November 10, 2023

Shift in employee training and development

Shift in employee training and development

Training formats have undergone a dramatic shift from classical in-person formats to technology supported trainings. This is how Christoph Meier from the “swiss competence centre for innovations in learning” (scil) at the University of St. Gallen, interprets the combined findings of the 2021 & 2022 industry survey by the Swiss Association for Continuing Education.  

The shift from classroom-based training to online training is here to stay

Mr. Meier presented the below graph in which he combined the results of the 2021 and 2022 surveys. Not surprisingly it shows an explosion of online training, and a collapse of in person offerings in 2020 – driven by restrictions enforce to counter the COVID pandemic. Whilst some of the in-person offering has come back since, in 2022 it is still only accounts for just over half of its share before the pandemic.

shift in further education formats

Fig 1. Further education formats – Source SVEB Industry Survey 2022 and 2021, combination by scil, translation Gravity Global AG

Given that, in many cases, providers simply changed the delivery mode from in-person to classroom training, without further modifying or adapting the content of the courses, it can be argued that the rebound is due, in part, to a lack of quality and substance of the online trainings delivered.

Classroom training may still have a place, but not for all topics

That said, there seems to be still a demand for in-person training. Mr. Meier points to another industry survey (in German) by the German Federal Association for Training and Development – The Wuppertaler Kreis e.V.. Their survey participants have been asked about their expectations as to what format certain trainings will be requested going forward. Respondents indicated that they expect the mode of training delivery depending on the topic area. In brought they expect that topics with a focus on social competencies will happen in an in-person setting, whereas subject matter expertise, industry knowledge or performance support will happen in an online setting.

Interestingly they expect employee onboarding to happen in equal parts online and in-person. It might be that this is expected due to the mixed content of employee onboarding, with a social component focusing on team integration, introduction to company culture, etc. and a more operational component with focus on introduction to systems and processes which can be delivered online.

Our take

The findings of these industry surveys match our experience with our customers. From our own surveys and feedback received from our customers, we know that the expectations of employees have grown when it comes to digital learning solutions. For one, many demand flexible working arrangements, also in a post pandemic world, increasing the need for online offerings. When it comes to onboarding and performance support, there appears to be a second, and possibly more profound, reason for increased expectations. Employees, as users of non-corporate apps, have become accustomed to being guided through processes at the time they need to complete them – for instance, their first transaction on a new banking app. This has created new expectations regarding their onboarding and performance support experience. Employees now expect to receive support as and when needed, rather than walking through a training course before they can start working. Driving the demand not only for online, but for individualized on demand training.  

Christoph Müller

Christoph Müller

For years I used corporate Intranets in the workplace, experiencing firsthand that traditional learning formats for IT rollouts and employee onboarding do not work. I developed GRAVITY software to tackle this challenge. Employees are happier because learning is simple and effective; businesses are happier because their IT rollouts are successful and cost a lot less than before.