Why I think learning and development are going to be huge

Coaching, mentoring, training and development are set to become more important to organizations

Why I think learning and development are going to be huge
Brian Kreissl

By Brian Kreissl

Many readers will no doubt be aware of a recurring theme I have been covering over the past few years with respect to employers having cut their training budgets and expecting instead to fill their talent needs mainly or entirely through recruitment. Rather than being willing to hire candidates with potential, training them and allowing them to learn on the job, many employers have instead insisted on holding out for proverbial “purple squirrel” candidates with all of the skills, competencies, education and experience deemed necessary for the role.

As a result, many vacancies stay open for months on end or are reposted every few months for several years. In many cases, people who lack one or two of the “necessary” skills could have been on the job learning the role through on-the-job learning, classroom training and other types of learning interventions.

No one 100 per cent effective on day one

In the end, it may even be cheaper and easier to recognize that no one may actually be available with all of the necessary qualifications and experience (at least not at the compensation levels offered), and instead be willing to find someone who has the potential to learn the ropes while becoming increasingly proficient in the role. No one is going to be 100 per cent efficient and effective on day one, and even someone who held the exact same job and title at a direct competitor has new rules, policies, norms, tools and technologies to learn, and must be socialized into a new and different organizational culture before becoming completely proficient.

There are several reasons behind this phenomenon including employers not being willing to provide meaningful training and development due to budget cuts, overzealous hiring managers (and even recruiters at times), companies not willing to pay the market rate for talent, the desire to weed out a large number of unqualified applicants, and overly restrictive algorithms and overreliance on the technology when using applicant tracking systems (ATSs). But aside from this problem – and a growing realization that organizations will need to start providing meaningful training and development to combat perceived skills shortages – there are other reasons why I believe the learning and development (L&D) function is poised for major growth in the coming years.

Coaching, building ‘bench strength’ and dealing with skills shortages

Now that baby boomers are starting to retire from the workforce in fairly significant numbers, organizations are going to have to start grooming younger people to step into senior leadership roles as many of the boomers currently occupying those positions leave the organization. In many companies, very few suitable succession candidates are available internally, with the result that they have to hire external candidates to fill those vacancies.

There are several problems with this approach, not least of which is that with large numbers of boomer leaders leaving the workforce and many other organizations not having paid sufficient attention to succession planning either, top talent that is ready to step into senior leadership roles may also be in short supply in the external market. One significant problem is failing to build sufficient “bench strength” through leadership development, coaching and mentoring programs or development opportunities such as secondments, special projects, temporary assignments and stretch assignments.

The implications for the L&D function are fairly obvious since it may suddenly become imperative for organizations to build their bench strength internally. Aside from traditional management training programs, L&D practitioners may be called upon to develop coaching and mentoring programs to help new and aspiring leaders obtain the soft skills and competencies necessary for success.

There are also concerns that colleges and universities may not be equipping graduates with the right skills necessary for success in the workplace. With skills shortages, technology continually advancing and workers requiring retraining, providing in-house technical training may increasingly be necessary. Because of that, I believe corporate training departments may be called upon to fill the void to a large extent.

Curating organizational knowledge

Another problem with so many boomers leaving organizations is the fact that a tremendous amount of organizational knowledge is literally walking out the door. Because of that, knowledge needs to be captured, documented, curated and transferred to the next generation of employees.

This provides L&D practitioners with the opportunity to implement knowledge management solutions in organizations and work with retiring leaders to transfer their knowledge to younger workers through various programs.

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