A new age for L&D: collaborating for individualised learning

We are often asked why learning and development remains so important in the age of automation. Given that technology will soon replace many jobs, and workers (especially Millennials) regularly change employers if not careers, do we need L&D at all?

In fact, it’s more important than ever. The UK L&D Report 2018 shows that 94 per cent of the best performers say learning and development is critical to success; the companies spending above the national average per employee on training are twice as likely to have highly satisfied employees. In addition, according to a study by the Association for Talent Development, companies offering comprehensive training programmes have 218% higher income per employee and have a 24% higher profit margin than those spending less on training.

However, given the (very rapid!) technological and demographic changes of recent years, the L&D toolkit undoubtedly looks a little different. That’s why the theme for the 6th annual Raytheon Symposium, recently hosted by Raytheon Professional Services in the UK and Germany, was “Enabling Learning for Maximum Impact”.

Putting the individual (employee) first

We need to help CEOs understand the importance of L&D in this new world: it’s far easier to upskill our internal talent, who already know the workings and ethos of our organisations, than it is to recruit new people in.

But what is the best way to upskill our people? Amongst the themes that emerged from the Symposium, was how technology is transforming what we need to learn. Whereas training and learning has traditionally taken place amongst groups in classroom settings, the instant access to remote mobile technology (i.e. mobile learning) has changed the learning landscape.

The focus for L&D therefore needs to become more individualised, not less. All of us need to figure out how our unique talents can have a business impact. We need to help individuals identify their talents, to strengthen strengths and not focus on weaknesses, and to deliver individualised learning and development.

Blended learning

To make individualised learning a reality, we need to be collaborative. Organisations need to embed collaboration into their culture and business processes. What could this look like? Well, let’s start by breaking down learning content into bite-sized chunks – this provides fast access to learning, increases engagement and contributes to improved performance. You might know this as ‘micro-learning’, and it should be seen as part of a whole eco-system of learning methods.

This can be blended with adaptive learning too, to get even closer to the needs of individuals. With artificial intelligence (AI) starting to tell us what people need to learn – like asking questions when someone starts learning and then repeating those questions to check their progress – we can even identify individuals’ learning styles and personalise learning accordingly.

As with micro-learning, adaptive learning will not deliver results if it is seen as a bolt-on or replacement for face-to-face learning. We all still have an appetite for human coaching – that’s never going away.

So, we need to collaborate, learn together, use the tech tools at our disposal, and go on a journey together as manager and employee, coach and coachee. Whichever way you look at it, that puts L&D at the very heart of business performance for many years to come.

For more insights and takeaways from the Raytheon Symposium 2018, download the Executive Summary here.