More UK CEOs supporting workforce learning and development since COVID-19, finds new LinkedIn study

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Written by Jon Kennard on 4 June 2020 in Press Zone
Press Zone

Upskilling and reskilling, employee wellbeing and helping companies lead through change are now top priorities for L&D professionals.

Over three-quarters (76%) of L&D professionals in the UK say that more CEOs are now actively championing the development of their workforce since COVID-19, according to a new study from LinkedIn - the world’s largest professional network. This is up from 28% in a comparable study conducted in October 2019. 

The ‘Leading with Learning’ report from LinkedIn Learning - which surveyed 142 L&D and HR professionals in the UK to understand how the global pandemic is impacting the UK workforce - found that 72% say they are now focused on rebuilding and reshaping their organisation for a post COVID-19 world. 

The biggest challenges facing L&D professionals in recent weeks include supporting employees as they adapt to working from home (49%), helping leaders and managers lead through change (49%), and managing the emotional needs of their employees (39%).

Furthermore, 68% say that supporting the mental health and wellbeing of employees has become a new part of their role since COVID-19, and 67% have noted that managers are increasingly sharing learning resources with their teams to help them through the crisis. 

Namrata Murlidhar, Director at LinkedIn Learning, said: “The global pandemic has forced many companies to pause or delay hiring, and instead focus on helping their existing employees adapt to the ‘new normal’ and develop skills that will be crucial to future growth.

"Many have moved quickly to ensure their people are set-up for success working from home, and managers are well-equipped to lead their teams remotely. With digitisation and automation likely to accelerate, we’ll see more companies prioritise reskilling and upskilling their employees as new in-demand roles emerge, redeploy their people as business models evolve, and create cultures of continuous learning so they stay ahead of the curve.”

Building workforce resilience in a post COVID-19 world

In the next three months, L&D professionals say that upskilling and reskilling employees (44%), helping their organisation lead through change (44%), and ensuring employee wellbeing (40%) will be top priorities. 59% say that reskilling the current workforce will be crucial to filling critical skills gaps, and 63% say that internal mobility will be important as companies look to develop their people.

Learning a crucial part of company strategy and culture

Two-thirds (66%) of L&D professionals say that learning and development is becoming a more strategic part of their organisation, and 59% say they are starting to develop a stronger learning culture. Furthermore, more than three-quarters (79%) believe they will see an increase in ‘social learning’ where employees prefer to learn together in virtual environments as they seek a sense of community. 

Leaders turning to learning 

Data from LinkedIn shows an increase in the number of C-level executives turning to online learning to help navigate the new economic and work environment. UK executives increased their time viewing LinkedIn Learning courses by 60% in March and April, compared to January and February.

Additional insights from LinkedIn’s Workforce Confidence Index also explored motivations for online learning and found that 20% of leaders said they were learning to become ‘better leaders’, with 40% saying they are learning to ‘succeed at their current job’. 

Professionals investing time in learning new skills

As people continue to adapt to working from home or see their employment circumstances change, many are dedicating more time to learning new skills. Globally, people spent 7.7m hours tuning into LinkedIn Learning content in April.

In the UK, more than 198,000 hours of LinkedIn Learning content was consumed in April - a 68% increase compared to March. 65% of workers in the UK are learning to ‘advance in their career’, and 38% are ‘learning to change career path’. 

The top 5 most watched courses on LinkedIn in the UK are: