Global Learning: Sharing Opportunities and Challenges

by | Oct 1, 2015 | Articles

Do L&D leaders around the globe share the same goals and aspirations about modernising workplace learning? Do the challenges we face differ as we move across geographies? Or do we have more in common than we think?

I’m reflecting on some of these issues right now on a transatlantic flight on route to DevLearn in Las Vegas. It’s the start of a busy schedule for the Towards Maturity team, as we kick-start a tour across 5 continents over the next 10 weeks.

Common L&D questions around the globe 

As I look at the conference agendas that we are contributing to, it’s strikes me that there are some common questions being asked around the globe:

  • How can L&D add value in a rapidly changing global economy?
  • To what extent do we need to rethink our learning models to support today’s business leaders and learners?
  • How do we harness technology more effectively? How do we keep up?
  • What skills do L&D professionals need to develop?
  • What will L&D look like in the future?

These are exactly the questions that we’ve been exploring through the Towards Maturity Benchmark study since 2003. This year, 600 L&D leaders from 55 countries have been involved: 42% of them support learning in multinational organisations with staff spread around the globe, 61% are based in the UK, 10% in central Europe, 10% from APAC and 5% each from the USA/Canada and the Middle East and India.

At first glance, this year’s findings show that L&D leaders are expecting great things from their modernised learning strategy, wherever they are based (which is good news for those conference organisers!).

Agility, Workflow and Costs

Early findings show that we’ve seen that 93% of L&D leaders in our programme are looking to new models and technologies to provide a faster response to changing business conditions. This ability to respond with speed is a slightly higher priority in the USA and Canada (98%) when compared to Australia (88%), but overall, the need for more agility strikes a chord with most L&D leaders.

The Australian community also appears to be the most interested in introducing learning into the workflow (91% vs an average of 80%), but this seems to be less of a priority for mainland European countries (73%). Reducing training costs is a high priority important for 87% of this year’s sample overall, but less of a priority for central European countries (77%) and a bigger issue for L&D leaders in the Middle East and India (93%).

It appears that L&D leaders have common expectations, with some regional differences when it comes to the outcomes of a technology-enabled, modernised learning strategy. But what of the challenges – is each region unique in the problems that they have to overcome, in order to achieve their goals?

L&D Skills, Stakeholder Buy-In and Tech Usage

At first glance, Europe (mainland and UK) seems to be most challenged by the lack of skills in L&D teams for embracing technology to its full advantage; a problem reported by over 50% of participants in both areas. However, this is less of an issue for L&D leaders in the USA and Canada, where only 34% report that lack of L&D skills are holding them back.

Lack of management buy-in appears to be one of the biggest challenges for nearly 70% of Australian L&D leaders, but this is only reported by 40% of their peers in mainland Europe. The Middle East and Indian L&D leaders are twice as likely to report that their classroom training staff are reluctant to engage with technology compared with their US counterparts (40% vs 18%).

We’ll be digging deeper into regional differences in our 2015 Towards Maturity Benchmark Report and more importantly, uncovering what we can learn from each other to accelerate the achievement of our common goals. The full report is due to be released on the 5th of November, but at this point, it would appear that there are more commonalities around the globe than differences. Instead of focusing on the challenges of a adapting to a fast-paced global economy, L&D leaders would do well to take advantage of the fact that we are all in the same or similar boats, with a lot to learn from each other.

Progress will come when we become more open to learn from each other’s successes and failures. We are held back when we believe our organisation, sector, region, country is unique – as we box ourselves in, we hinder innovation and breakthrough.

As part of our travels, we hope to consolidate many ideas from around the globe in order to help L&D leaders innovate and bring change with confidence – after all, good learning begins with a dialogue about how to achieve common goals.

If you are at any of these conferences, connect on LinkedIn and let us know. If you’re not clocking up the air miles, why not start the dialogue with your colleagues by commenting on LinkedIn?

  • What are you looking to achieve through L&D over the coming year?
  • What’s holding you back?
  • What would you love to know from those who’ve already been there?

Come and say hello if you are at any of these events over the coming weeks, we’d love to meet you:

Make sure you join us for the online launch of the 2015 Towards Maturity Benchmark Report!

Register for the Webinar


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