While it’s well-known that working from home has increased over the past year, it seems learning from home has also risen significantly.
According to the latest Learning and Skills at Work report from the CIPD and Accenture, seven in ten organisations reported an increase in the use of digital or online solutions over the last year.
However, organisations have largely been managing this increase without a corresponding rise in their learning and development budgets. Only 11% of the 1,200 professionals surveyed reported a rise in their budget over the last 12 months, while 58% reported their budget had remained the same.
About one third of organisations had had to contend with a reduction in budgets, with learning budgets cut most significantly in those industries that have been more impacted by the pandemic. In some cases, budget cuts had led to reductions in L&D headcounts and the use of external consultants.
“While many learning professionals have had to do more with less in the last year, it was also a time to challenge assumptions and embrace new ways of doing things. It’s clear there is no going back – the pandemic has likely changed for good the face of learning and skills development in organisations,” said Lizzie Crowley, senior adviser at the CIPD and author of the report.
Despite the funding constraints, the majority of businesses surveyed said the switch to a digital model had been positive. Some 77% of organisations said they were successfully using learning technology and 69% reported they were innovating in their use of learning technology.
One specific area of focus reported was the use of technology to help identify and deal with skills gaps in organisations.
Since the previous year, a greater number of respondents said they had assessed the impact of automation and how to redeploy employees affected (51%), as well as how roles are changing and how to reskill workers to meet these changes (64%).
The majority of organisations had become more confident about their ability to address skills gaps, with 72% of respondents saying they were able to effectively tackle skills gaps.
However, Ian Rawlings, Regional VP EMEA at software company SumTotal, said it was important employers took a tailored approach: “As Covid-19 accelerates changes to the world of work, it’s great to see that organisations are utilising this momentum to drive their reskilling efforts to future-proof their business and employees.
“It is important to remember, however, that skills development is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach, and adherence to a single learning style may restrict employee agility – negatively impacting on talent development. Not only will offering just one learning style limit creativity and flexibility, reducing employees’ capability of adapting to changing business needs, but it may lead to employees failing to realise their full potential.”
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