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3 Indications that training and development is breaking out across APAC in 2015

Having researched the APAC workplace over the last few years, there have been clear difficulties – even in expanding economies – in providing appropriate learning within organisations that balances the company / compliance / technical training needs with the personal development / soft skills training required.

Following our survey in 2012 it was clear that the perceived softer skills areas suffered the most from budget cuts within the GFC. More alarmingly the focus on these areas hasn’t been back on the agenda in enough organisations since. Until now.

After years of slashed budgets, lack of focus and a widening gap between the learning population and learning professionals (evident in our surveys) it seems there has been a broad “wake up call” across APAC. Simply put, these budget cuts have impacted human capital development and stunted the growth of the organisational bench. The cuts have impacted recruitment, in some cases accentuated retention issues and most alarmingly have left wide skill gaps within critical populations in the workplace; new managers,  first and second line managers, new sales personnel, service focused employees and more.  Perhaps then, it is not surprising that soft skills focus is back in vogue as organisations realise that these knowledge, skills and behaviours are not-so-soft-after-all and are at the heart of a growing, healthy, motivated and performing workforce.

You can download for free the full report into the APAC 2015 workplace learning trends here: https://nh159.infusionsoft.com/app/form/5165e6759446c0b5cef16ccb327a8dedand visit our website to access previous research papers: www.cegos.com.sg

Read on for some headlines coming out of the most positive survey into organisational training and development in years.  The survey was conducted across 2,424 respondents, 6 countries (Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore). Unusually for a survey like this the majority of those surveyed were Learners (1,964 employees and managers) backed up with a core data set of L&OD professionals (460).

 

  • Learners are crying out for personal and professional development – they are finally being heard

The 3 highest training motivators for those surveyed in 2015 making up almost 50% of responses:
-New skills development
-Do my job better
-Refresher training (personal development focused)

The top 3 key spend areas for training and development for 2015 – two thirds of training spend is going on soft skills development.
-Management development
-Personal Development
-Business skills (interpersonal, communication, professional effectiveness)

Evidencing a noticeable shift away from prioritising technical, product and company training; freeing up the budget for personal growth focus.

  • The most popular forms of training are enhanced and enabled with technology

eLearning and Blended Learning clear preferences among those surveyed, reinforced by some of the highest uptake figures when compared to anywhere in the world. A seismic shift in learning provision (content, method and mix) is happening across APAC right now.  Blended learning is accelerating at a higher rate than any other form of learning provision and online learning is now firmly in the mainstream.

 

The 4 Most popular forms of learning for 2015 (% of the learning population accessing any of the learning delivery methods)

 

2015 2014
Online (+) 59% 54%
Classroom (-) 58% 60%
Blended (+) 50% 43%
On the job coaching (+) 51% 50%

N.B. This is not the death knell for traditional face to face training. In fact our survey suggests that the human touch is more important now than ever. What is happening is that more appropriate technologies are truly enabling learning, offering real choice and far greater personalisation for organisations and individuals.

This enhanced learning solutions portfolio is providing multiple options for formal and informal learning and is ‘fit for purpose’ to support the accelerated rise of the blended preference.  More seamlessly mixing the human touch with relevant online options – appropriate for both organisational and learner needs.

  • HR / L&OD retaking the initiative and collaborating with Learners at pre GFC levels

 

Across all 6 measures within our survey concerning satisfaction with the role of HR / L&OD there has been a dramatic improvement based on feedback from the learner population. Another one of those seismic shifts seen through this survey.

 

The top 3 areas of satisfaction towards HR / L&OD in 2015:

1) Informs me of training opportunities (80% satisfaction 2015/ 66% satisfaction 2014)

2) Identifies skills I need for my role (75% satisfaction 2015/ 40% satisfaction 2014)

3) Helps me understand my changing job requirements (75% satisfaction 2015/ 33% satisfaction 2014)

This is all the more important as a measure for 2015 due to the previous surveys having evidenced a widening gap between the Learning Professionals and the rest of the workforce. Clearly, HR/L&OD has retaken the initiative – just in time – avoiding a potential learning crisis in many organisations.

 

As budgets have been fought for and freed up, the focus is back on a more collaborative approach to fulfil learner personal development and growth needs, versus the last few years of developmental void.  Learners are reacting very positively to this shift, as may be expected. Despite a near breakdown in relations over recent years, employees and managers are welcoming the new, bold leadership of the learning agenda within the HR / L&OD community. Progress is evident and momentum is key to build on this improvement.

 

HR / L&OD are baring their teeth and have found their voice again as champions of meaningful organisation learning. There is a way to go to truly reclaim the initiative post GFC but the indications are very positive. We are all the better for it.

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