Only 20% of UK organisations who have adapted their L&D offering to address a potential AI skills gap offer the required real-world practice to hone new skills; L&D professionals and employees list adaptability, flexibility and interpersonal skills among the most valuable in the modern workplace
D2L, a global learning technology leader, has announced the results of two surveys of 500 learning and development (L&D) leaders and 500 employees at UK organisations, which reveal new insights into British preparedness to meet the reskilling challenge posed by automation and AI, and the evolving role of technology in the overall corporate learning experience.
According to the World Economic Forum, by 2020 more than a third of the desired core skillsets of most occupations will be comprised of skills that are not yet considered crucial to that job today. As such, many employees will need to be upskilled to focus more on increasing human interaction and providing a more personalised service.
D2L’s research revealed that 74% of L&D professionals believe the rise of automation and AI is having a serious effect on their workforce, and 59% have subsequently adapted their L&D programmes to address this challenge. Despite this, nearly a third (32%) do not believe, or are unsure, whether their current L&D offering is adequate to address the potential skills gaps caused by AI and automation. Employees are even less confident: 60% believe automation will have some effect on their careers over the next five years, and 59% don’t believe, or are unsure, whether their current L&D offering can meet these challenges.
“Clearly there is a disconnect between what L&D practitioners believe will meet the reskilling challenge, and how employees see the situation,” says Alan Hiddleston, Director of Corporate Sales EMEA at D2L. “Although many L&D professionals are changing their programmes to address shifting requirements, this research suggests they are doing so without the requisite staff consultation. Half of the employees questioned had been negatively impacted because of a lack of training, and almost ninety per cent agreed that the quality of an organisation’s L&D offering impacts their decision on whether or not to work there. As such, this disconnect could lead to turbulence in how employees engage with their training, poorer reskilling outcomes and employee discontent.”
Desirable future skills and how to cultivate them
The research also found that L&D professionals and employees differ in their views of not only how training should be delivered, but what skill sets that training should cultivate.
In response to current reskilling challenge, most L&D professionals have evolved their offering to make training available to a larger number of employees (57%) and invested in technology that changes the way training is delivered (48%). The least common adaptation to L&D programmes has been including opportunities for real world practice (20%). Conversely, employees cited their organisation would do well to add new technology features that enable collaboration and include rich content like video (26%) and including more opportunities for real world practice (24%).
“With the vast majority of workers currently working remotely, and the future of the office space uncertain, it’s even more important that businesses invest their L&D budgets into technologies and programmes that provide remote employees the opportunity for real-world practice of valuable soft skills. Of course, collaboration tools have seen a great uptick in usage during recent months, but this has been largely confined to those that enable teams to work together efficiently and maintain momentum for the meantime, rather than learn together collaboratively for the future” says Hiddleston.
When L&D professionals were asked which skills would be most important for employees to develop over the next three years, 42% cited technical skills, with interpersonal skills (37%) the second most popular option. When asked about skills development over the coming years, employees cited interpersonal skills (38%), written and oral communication (38%) and cognitive skills (37%) among the most likely to be very important.
Lack of agility in L&D
In 2017, D2L conducted similar research among HR professionals and employees in the UK, which also found that enterprise L&D programmes weren’t meeting the expectations of staff, for different reasons. The 2017 research found that, despite 78% of employees stating that it was important that their organisation was leveraging new technologies for learning, only 15% of HR directors agreed.
“When we compare this to the results from our previous study, it appears that many organisations unfortunately remain a step behind the demands of their employees when it comes to corporate learning. While some of the technological concerns raised in 2017’s study have been addressed, L&D professionals now face the challenge of providing newer solutions that enable greater collaboration, as well as providing real-world training opportunities. For a programme to be effective, it is important to keep pace with new learning challenges and styles as they emerge,” concludes Hiddleston.
Data for this survey was collected by Censuswide on behalf of D2L. Censuswide was responsible for data collected, data analysis and reporting. Censuswide and D2L collaborated on the survey questionnaire. All survey responses were captured between 24th January and 3rd February 2020. Censuswide abide by and employ members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles.
D2L’s Brightspace is a cloud-based learning platform that makes learning easy, flexible and smart. Brightspace is not like a traditional Learning Management System (LMS), it is easy to create engaging courses and content, integrate video, personalise learning, capture and share expertise across the organisation, and supports all mobile devices. Plus, Brightspace enables the future of learning with adaptive learning, intelligent agents, course interactives, full support for competency-based learning and world-leading learning analytics. Our clients report improved productivity, performance growth, lower turnover of employees, greater engagement and ultimately better business outcomes.
D2L believes learning is the foundation upon which all progress and achievement rests. Working closely with organisations globally, D2L has transformed the way millions of people learn online and in the classroom. Learn more about D2L for schools, higher education and businesses at www.D2L.com.
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