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Highlights of the CIPD learning and development survey 2008


SurveyIt's that time of year again. The CIPD annual survey reveals some interesting findings for learning and development. Victoria Winkler gives members a sneak preview in advance of the survey's launch at HRD this week.

From building coaching capabilities to developments in elearning the world of learning is far from static. The annual CIPD learning and development survey, published this week at HRD, provides an insight into current and emerging trends and issues in learning and development and a glimpse of what the future may hold.

Employee skills, and more specifically the lack of them, is a subject that is rarely out of the press. It was within this context that Lord Leitch published his report for the government on predicting future skills needs and improving future skills levels in the UK. But what impact has this had on activities within organisations?

Over half of organisations have not been influenced by the report, according to the 729 respondents to the annual CIPD learning and development survey. And only 13% have signed the employers' skills pledge. The impact on activities in private sector organisations is particularly low compared with their counterparts in the public sector. This is despite the majority of organisations reporting that they will require a broader range of skills in two years, and 44% reporting that they will also require a higher level of skills.

Photo of Victoria Winkler"Coaching by line managers has increased in over half of organisations, and is also viewed as the most effective learning and development practice by the majority."

Further investigation is needed to develop a fuller understanding of the enablers and barriers and the perceived organisational benefits that the Leitch recommendations could deliver. However, the news is not all gloomy. A positive level of interest remains in the form of employers who would consider initiatives such as the signing of the pledge, involvement in foundation degrees, external accreditation for in-house training programmes and participation in Train to Gain.

There is no doubting the government's commitment to making the UK a skills leader by 2020. But there appears to be more work to be done to convince employers that the government has the right answers to the problem.

With employers now looking for broader and higher skills among their staff, management and leadership skills are still considered to be very important. While these, along with communication/interpersonal skills, are abilities that organisations feel are essential to their success, it is worrying that respondents report that new recruits are often found to be lacking them. There is also widespread support for the view that government should be doing more to raise the level of more basic skills among young people.

Continuing the trend of the 2007 CIPD learning and development survey, the role of line managers is once again highlighted within this report as crucial to the delivery of learning and development. The majority of organisations have installed new programmes to develop the role of line managers over the past two years, and there is a strong belief that the emphasis on line managers' responsibilities for learning and development will continue to grow in importance over the next five years.

"61% of organisations now use more in-house development programmes. Which is not surprising as it is viewed as one of the most effective learning and development practices."

Coaching by line managers has increased in over half of organisations, and is also viewed as the most effective learning and development practice by the majority. However, this can only put additional pressure on line managers in their evolving portfolio of responsibilities. And the challenge remains of how to evaluate the effects of this 'coaching' – particularly in light of the current emphasis, as confirmed by the survey, placed on anecdotal feedback.

61% of organisations now use more in-house development programmes. Which is not surprising as it is viewed as one of the most effective learning and development practices. Given that these programmes can be tailored to meet the needs of the business, there is an obvious link to the fact that closer integration of learning and development activity and business strategy is expected to be the major change over the next five years.

Although elearning has grown and is expected to do so further, with the public sector trailblazing the way forward, its effectiveness as a stand-alone tool is not yet proven. While many think of it as the most important development in training in the past few decades, only a small minority believe that it is the most effective learning and development practice. A need remains to use it alongside other learning methods, such as classroom-based learning, with nearly all organisations believing that elearning is most effective when combined with other forms of learning.

Despite a gloomy economic outlook, marginally more respondents expect the funding of learning and development to increase over the next year rather than decrease (25% compared to 20%) with the majority (51%) predicting that funding will remain stable.

It is encouraging that many employers are stepping up training efforts despite starting to feel the economic pinch. With employers still reporting recruitment difficulties, it is clear that investing in learning and development will continue to be crucial if firms are to maintain the skilled workforce they need to meet their objectives.

Victoria Winkler is the CIPD adviser for learning and development

The CIPD Learning and Development Survey 2008 is launched at the CIPD HRD 2008 conference this week. You can find further insights into the implications of these survey findings in a publication in the Reflections series called 'Reflections on the 2008 Learning and Development Survey: Latest trends in learning, training and development'. Both publications can be downloaded free from the CIPD website

To read last week's look at the elearning results of the survey - Elearning: Haven't we been here before? click here


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