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Elliot Gowans


Senior VP International

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What are the pillars of a modern learning culture?


We are in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution, which is creating new jobs, transforming the way people work, and putting increased pressure on organisations to upskill and reskill workers to ensure they thrive as the marketplace shifts.

From the employee perspective, nearly 80% of UK employees believe learning and development is important, and nearly 40% say that a lack of training has negatively impacted their career, according to D2L research.

In fact, employees prioritise the availability of quality learning and development opportunities so that it impacts their decision when choosing an employer. The same research revealed that 38% of UK employees would consider the quality of employee training when offered a job.

HR departments that do not recognise this and modernise their learning and development approach as a result risk losing top talent and competitive advantage.

Amid uncertainty about the future of work, employers and employees agree on one thing: in order to effectively adapt to change and thrive, organisations must provide quality learning and development opportunities, and build a culture of modern workplace learning.  

Recognising the role of technology

A modern workplace learning culture inspires, motivates and supports employees as they move into new roles, and empowers them to acquire new skills and competencies, or develop those they already have on demand.

Today’s workers embrace ongoing learning as a fact of working life and want ownership of their professional development.

It also considers the expectations, needs and preferences of today’s learners, noting that today’s employees are more geographically dispersed than ever before, working in remote and field roles, and that they expect and anticipate having opportunities to learn and connect with co-workers around the globe for their projects as well as their learning and development.

Today’s workers are eager to learn and want a modern learning experience that utilises the most up-to-date technology and offers them the flexibility to learn from anywhere at any time. In fact, over three-quarters (78 %) of UK employees think it’s important to make use of new technologies for learning.

So, what are the best ways to leverage technology for modern learning?

1. Utilising video

The majority of today’s workers turn to YouTube when they want to learn something, and video has proved to be an engaging format for many learners. It is well-suited for explaining complex subjects in a way that can be quick and easy to understand.

Video works particularly well in answering iterative, on-the-job support questions or demonstrating a skill or process. For example, a customer service representative might be better helped with short, bite-size video tutorials on how to handle various cases throughout their workday in lieu of one-time, in-person sessions that cover a lot of training ground.

At the same time, video can be an important method for capturing and sharing internal subject matter expertise, and, when used to create an on-demand content repository, provides employees with the visibility and access that traditional methods usually lack.

2. Utilising mobile

Meanwhile, mobile learning gives employees control over when and where they learn. This is helpful to both employees and organisations as it’s become much less common for all staff to be co-located all of the time.

More often than not, a workforce is made up of office-based staff, those who spend time at other locations or occasionally work from home, a percentage of full-time homeworkers, and a number of employees that spend a lot of time on the move.

A ‘one size fits me’ rather than ‘one size fits all’ approach is the new norm for workforce training.

Not surprisingly, it isn’t easy to schedule office-based training when managing such a varied mix of employees.

If staff can start work on a training course online in the office, then switch to a laptop or computer in another location and pick up the same session on their tablet or other smart device at home, it helps maintain continuity of learning, which drives learner engagement.

3. Adapted and blended learning

Technology-based learning also provides another benefit: adaptive learning. Indeed, a ‘one size fits me’ rather than ‘one size fits all’ approach is the new norm for workforce training.

Digital learning programmes that support personalised learning paths can adapt to meet individual learner needs for course delivery and content, which makes for a more engaging - and therefore successful - learning experience.

Going further with learner preferences, research indicates that 41% of employees want their employer’s L&D programmes to use blended learning, which combines online and traditional methods.

Often involving the use of video and e-portfolios, as well as face-to-face tutoring, blended learning enables the learner to drive his or her learning experience. It utilises technology, but still includes the human element.

HR teams should also take note to provide opportunities for workers to connect with each other as part of their learning experience to enhance retention and engagement.  

Today’s workers embrace ongoing learning as a fact of working life and want ownership of their professional development.

Organisations that employ modern strategies and next-generation learning tools will be better equipped to help employees thrive in the future of work and engage them for the long haul as they seek to grow their skills and remain agile amid rapid change.


Author Profile Picture
Elliot Gowans

Senior VP International

Read more from Elliot Gowans

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