Investment in learning

Written by Barry Johnson on 8 January 2018

Today, careers span 50 years (or more) and a person may go through three or four functions within three or four companies or may only work in one company in one function that is rapidly changing requiring continual updating of skills, knowledge, attitude, organisation capability and level of seniority.

Careers evolve, most people in most modern industries are facing continual change as the Fourth Industrial Revolution impacts industry and society. A general estimate is that many skills have a half-life of only five years, some areas much, much faster and some, perhaps, requiring continual incremental learning.

Well, in L&D, you knew that. It is the thing that requires continual investment in ensuring the skills, knowledge, values, culture and beliefs of the people in your company. It is the thing that has diverted sensible recruitment to seek talent, a concept that is intangible.

Much university education thinks subject not national need, thinks past, not future. 

We have seen university graduates with degrees that are totally unsuitable for any specific career challenge or are working clearing tables in a café. Much university education thinks subject not national need, thinks past, not future.

We have had honours graduates with appropriate titled degrees and in training they have said, yes, we did that, only for this key behavioural set to have been one lecture one evening and not compulsory.

We in L&D must build and rebuild our expertise, broaden our thinking, and help the learners in our care learn how to learn and for them to assist others to learn. The key to rapid learning has always been social and hierarchical.

Social from the point of view of sharing, showing, asking and supporting others to achieve something they want or need to do or understand. Hierarchical from the point of view of leaders giving learners tasks to develop the knowledge and skills needed though support and exposure.

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They can help and empower employees to take ownership for personal growth and development of themselves and to share skills and knowledge. Learning is now the key role of managers and executives in our industries, but do they know that and are you helping them learn to do that?

People learn most of what they need to learn on-the-job but off-the-job learning is still crucial. Many learners need to learn how to learn, and facilitators of learning are now advancing their skills as neuroscience is providing understandings of learning and we are recognising some common instructional practices are just inefficient.

We in L&D now have a key role in the profitability and survival of the company that employs us.

We need to be working with the directors, building and integrating learning systems such as on and off the job learning, micro-learning, social learning, distance learning with facilitator support, video distribution, mobile use, etc. that put learners at the centre and gives them agile learning and environmental options.

One-size-fits-all training has now long past. The learner is central and learning is the key to profit and organisational survival in this Fourth Industrial Revolution.


About the author

Barry Johnson BA, Chartered MCIPD, MCMI is the co-founder of Learning Partners. He has extensive experience in designing assessment events for development and selection and is an experienced facilitator and assessor.​


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