No Image Available

Lyndon Wingrove

Thales Learning & Development

Director of Capabilities and Consulting

Read more from Lyndon Wingrove

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

The history of learning and development: 1990-present


The past 25 years

From 1990 up until today there have been some fairly radical changes in both the way people learn and the way businesses approach L&D in the workforce. With emerging technologies and a burgeoning interest in the more person-centred approach to training, L&D has come a long way from the days of the industrial revolution.

The 90s

The 90s saw some of the biggest changes in terms of training methods; with a new emphasis on the use of technology in every sector, L&D soon started to embrace it too. Not only did we see the emergence of elearning as a defined concept in 1997, but the new and expanding sector of IT and technology created a need for skilled workers who could push this growth forward. The increasingly common use of computers in the workplace also required employers to provide training for their workforce on the use of new technologies.


With the ever-changing landscape of various sectors, the government once again recognised a skills gap in several industries and consequently issued a skills strategy focusing on matching the demand of employers with the skills of workers. The whitepaper that was published detailed several challenges such as decreased productivity and limited international competitiveness, as well as suggested approaches to combat these. Several solutions were proposed including free education for school leavers with minimum qualifications, the inclusion of technology training in addition to numeracy and literacy as part of the Adult Basic Skills campaign, and the removal of the age cap on apprenticeships, allowing adults of all ages to apply for apprenticeships (the previous age limit was 25 years old). 

It was also suggested that apprenticeships should be designed in consultation with business to make sure they were fit for purpose. The whitepaper further recommended that there was need for a 'skills alliance'; a union of government, business and individuals to drive development and focus existing skills where needed. The ultimate aim was to ensure that potential employees had the skills they needed to find work, and that businesses were able to hire appropriate people for their needs who could rapidly apply their skills in a practical way. 


The drive for a more skilled workforce continued with the publication of the Leitch Review in 2006, which further highlighted the issues presented by the skills shortage, and decreed that the major issue was lack of qualifications amongst a significant element of the workforce. Targets were thus set stating that by 2020, 95% of the country should have a minimum of a level 2 qualification (equivalent to five GCSEs or a vocational award) and that there should be a dramatic increase in the numbers of individuals with higher levels of qualifications. As such diplomas, increased apprenticeship opportunities and the International Baccalaureate were introduced to help youths attain the necessary skills to contribute to the workforce. 

It was also suggested that responsibility should be shared between the government, businesses, and individuals, with businesses and individuals primarily managing the specific skills required in certain roles, and the government managing and promoting basic skills development for everyone.  


Today interest and investment in a good L&D strategy is coming to be commonplace. L&D has evolved greatly over the centuries and businesses are steadily improving their processes to make sure their employees receive the training and support they need to be able to do their job well. But while technology and new innovations have had a big impact on L&D in recent years, the focus is slowly moving back to where it needs to be: on the people. The emphasis on person-centred learning is rightfully having its day in the sun, and organisations, the government and individuals are all doing their part to ensure that training being delivered is tailored to ensure that individuals receive training to enable them to fulfil their potential while still positively contributing to the local businesses and the economy as a whole. Thankfully, people development has come a long way since the 19th century.

No Image Available
Lyndon Wingrove

Director of Capabilities and Consulting

Read more from Lyndon Wingrove

Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.


Thank you!