Transformation, Skills Push L&D Efforts, But Managers Hang Back

Learning Circle

Learning and development efforts are moving higher on the corporate priority list, pushed by the pace of business, concerns about transformation and the skills gap. At the same time, line managers often resist training efforts because they don’t want employees to miss work.

A report from the IT trade association CompTIA found that implementing new and/or better approaches to training and professional development is HR’s No. 1 priority over the next 12 months. Following it are efforts to better identify and address employee skills gaps, implementing new talent acquisition tools, and improving processes for managing a blended workforce. (Modernizing or upgrading HR management systems was the seventh priority.)

L&D efforts move higher on employer priority list, but front-line managers still act as a brake. #HR #HRTech @CompTIA Click To Tweet

Most of the L&D leaders surveyed believe they can contribute to their company’s strategic direction, although not all of them feel their organization is open to the possibility. A “significant minority” feel they lack the support from both C-suite and front-line managers.

Overall, two-thirds of HR professionals said L&D was “mostly” or “somewhat” a strategic priority. Only 6 percent said it was some kind of cost center. But interestingly, older HR professionals were more likely to see L&D as strategic, 35 percent compared to 22 percent of their younger colleagues.  

‘Uneven’ Support for L&D Efforts

More than a quarter, 26 percent, said lack of leadership buy-in was a reason for uneven L&D support. That lack of support was an even bigger issue—cited by 32 percent—for organizations that reported a significant skills gap.

L&D teams face resistance on the ground, as well. Thirty-five percent of those surveyed said they face “manager opposition to employees missing work to participate in training.” As the report noted: “Some employers bemoan skills gaps, while simultaneously contributing to them by failing to support staff training efforts.”

The report didn’t find a strong trend of either increasing or decreasing learning budgets. For example, it said a study by LinkedIn said spending on L&D was up, while Training Magazine said it was down.

One reason for this, CompTIA speculated, is that organizations aren’t sure whether reskilling and upskilling are more effective in addressing skills gaps than is hiring for skills. Concerns about the economy are also at work, the report said.

CompTIA’s report, Workforce and Learning Trends 2020, was based on a survey of 400 U.S. HR and learning and development professionals across a range of industries and company sizes.

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