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Paul Freudenberg


Chief Problem Buster

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10 statistics showing L&D has changed for good


As the world attempts to find a new norm, it’s become apparent for learning and development professionals that the changes the field saw over the course of the pandemic aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Here’s the quick run-down from research in 2021.

1. 70% of SMEs say they plan to train and develop existing employees to tackle skill gaps.

This represents a huge change for small to medium-sized enterprises where learning and development has often been implemented on an ad hoc, needs-must basis.

The same research reveals 65% of large companies also say they plan to train and develop their existing employees to tackle skill gaps within their business.

2. Learning technologies are now used by 79% of employers.

Considering the above, it should come as no surprise that the majority of businesses are investing in learning technologies.

The pandemic meant businesses needed to invest in a huge range of technologies to ensure communications and operations remained productive. For many learning and development departments, the shift to remote working meant learning and development strategies needed to be entirely rethought.

This represented a significant opportunity to invest in more advanced learning technologies to suit the new needs of the business.

3. 66% of learning and development professionals are focused on rebuilding and reshaping their organisations.

A significant majority of learning and development professionals agree there has been a shift in the function of L&D, meaning they need to focus on rebuilding and reshaping their organisations in 2021. 

L&D should have a strategic function for businesses in five key areas:

  • Developing employee capabilities
  • Increasing employee engagement
  • Attracting and retaining the best talent
  • Building an employer brand
  • Creating a stronger company culture

4. 64% of professionals say learning and development is a “need to have” in 2021.

Globally polled learning and development professionals agree L&D has shifted from “nice to have” in a business, to a “need to have” in 2021.

Much of this comes down to external challenges businesses are facing due to a VUCA environment. Globalised markets are more competitive than ever, as well as more volatile due to a constantly changing landscape. For businesses to navigate this, they need their employees to be more motivated, engaged and innovative than ever before.

A strong learning and development strategy can ensure employees have the capabilities necessary to tackle these challenges, as well as attracting the best talent to the business.

5. 51% of learning and development professionals agree internal mobility has become more of a priority.

A majority of L&D professionals say internal mobility is more of a priority now than before the Covid-19 pandemic.

Employees are quitting their jobs in record numbers, across industries, for a variety of reasons. Better pay and a better work-life balance are often cited as common reasons, but a significant number of employees want a better company culture with more opportunities.

Therefore ensuring your learning and development strategy enables and promotes internal mobility should be a top priority for businesses that hope to both attract and retain the best talent.

6. 59% say upskilling and reskilling is the top priority for learning and development globally.

Many businesses have identified skills gaps, whether these are gaps that are affecting them now or gaps that will present challenges to future growth plans. 59% of learning and development professionals surveyed globally stated upskilling and reskilling was the top priority for them, representing a 15% increase since June 2020.

Increasing internal mobility isn’t possible without upskilling and reskilling staff and has huge benefits for businesses, allowing them to address skill gaps and remain competitive.

Other top priorities for learning and development revealed in this survey included leadership and management, as well as virtual onboarding. 

7. 76% of Gen Z believe learning is the key to a successful career.

This statistic is important because businesses need to attract and retain Gen Z candidates and employees if they want to remain competitive in the future. Similarly, for millennials, 87% of them say learning and development in the workplace is important to them.

Gen Z watched 50% more hours per learner of learning content throughout 2019 than 2020, far above other generations. For learning and development departments, offering this generation significant learning and development opportunities and plans, with personalised content on a digital platform is key to engaging and retaining these employees. 

8. 63% say L&D’s seat at the C-suite table is secure in 2021.

This statistic might not sound like a huge majority, but it represents a colossal shift from research just 12 months ago. When learning and development professionals were asked in March 2020 whether their CEOs were active champions of learning, only a meagre 27% of them said yes.

In light of the huge changes to working practices over the last year, it appears as though the C-suite has finally come to see the huge value that a successful learning and development strategy can bring to businesses. 

9. 94% of employees will stay longer at a company that invests in their learning and development.

Almost all employees say they’d stay longer with a business that invests in their learning and development. For businesses with a strong learning culture, the retention rate rises by between 30% to 50% above industry averages.

10. Businesses that invest in employee training are 21% more profitable.

Research confirms this new investment and focus on learning and development is having a direct impact on the bottom line. Businesses that invest in employee training can see a significant increase in profit compared to those that don’t.

The businesses that see the most impact are those that take a bespoke approach to learning and development, aligning it with business strategy and goals.

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Paul Freudenberg

Chief Problem Buster

Read more from Paul Freudenberg

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