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Why we need to upgrade learning now

How much do you as a learning lead invest in development? Getting better? To capture needs and deliver faster, adapt the way of learning to changing needs, ensure better effect of learning activities, do more at a lower cost and in less time?

Maybe not so much? Maybe you have additional courses to develop and deliver at the same time as the organisation is saving costs. There are simply no resources for the development of L&D itself.

Then I’ll give you some reasons the need to upgrade learning is more critical than ever:

  • The current lack of key skills will only get worse.
  • Coming generations have greater demands on learning and development than before.
  • The old way of training is is not working. We have all changed the way we learn in recent years.

An accelerating lack of key skills

The lack of key competencies is getting worse. According to a report from PwC, 63% of world leaders experience a lack of key skills as a threat to the growth of the company. As recently as 2009, the figure was 46%. According to Bersin by Deloitte’s “Predictions for 2015“, a lack of key competences is the major problem for HR and L&D departments around the world.

A lack of key skills is the number one need to upgrade learning

Why is it like this?

One big reason is that the lifespan of skills is halving faster and faster. According to a British report, half of today’s occupations will be gone in 10 years. Another study (“Built to change“) shows that 70% percent of the 90’s “Fortune 1000” companies wasn’t on the list 10 years later. The pace is constantly increasing.

The background is a technological revolution that is accelerating ever faster. More and more products are controlled by software, become “intelligent” and more and more products become connected (“internet of things”). Together, it provides opportunities to adapt products more customers. Products become solutions and services. At the same time, working methods and roles must be adapted to cope with greater flexibility and higher speed.

The “war of talent” has gained much focus within HR with focus on “employer branding” and “talent management”, to attract and develop the most high-performing talents. Now organizations realize that it is not enough to rely on the few high-performing talents. Every employee in the organization needs to continuously develop new skills. This needs to happen quickly. The organization’s ability to learn will be central to survival.

What does this mean? Well, we need to spend more time keeping up and learning new things. It will not only be enough to only recruit new skills. Try e.g. to find IT specialists in “cloud technology”, it is not possible! Companies in rapidly changing industries have already embraced this. IBM, which has been forced to redefine its offering several times, has now introduced “Think Fridays”, where half the day is spent on development and learning. CEO Gina Rometty, herself, gives virtual classes to employees.

New generations put higher demands on Learning & Development


L&D in itself is important for attracting new generations of employees. A report from PwC (“Millennials at work“) ranks the opportunity for training and career as the most important factor in choosing an organization. In the same report, “Training & Development” is ranked as the most important bonus an employer can give, before flexible working hours and more pay.

Other things to consider for “Millenials” and development are:

  • Accustomed to working and learning with technology. 75% believe that access to technology is a necessity for efficient work.
  • Used to “meet” virtually. 41% prefer this before meeting face to face.
  • Used to getting answers immediately, a click away on their mobile phones.
  • Accustomed to collaborating and sharing knowledge on social networks.

The question is whether today’s learning opportunities in larger organizations meets these requirements. My experience is that learning still takes place via courses, to 90% in classrooms. In 5 years, 2020, the generation “Millenials” will amount to 45% of the workforce

Learning preferences has changed in recent years

Our learning preferences has changed in recent years. Studies show that our ability to remember facts has diminished with the increasing use of Google. We have placed our long-term memory outside of ourselves. A report from “Bersin by Deloitte” shows some interesting facts:

  • We are overwhelmed with information, meetings and get disturbed every 5 minutes (email, social media). 2/3 say they do not have time for their job. As a result, 3 minutes of a typical week can be spent on learning.
  • We are impatient. The time we spend learning is getting shorter. Today, a student spends an average of 4 minutes on a video.
  • 80% of learning takes place at work through contacts with colleagues. At Google, 55% of all course material (mostly videos) is produced by the employees themselves.
  • More and more people are using their own time and money to learn new skills. 62% of employees in the IT sector have paid for training out of their own pocket.

I would say that the way we learn “at home” is increasingly different from the opportunities that exist to learn at work. It is time that we get the same opportunities to learn at work and that means big changes for the organizations where learning is still a course catalog with 2-3 days of training in classrooms.

Together, this shows that we need to develop the learning of the future now! To meet new generations of “students”, a world that is changing faster and faster and where learning is increasingly taking place in new ways. WHAT needs to be done I will tell more about in an upcoming blog.

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