Is the CIPD 2010 Learning & Talent survey missing a trick?

by | Apr 20, 2010 | Articles

The CIPD launched their ‘Learning and Talent Development 2010 survey this week  – It is great to see that this is the 12th survey giving a massive opportunity to track important trends and developments.

This  year, there were some new flavours for the report – for one the title has changed – shifting from  ‘Learning and Development’ survey to ‘Learning and Talent’ – reflecting the increased appettite for talent management activity gripping the industry . We also see  a new international perspective – important in this global economy. Of course the report highlighted some interesting information but  given that the 2010 survey was changing, trying to reflect the times, it really missed a trick in bringing some  issues to light.

Some of the things that I found particularly interesting were as follows:

On L&D practice generally :

  • The most effective learning and talent development practices are in-house development programmes (56%) and coaching by line managers (51%). Both practices are on the increase since last year.
  • The main changes in organisations’ L&D departments over the last year included the department becoming more business-focused (38%), reducing external suppliers and a move to in-house provision (31%).
  • The proportion of employers undertaking talent management activities has increased from 36% to 59%.  It confirms other studies on the issues of economic pressure  with funds for learning decreasing for over 50% and 20% seeing cuts in staff.

On the use of e-learning

  • Unsurprisingly  we saw that E-learning is the practice that has increased the most this year,  with 62% of organisations saying they use it more than in 2009.
  • Unfortunately , for the first time, CIPD did not  have an overall figure of e-learning usage in this report for the first time. However that did not stop me from asking! The helpful CIPD press office told me that in addition to 62% of participants increasing their e-learning usage, 20% used the same amount and 3% were using less highlighting that 85% of their sample are now using e-learning ( up from 74% last year).
  • In answer to the question ‘Which of the following learning and talent development practices do you believe are the most effective?’- e-learning moved from 7%  last year to 12 % – small shift but something happening!

The glaring ommissions!

CIPD’s own objectives are clear  –  ‘One of the aims of the CIPD Learning and Talent Development survey is to track changes in workplace learning, as well as identify anticipated trends for the next five years.’

Significant findings of other research in the role of L&D and the way that it supports business (including Training Journal’s L&D2020 project   and TM’s own longitudinal benchmarks)  highlight a number of additional  trends that are simply not referenced at all. The most glaring is the transformational use of technology in learning!

Technology in learning – is it just about ‘e-learning’ or is it transforming other L&D practices?

Other studies have shown that new technologies in learning are being used to open up new opportunities for L&D to better support business needs.  However, the word technology appeared once in this study  (large organisations include training technology within  their training budgets apparently!)
Apart from that,the role of technology in learning was not referenced outside the term e-learning at all.

As in previous CIPD surveys the narrow implication that e-learning is only an online self pace, boring course was carefully emphasised. For example both the case studies referencing e-learning were at pains to highligth the negatives of this media – ‘the use of e-learning, even for course preparation, was less useful than the classroom method’.  ‘We had tried to use e-learning as a precondition to attending training but many staff commented that they did not have time to complete or properly consider the package due to pressures of work and so rushed the package at the last minute.’

Of course these are common complaints and objections about general e-learning programmes ( particularly compliance) programmes and I have to completely agree that these rarely meet the mark ( which is why I was amused that this media has increased by 5 points in ‘ the most effective learning media’ question since last year!)  But where are all the other trends and good practices for using media in learning highlighted?

In the last 2 years alone, Towards Maturity site have added  over 50 employer stories  to our site bringing the total up to nearly 100 examples of businesses who are using technology to transform their own in house development programmes (see). This years  CIPD survey shows that in house programmes are on the increase and are deemed to be the most successful L&D practice but you would never guess that technology had anything to do with this. The silence of this report on this issue is deafening!

You might argue that the massive surge in technology tools such as rapid application development tools and virtual classroom for in house use  mean that technology is now so common place that CIPD do not have to highlight it’s role in L&D practices – if that is the case why still single out the e-learning course as a separate item?

Social learning

Lets take another trend that most other research is highlighting at the moment – the  role of continuous informal social learning for staff .  I did  a search on the words informal ,social  and media and found no mention of them in this context and yet their potential for contribution to organisational development as a whole is significant.

The words social and media came up  once in this document but only as sectors in participant profiles – a bit ironic given that the biggest media company we have in the UK is the BBC and they are at the forefront of social media in learning and development!  However the study did highlight that those who thought that internal knowledge sharing activies were one of the most effective practices increased from 14% to 16% over the last year.

That said, this CIPD research does help to identify is the new roles required of L&D moving forward to engage business and manage change. This report clearly states that ‘It will be particularly important for professionals to ensure that their L&TD activities are even more closely aligned with business strategy and to be able to assess the return on investment generated.’  However there is a way to go.

The majority of L&D staff are spend their time  delivering courses or managing learning (46%) and whilst activities linked to change management are increasing only 13% spend any time discussing implementation or building relationship with other management.  Other research programmes have shown that business demands are causing a shift in the skills sets needed by L&D staff – improved liaison with management, change management, designing new types of learning intervention, harnessing technology to harness learning and knowledge are critical moving foward and yet the CIPD survey shows that we are a long way off and whilst it tackles the skills needs of the businesses that L&D serve, it neglects to talk about the skills needs of the profession itself.

What I love about the CIPD ‘s work

What I love about the CIPD research is it’s reputation, reach  and longitudinal comparisons. In addition, the CIPD’s own CPD programmes to support L&D staff increasingly harnessing technology so that L&D professionals are experiencing what it means to be connected by technology to experts, mentors, each other as they build skills – there is no better way of encouraging effective use of learning technologies than by experiencing it for themselves. In many  of their programmes, thanks to creative leadership, this is modelled well.

But…

What I hate about this study in particular is the missed opportunity – it aims to support the profession by highlighting and preparing for all anticipated trends and yet fails to include great swathes of practices that involve technology and are starting to take the profession by storm.  All I can say is watch this space – it is time to fill the gap!

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