Only one in three (29%) organisations claim to have clear learning and development (L&D) plans for their employees, according to a new report, Learning and Skills at Work 2020, from the CIPD and Accenture. 

Based on a survey of more than 1,200 employers, one in five organisations (21%) do not use any technology to support learning activities and many continue to rely on classroom-based training. The report calls for organisations to harness digital learning methods, while fostering a culture of supportive learning, particularly at a time when skills development is being exacerbated by the pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The report suggests that use of technology to support learning has increased in importance, but barriers to virtual learning experiences and strategic L&D still persist: 

  • Learning technologies are now used by 79% of employers, with leaders showing signs of growth in digital learning. Yet, the adoption of emerging technologies is sluggish: augmented reality (2%), virtual reality (4%), mobile applications (12%) are only used by a minority of organisations. The report shows that where these methods are being used, they are highly effective and growing rapidly in use. 
  • Many employers lack the roles and skills needed to deliver digital learning. In-house L&D roles are still dominated by face-to-face trainers. Digital asset creators or curator researchers are rare, appearing in fewer than one in ten organisations. 
  • The research also suggests a link between learning and productivity. Of businesses with above-average productivity, 84% said their learning strategy is linked to business needs, compared to just 43% of companies with below-average productivity. Similarly, 41% of high productivity firms have increased their investment in learning technologies compared to 22% of firms with below average productivity. 
  • Lack of learning time (41%), limited budgets (40%) and lack of management time or support (29%) top the list of barriers to the delivery of learning. 

Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, said: 

"Learning has never been more important for business, the UK and working lives – we needed it before COVID-19 and we need it even more now. Yet this report highlights the gap between companies who know this, following through with strategic investment, professional practice, new technologies and time to learn – versus those who know the importance, but allow it to be the first thing cut from the budget. Within the report, there are some incredibly innovative examples of learning, which are developing new skills, behaviours and performance – at times like these we need these examples to be more commonplace."

Andy Young, Managing Director, Talent & Organization at Accenture said: 

"Technology was already disrupting the world of work, and now with most of the workforce going virtual, the pandemic is accelerating the need to harness human and digital skills. While digital learning is commonplace in our personal lives, our report shows that many UK organisations have not invested in this as a competitive advantage, risking significant skills gaps. With new solutions such as virtual and augmented reality that simulate difficult situations, gaming technology, and films to encourage decision making and new behaviours, employers can revolutionise their training plans at a time when their people need it the most. The good news is that some leading UK organisations are getting learning right and seeing productivity gains as a result."

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