ‘bite-sized introductions to what is currently available’ and ‘more basic courses, guides or articles’.

However, not all technologies are being embraced, and organisations are equally split on whether their use of MOOCs (massive open online courses) and gamified learning will increase or decrease over the next two years.

Stuart continues: “Although face-to-face delivery methods will continue to play an important role in L&D, learning technologies are on the rise and organisations are investing much more in them as a resource. And it’s obvious why – technological initiatives can play a critical role in enabling flexibility and helping to advance a learning culture through facilitating knowledge sharing and social learning.

Ruth Stuart will be discussing the key findings of the L&D survey at the CIPD’s annual L&D Show, 13 – 14 May 2015 at London Olympia.