Here are 5 issues with the current training model of workplace learning:
ONE – Training is often considered an ineffective approach to leaning at work as a number of reports in mainstream newspapers have shown. Here is just one. In Companies waste billions of dollars on ineffective corporate training, Roberta Holland writes
“About $162 billion was spent in 2012 in the United States on corporate training—in what Harvard Business School Professor Michael Beer calls the “the great training robbery”. It’s a huge amount, and some of it works, and a lot of it doesn’t,” Beer says, citing the example of an oil company that built a $20 million safety training facility but still suffered several fatal accidents nonetheless … Some studies have shown that only 10% of corporate training is effective, he says.”
TWO – Training is often not the right answer to a performance problem. As managers don’t see learning as their responsibility, this usually results in the Training Department becoming course “order takers” since managers tend to see solutions to problems as courses. But a course is often not the best solution, a Ron Carlucci points out in When companies should invest in training their employees — and when they shouldn’t, Ron Carucci.
“Training is useful at times but often fails, especially when it is used to address problems that it can’t actually solve … Many well-intended leaders view training as a panacea to obvious learning opportunities or behavioral problems.”
THREE – Although some training will be required, focusing on training as the only way to support organisational learning and development is no longer enough as Charles Jennings points out very clearly.
“Corporate learning and capability-building needs to grow up. For any organization trying to stay competitive, conventional training is no longer enough, or even the answer in many cases … For new people in their organization, structured courses are usually important, to get them started – but formal learning alone won’t get them to high performance.”
FOUR – The current training model can no longer keep pace with the speed of business and the continuous nature of change. L&D can no longer provide everything everyone needs to do their job now and in the future (particularly as L&D teams grow smaller and smaller). It takes time and effort to design, develop and deliver training content. Additionally, once a course, programme or curriculum has been developed there is often so much invested effort and cost that it’s unlikely to be changed (or discarded) as fast as it needs to be in order to keep pace with changing circumstances.
But more than this, today, in the early 21st century we are now seeing a number of new forces that are fundamentally transforming the world of work in what is being termed by some as the 4th Industrial Revolution. These forces are changing the nature of jobs yet again, which means a new reality for both organisations and for individuals.
A – Modern technologies are changing jobs: Many foresee widespread adoption of Artificial Intelligence will have a profound effect on the world of work. In fact, there have been many newspaper articles that talk about the numbers of jobs that will be replaced, whilst others focus on the fact that automation will significantly change more jobs. The implications for both employees and organisations are clear. Individuals will need to learn new skills to remain employable and organisations will need to ensure they have individuals with the relevant skills to remain competitive in their market. Anne Lise Kjaer, a futurist, sums it up well.
“The world is changing; complexity in society and business growth is changing the future of jobs and skills. Evolving technologies, notably robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are driving automation of ever more traditional jobs and rewriting the rules of education and skills. To this end, individuals as well as organisations will need to adopt a growth mindset and nurture the creativity, agility and lifelong learning skills that will make us, not just resilient, but thriving as the world changes.”
>>> For more on this, read The effect of automation.
B – Information is increasing exponentially yet its half-life is decreasing: Wikipedia explains that
“The half-life of knowledge or half-life of facts is the amount of time that has to elapse before half of the knowledge or facts in a particular area is superseded or shown to be untrue.”
According to some the half-life of skills is also diminishing fast, with some skills having only an 18-month window. Knowledge and skills now have such a short shelf-life that it is frequently said that a college degree will be out of date before the loan is paid off. The faster the pace of knowledge change, the more valuable the skill of learning becomes.
>>> For more on this, read The effect of information explosion and information half-life.
C – There is no such thing as a job for life: Individuals are now living longer than ever, and that as life expectancy continues to rise many people will be routinely working for 60 or 70 years. The consequence is that the traditional “job for life“ model will disappear and will be replaced by a “life of jobs” model. It is estimated that a 15 year-old today will navigate a portfolio of 17 jobs in 5 different industries. It is also thought that individuals will change specialisations more than once over their career. This will mean building a portfolio of skills over a collection of experiences that will in turn support multiple careers.
>>> For more on this, read There is no longer such a thing as a job for life
The implications in this changing world of work are immense: individuals will need to be constantly replacing out-of-date knowledge with new knowledge in a continuous process of unlearning and learning – not just relying on some intermittent training from their employers.
FIVE: Training is not the way modern professionals learn or prefer to learn. When it comes to learning and development, the modern employee – particularly the modern professional – has very different ways of learning. This is such a big topic that it will be covered in the next few pages.