How COVID-19 Has Affected Employee Skills Training: A Simplilearn Survey

The sudden onset of the COVID-19 global health crisis disrupted work patterns in companies worldwide.  One of the work areas most affected has been employee learning and development.  The mandate to move employees to working from home has made it impossible to provide in-person, classroom-based skills training.

To gain insights into the impacts of this abrupt halt to in-person training, Simplilearn conducted a survey regarding the effects that the pandemic is having on employee training programs.  Simplilearn asked professionals around the globe in the Learning & Development and Human Resources functions a series of questions on issues related to current and future employee training plans as a result of the pandemic.

While Simplilearn received survey responses from across the globe, the majority of responses came from representatives of companies located in India (39%) and the United States (41%).

Judging by the survey results, the effects of the pandemic look to be wide-ranging and long-lasting.  Many companies have had to implement or expand online business models to compensate for lockdown-related restrictions on doing business in person.  This has created an increased demand for digital skills training.

At the same time, lockdown-related restrictions have impacted how companies deliver skills training.  The survey results confirm that as work-from-home policies were implemented to slow the spread of COVID-19, organizations that had previously offered physical classroom skills training to their employees have moved those programs online. Moreover, the results indicate this shift has had little or no effect on the quality of employee skills training.

Key findings from the survey include:

  • Skills training had been a priority for companies before COVID-19. 

    93% of respondents said their companies offered skills training to their employees before the crisis.
  • Classroom training had been part of most pre-COVID training. 

    70% of respondents said that their training programs were either classroom-only or a combination of classroom and online components.
  • Classroom programs have moved online.  

    86% of respondents whose organizations offered physical classroom skills training to their employees prior to the pandemic have moved those training sessions to online platforms.

  • Online programs are equally or more effective than in-person classroom training. 

    82% of respondents whose organizations have moved employee skills training sessions online said the online sessions are at least as effective as classroom sessions. 13% rated the online training as more effective than classroom training.
  • Online training doesn’t have to mean online-only. 

    56% of respondents who use online training include a live online classroom component.  Only 44% use self-paced video courses with no live component.

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  • The move to online training looks like it will stick. 

    40% of respondents said their organizations anticipate making a permanent move to online training, compared to 18% who plan to revert back to physical classrooms (42% said ‘not sure’).
  • Digital skills training is important to most companies.

     Functional training offered to employees within the organizations who responded includes Digital Operations (66%), Technology/Software (64%), Digital Marketing (53%), and Artificial Intelligence/Data Science (45%).
  • The COVID crisis has shifted the digital skills that companies find important. 

    Functional training prioritized as a result of the pandemic includes Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (44%), Digital Marketing (42%), Cloud Computing (42%), and Cyber Security (40%).

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Simplilearn also asked a series of questions about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on general productivity, structuring work, and future training plans.  Our findings include:

  • The traditional office can be harmful to productivity. 

    52% of respondents said their employees have been more productive while working from home compared to before the pandemic, with 21% saying productivity has been unchanged.  Only 27% of respondents have seen productivity fall among employees working from home.

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  • The new structure of work will continue after lockdowns for many companies. 

    77% of respondents said their organizations are now considering permanent expansion of “work from home” flexibility for their employees.
  • The move to online business models impacts training plans. 

    76% of respondents said that -- as a result of the abrupt switch to digital-first business environments -- they expect their organizations to grow their employee skills development programs.
  • These training plans have yet to be reflected in training budgets. 

    Asked about employee skills training budgets before and during the pandemic, 8% said their budgets had increased, 34% said budgets had decreased, and 58% said they had stayed the same.

From these findings, it’s clear that the pandemic has increased the importance of, and demand for, digital skills training. It has made it imperative for companies to find ways to deliver skills training online.

Simplilearn provides training in digital economy skills for professionals and enterprises. We offer outcome-based online training across digital skills categories such as Big Data, Machine Learning, AI, Cloud Computing, Cyber Security, Digital Marketing, and other emerging technologies.

Simplilearn has provided skills training to over one million learners and more than 1,500 organizations over the past 10 years.  Our Blended Learning methodology combines live virtual classrooms, led by expert instructors, and self-paced learning modules.  Our platform also provides learners with hands-on labs and projects, requiring them to put the skills learned throughout their course into practical use, improving knowledge retention. Our Blended Learning methodology also makes online education more effective in that it offers learners the support and guidance of both instructors and mentors.

With Simplilearn digital skills training, you empower your workforce with the digital economy skills needed to meet the demands of a rapidly-evolving business environment.

About the Author

SimplilearnSimplilearn

Simplilearn is one of the world’s leading providers of online training for Digital Marketing, Cloud Computing, Project Management, Data Science, IT, Software Development, and many other emerging technologies.

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