The C-suite must wake up to learning and development
by Rachel Kuftinoff, learning consultancy director at KnowledgePool, Part of Capita Learning Services
Thousands of new graduates have just entered the workforce at this time of year, and the skills gap remains a huge problem. So why is the C-suite still not utilising learning and development options?
A recent survey by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills found that although well over a million instances of a skills gap were reported, a third of employers hadn’t trained any staff members in over a year.
The 46% of employers that had trained staff in the past wanted to provide more training, but barriers such as lack of time and funding stopped them – suggesting that there is a “ceiling” to the value organisations place on training. This leads to wasted talent and poor loyalty within companies.
Companies now need to be able to provide a blended solution to suit all individuals, and to give millennials, the newest generation of workers, the opportunity to learn.
There is a great deal of frustration currently amongst senior L&D leaders, who know that this means the learning offering needs to be provided in a different way. However, they are told there is no budget increase possible or that spending must be cut, leaving fewer trainers and resources. The need to transform offerings and the lack of funds to do so is a vicious circle.
That circle could be broken if CEOs and CFOs started paying attention to how they can enable the L&D transformation in their own company. If you don’t offer employees something today, you wont have a workforce tomorrow. Without a comprehensive agile learning mechanism, you will not attract the right talent. Without the talent, you will not have a successful business. Every aspect of L&D is aligned with the strategic business plan, so the C-suite need to be working with their own senior L&D person. If that person is not on the board, bring them in. Any plan for success, growth or even changing a company’s direction will require their input.
Talking about transformation doesn’t always mean spending more – it means allocating it in a different way, to gain efficiency. It comes from looking for those marginal gains in performance that create an overall difference. There may be investments required up front, but then the rewards can be reaped within the next five years.
Investing in an external partner to manage an aspect of your business, whether it’s the core or the peripherals, relieves the C-suite of risk or burden. Outsourced partners will be able to outline different models of financial risk and reward, and guarantee you cost savings and efficiency gain.
You can increase opportunities by working with a provider who can source the best training – not just the best that you know about. The C-suite should not be afraid of taking that step, because saving some money is great, but serving a lot of money over a five-year plan is better.
Talk to experts to understand what gains can be made. Invite potential partners to come to you with suggestions, and be completely transparent about what you are trying to achieve, and be prepared to listen to the disruptive thinking and innovation. Just because your company has always done something one way, does not mean that is the right way. The variances of what outsourced partners can achieve is mind blowing, but requires an open mind to accept it.
It’s also important to find the partner that suits you. Don’t force it if you don’t match perfectly, as the right provider will be out there.
The onus is not only on CEOs and CFOs – senior L&D leaders should be pushing their case to the board, too. Perhaps L&D do not know how to put forward a financial argument, and CFOs cannot quantify the emotional arguments. By working together to find the right external partner, you can transform your workplace curriculum to reap the benefits in the future.
Find more from KnowledgePool, part of Capita Learning Services.