Andrea M. Pampaloni’s bio photo

Andrea M. Pampaloni, Ph.D., founder of AMP Consulting, has more than 20-years of experience in corporate, nonprofit, academic, and government settings. As a communication consultant, she has been presented at national and international conferences and published in several journals and books. Andrea earned her Ph.D. from Rutgers University, focusing on organizational/interpersonal communication and public relations.

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Andrea M. Pampaloni

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July 25, 2019

How to Stay in Sync with Your Learner to Close Learning Gaps

Tetris Building Blocks with Gaps Between Them

Although U.S. companies spent over $87 billion on training expenses last year, 1 employers continue to lament the scarcity of qualified employees. And the talent gap is growing. 2 3 Korn Ferry predicts that the global skills gap will continue to increase through 2030. Left unchecked, the financial impact of this talent shortage could reach $8.452 trillion in unrealized annual revenue by 2030, equivalent to the combined GDP of Germany and Japan. 4

Employees are also impacted. Our recent survey on Employee Workplace Trends finds that outside of salary, and regardless of age, Training & Development is the most important consideration when taking on a new job. And at least 50% of employees across sectors are concerned about their current level of technical skills.5 Dissatisfied with a lack of training or growth opportunities or burdened by additional job-related responsibilities due to insufficient staffing, employees are facing workplaces with lower productivity and higher turnover. Across L&D and HR, these conditions can lead to legal ramifications and potentially impact a company’s reputation. Fortunately, there is time to mitigate the risk.

To address learning gaps, the Brookings Institution suggests that employers reframe the issue.  That is, instead of focusing on the skills gap, they should pay attention to the learning gap. A skills gap can be addressed by vocational training but correcting a learning gap emphasizes improving cognitive competencies and socio-emotional learning. Proficiencies in critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, and creativity,6 7 for example, enhance performance in virtually all jobs and, as Bloomberg reports, are highly desired but hard-to-find attributes in employees.

According to Korn Ferry Global Technology Market president, Werner Penk, “The United States is so far failing to equip the next generation with the new skills that are needed to fill a large number of high-tech roles. As with many economies, the onus falls on companies to train workers.”

2019 Workplace Trends Survey

More than 600 employees in the retail, hospitality, banking and telecommunications industries were surveyed and provided insights on learning and development offerings and gaps, and their concerns about the ability to grow in their company and industry. Our study reveals that despite the resources that businesses pour into L&D programs, learners are not getting the training they need.

Key findings

Importantly, there is a gap in how leaders and employees perceive learning needs, methods, and frequency. Employees indicated that company-provided training opportunities were “very” or “somewhat” important in their decision to accept a job with over 70% saying that has “some” to “extreme” concern about their skills. These employees want training that will help them grow in their industry, specifically in the area of leadership. However, employers most often provide technical and technology-based skills training that addresses more functional business needs.

Employees prefer instructor-led training, finding it to be the most engaging learning method, but more than 20% of L&D leaders surveyed plan on decreasing instructor-led training. Roughly a third of employees surveyed said their company helps them gain the skills they need, with about an equal number saying they had to figure it out on their own or that they are unsure how to address learning gaps. The exception to this is the telecommunications industry where most employees said they had to learn on their own.

New employees want to know that they can grow with a company. With the exception of the hospitality industry, training and development was the most important consideration after salary when evaluating a new job – even more so than benefits and flexible hours.

Employees also feel like they are being bombarded with changes, saying they face new policies and procedures every week or month. This is in stark contrast to leaders who say changes are rolled out quarterly or, more typically, annually. These gaps and opposing viewpoints indicate a strong need for a redesign of learning programs across industries. 

How can Learning & Development leaders keep up?

Listen to what your employees are telling you!

A recent Harvard Business Review report found that more than 50% of senior leaders believe that their talent development efforts are inadequate in building the critical skills and capabilities their organization needs. A reason for this gap is that the programs offered don’t match the skills needed for the organization to grow and thrive.  Also, employees don’t apply what they learn in the practice of their job with some evidence suggesting that just 10% of what is learned through $200 billion worth of training actually delivers measurable results.8

Employees want to learn and grow with a business but feel that their company does not provide them with the necessary resources to do so. Create a learning environment that provides that opportunity.  Assess learning gaps and balance technical skill training with employees’ preferences for soft skills such as leadership and problem-solving. 

Incorporate multiple and blended methods of T&D:  

While employees like the immediacy and engagement of instructor-led training, other methods can be equally effective for certain types of training or for smaller businesses with more limited budgets. Create your own blended program that incorporates different and creative methods, such as simulations, video or podcasts, boot camps, job-switching, apps, gamification, and interactive guides.9

Other recommended top learning trends are to use video to keep learners interested (people retain the material faster and longer), customizing content through adaptive learning (algorithms determine user-specific materials), using xAPI and other technologies, and sharing user knowledge across peer groups.8

Measure results

Fun and interesting content is a great way to engage learners but if it isn’t relevant to business goals or if new skills are not applied, it’s money wasted. Metrics are the gold standard for evaluating the benefits of training efforts. Establish SMART goals and desired outcomes for each training session to clearly identify how and what will be measured

Evaluating your current needs, goals, and L&D efforts will help identify learning gaps and determine the most effective next steps. This will ensure that employees develop both the technical skills they need to be competent at their jobs and the soft skills they desire to be invested in their and your future success.

Additional Resources:

 

 https://trainingmag.com/trgmag-article/2018-training-industry-report/
 2https://www.forbes.com/sites/serenitygibbons/2018/11/29/5-ways-to-addres...
 https://business.linkedin.com/talent-solutions/blog/trends-and-research/...
 https://dsqapj1lakrkc.cloudfront.net/media/sidebar_downloads/FOWTalentCr...
 https://smallbusiness.chron.com/effects-lack-employee-training-42687.html
 https://www.highspeedtraining.co.uk/hub/lack-of-training-in-the-workplace/
 7https://www.brookings.edu/opinions/to-close-the-skills-gap-start-with-th...
 8 https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2016-job-skills-report/
 9 Bloomberg
 10https://hbr.org/2019/03/educating-the-next-generation-of-leaders
 11https://elearningindustry.com/employee-training-methods-techniques-try-t...
 12https://elogiclearning.com/2019-elearning-trends/ 

Andrea M. Pampaloni’s bio photo

Andrea M. Pampaloni, Ph.D., founder of AMP Consulting, has more than 20-years of experience in corporate, nonprofit, academic, and government settings. As a communication consultant, she has been presented at national and international conferences and published in several journals and books. Andrea earned her Ph.D. from Rutgers University, focusing on organizational/interpersonal communication and public relations.

Written by

Andrea M. Pampaloni

Topics

Enterprise learning and development report