Learning trends revealed

The adoption of mobile and social learning in UK organisations is falling behind expectations according to the results of the fifth UK Learning Trends Index. 300 respondents recently completed the survey conducted by GoodPractice in conjunction with Reed Learning and INL Consultancy. The aim of the research is to highlight key industry issues and provide insights into the learning agenda within UK organisations.

In theory, these new ways of working and learning should now be commonplace. 60% of respondents report an increased reliance on informal learning, 54% predict a growth in their use of social media and 70% highlight the importance of learning technologies, including mobile solutions. But the research reveals a significant gap between what organisations want and what is actually happening.

Only 24% of respondents actually have an agreed strategy for informal learning. And only 21% have trialled any kind of mobile learning initiative. However, despite these results, up to 60% confirm a planned increase in spend in these areas in the future. Nigel Paine, Strategic Advisor on Learning and Talent, comments, ‘This report confirms a lot of assumptions; the desire to move to mobile, the need for a strategy for informal learning and the impetus around employee engagement. But this confirmation is actually dynamite. It gives a locus and a context for all those involved in L&D and the senior executives that support it.’

Recent research conducted by GoodPractice also points to the importance of continuing to invest in informal learning, but from a managerial (rather than a senior L&D) perspective. The Learning Habits of Leaders and Managers research report revealed that when they are faced with a new or difficult challenge at work, leaders and managers demonstrate a strong preference for informal learning and social support.

Peter Casebow, CEO of GoodPractice, points to the importance of strategy when trying to implement these new ways of working and learning. ‘Some would say you can’t control or plan for something like informal learning, but you can put a strategy in place. Based on our experience, any strategy for informal learning needs to include three basic areas: improving basic skills, such as searching for information effectively, creating opportunities and encouraging sharing and collaboration.’

The Learning Trends research also shows that improving employee engagement has become the number one driver for learning and development departments. And while leadership development remains the most critical task on the learning professional’s agenda, the focus is broadening. Areas including talent management, employee retention and performance management have all increased in importance.

Casebow continues, ‘As the UK’s predicted economic recovery continues to falter, the pressure placed upon L&D to design and deliver learning initiatives which will boost organisational performance across a range of key areas has undoubtedly grown. We look forward to seeing the impact of this more business related focus in future Learning Trends results.’

A full copy of the report can be downloaded from here.

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