Learning trends in India: Skilling, digital learning, and the future
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As businesses and organizations look towards the future with optimism, hoping for normalcy to return soon, there is no denying that the very definitions of work and workplace have changed. With processes and workflows going remote, one of the most significant shifts has occurred in the learning sphere.
In this context, ‘Learning Trends in India’ is a report by People Matters and Skillsoft that attempts to understand the shifting priorities in workplace learning, the evolving role of the L&D function, the importance of informal learning, and the different modes of learning. With insights and responses from over 120 organizations, ‘Learning Trends in India’ serves as a gateway to understanding the complex and ever-changing landscape of skilling in India. Discussed below are highlights from the same:
Future-focused skills and capabilities are the top priority
Even though businesses have predominantly been focusing on business continuity, eight in ten L&D leaders state that their primary focus is on building future skills and capabilities over the next 12 to 18 months. By heavily reorganizing organizational priorities and workforce strategies, leaders are mapping the skills required to thrive in a changing world.
Naturally, ascertaining the RoI of learning investments and engaging employees also rank high on the priority list. This is because some of the key challenges facing the L&D function today are demonstrating the RoI (62 percent), lack of interest among employees (49 percent), lack of data and insights related to learning (46 percent), aligning to the company’s overall strategy (39 percent), and having a small L&D team (26 percent).
With the challenges in context, the top five priorities for the L&D function in the near future, as identified by the respondents, seem extremely relevant and urgent:
● Building skills and capabilities required for the future (82 percent)
● Defining the RoI of learning interventions (63 percent)
● Improving employee productivity and performance (58 percent)
● Aligning L&D strategy to business (58 percent)
● Developing leadership (53 percent)
Digital learning is the most aspirational mode of learning
With state-mandated lockdowns and restrictions on movement, remote working has become the norm in many industries that can function digitally. It should then come as no surprise that digital learning tools have also increased in popularity among employees and employers alike. Organizations that previously deployed classroom training have also shifted to digital courses and learning.
Naturally, digital learning has emerged as the frontrunner in being the most aspirational mode of learning. Additionally, as organizations identify new ways of supporting their employees' learning journeys, coaching, mentoring, and related methods have also become more favorable. Here is the breakdown of different modes of learning and respondent’s favourability:
● Digital (mobile or web-based courses, gamified apps, experience platforms): 88 percent
● On-the-job (job shadowing, cross-functional projects, coaching, mentoring): 56 percent
● Non-traditional (book clubs, volunteering, offsite, conferences, workshops): 35 percent
● Traditional instructor-led (classroom learning, university tie-ups): 15 percent
Informal learning is as vital as formal learning
Informal or non-structured forms of learning (that the organization does not mandate) are critical in assessing a continuous learning culture that promotes curiosity among the workforce. Learning that takes place outside the structure of a module or training can help the learner apply what they have learned and nurture their ability to utilize purely technical knowledge. Being aware of avenues of informal learning within your workplace can offer insights related to interest areas of employees, their learning patterns, and engagement.
While 95 percent of the respondents strongly agreed or agreed that informal learning is as important as formal learning, only 42 percent said they tracked it. This gap has been a cause of concern among some L&D experts who want to measure all forms of learning to identify its impact on results and performance. This is important because 94 percent of the respondents stated that tracking data on informal learning could significantly improve the L&D strategy, indicating an appetite for measuring it.
Opportunities galore to upgrade digital learning
The recent uptick in digital learning notwithstanding, there remains a significant opportunity to upgrade digital learning tools. Despite the increased adoption and interest, there is a vast gap between what L&D leaders recognize as effective digital learning and where they stand currently. This gap represents an opportunity for organizations to entirely re-imagine their learning function and revitalize it with digital learning strategies.
To put things in context, 43 percent of the respondents said they do not use any new-age learning experience platform, and 56 percent stated that their employees spend less than a fourth of their time on digital learning. When asked what portion of their L&D investment is in digital learning as compared to other modes, this is what the results were:
● Sixty-two percent of the respondents said it was less than 25 percent
● Twenty-nine percent of the respondents said it was between 25 percent and 50 percent
● Five percent of the respondents said it was between 25 percent and 50 percent
● Just four percent of the respondents stated that their investment in digital learning as compared to other modes, was more than 75 percent
Leadership involvement and 360 degrees are critical impact measures
Two of the biggest concerns of L&D leaders are generating interest among employees regarding learning programs and measuring the impact of learning. Thus, understanding motivation factors for employees and impact measure metrics is essential. Listed below are some of the most effective methods to motivate employees to learn:
- Active involvement of leadership in learning initiatives (75 percent)
- Regular communication, including learning campaigns (68 percent)
- Designing a learning pathway or roadmap (65 percent)
- Sponsoring external courses (45 percent)
- Rewards aligned to learning goals (43 percent)
- Learning-specific appreciation and recognition (36 percent)
Furthermore, here is what organizations measure to assess the impact of learning:
- Feedbacks and surveys (self, peer-to-peer, and manager): 82 percent
- Assessments (pre and post-learning, technical, and cognitive) 72 percent
- Performance (against goals and KPIs): 48 percent
- Employee engagement: 37 percent
- Employee retention: 18 percent
As companies navigate new business realities in a changing world of work, there is an imperative to focus on digital tools to ease their learning roadmaps. But what steps do they have to take? For more key takeaways on planning your L&D strategy, download the research report now