10 years of Corporate Training

The trends of the 2010s have had a substantial impact on corporate training, also known as Learning & Development.  At the beginning of the decade, the world's economy was emerging from a deep recession, but as the decade progressed, economic expansion created a growing demand for a skilled workforce.  In such areas as digital economy skills, companies found it increasingly harder to find qualified job-seekers from outside, and they put greater importance on upskilling their existing employees.   As a consequence, EdTech (education technology) and e-learning have had to evolve to support the changing needs of corporate training.

Let's look at the changes over the last ten years.

Recovery Years

In 2010, L&D spending by companies began to recover from the recession of 2007-2009.  Both spending per learner (average $682) and training hours per learner (average 12.8) increased from the previous year.   Thirty percent of US companies spent money in 2010 on informal learning tools or services, such as YouTube videos.

However, McKinsey found that only 50 percent of organizations even bother to keep track of participants' feedback about training programs, and only 30 percent use any other kind of metric.  This lack of measurement meant that organizations had no clear idea of the return they were getting on their training budgets.

In 2011, US firms spent about $156 billion on employee learning, according to the American Society for Training and Development. But those firms don't follow up or perform in-depth assessments of their learning programs, and some research shows that employees lose up to 90% of new skills within a year.

eLearning Expands

In 2012, the Canadian company 1-800-Got-Junk invested in a training program for its managers to improve their performance appraisals of their employees.  The company sought a way to improve both business performance and employee morale by enabling managers to do a better job of identifying employee strengths and weaknesses and directing training resources to address those weaknesses.

In 2012, corporate training continued to expand, and along with it, eLearning grew.  The US training industry was estimated to be a $200 billion business, with $56 billion of that spent on eLearning.

In 2013, according to a Kineo study, over 41.7% percent of global Fortune 500 companies used some form of educational technology for training, and about 46% of college students were taking at least one course online.  As Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) rapidly expanded in 2013, corporations began to use them in their Learning & Development programs.

Expansion Puts a Spotlight on Corporate Training

In 2014, corporate training staff shifted their time allocation from creating and disseminating internally developed content (50 percent of their time in 2011) to 41 percent of their time. Some of that time was shifted to sourcing externally produced content and curating it into the company's learning portfolio.

By 2015, Deloitte's Global Human Capital Trends survey found 85 percent of respondents cited learning as "important" or "very important," up 21 percent from 2014. Yet only 28 percent of the respondents said that they were "ready" or "very ready" in the area of workforce capability. As the economy improved and the market for high-skill talent tightened, companies realized they could not simply recruit all the talent they needed, but had to develop it internally.

In 2015, Simplilearn committed to a fully-online blended learning approach, replacing its physical classroom instruction with live virtual classrooms (LVCs). This change allowed all Simplilearn's learners to benefit from the classroom component of instruction and personal learning support.

In 2016, Deloitte surveyed 700 business and HR professionals about their opinion of corporate training programs.  The group gave an average Net Promoter Score of -8.  While online training content continued to grow, many corporations continued to rely on Learning Management Systems (LMSs) with limited proprietary content and inflexible methodologies.

In 2017, the shift accelerated from LMSs to more flexible learning modes (including Simplilearn's online, blended learning).  Employees gained more control over whether to engage in micro-learning of specific skills or macro-learning of entire new skill sets.

Prioritize Employee Needs, Meet Company Needs

In 2018, LinkedIn found that 94 percent of employees said they would stay with a company longer if it invested in their career.  However, those employees also noted that the number one reason they feel held back from learning is a lack of time.

Corporate training expert Josh Bersin recommended a new paradigm he called "Learning in the Flow of Work." He drew the distinction between entertainment content and corporate learning content: "We don't want people to be 'addicted' to the learning platform, we want them to learn something, apply it, and then go back to work."

In 2019, LinkedIn's workplace learning report found that the two top priorities of corporate trainers were identifying and assessing skills gaps in their workforce and increasing learner engagement.  They used multiple methods to identify and assess skills gaps, including internal skills gap assessments, key business metrics, and KPIs, and polling executives and senior managers.  They also saw the need to adopt a marketing mindset to increase learner engagement with corporate training programs and resources.

Current Trends in Corporate Training

Now, in 2020, we can expect some significant changes in corporate training:

  • Virtual classrooms. The human element of education can be lost in online settings like MOOCs.  Virtual classrooms allow real-time student-instructor interaction as well as real-time interaction between students.  This element of connectedness improves learning outcomes and skills retention.
  • AR/VR. VR is a way to practice a skill before the employee applies it on the job. VR's use is expanding into many fields. Augmented reality also offers training benefits in a wide range of industries and applications.
  • Data analytics and personalization. Using data analytic tools, companies can calculate the actual ROI of their learning programs, which helps them plan strategically to maximize the returns on their training budgets. One of the biggest trends in corporate training is an individualized approach to training that allows employees to personalize their learning. Artificially intelligent content delivery that adapts to your employees' corporate training needs is also emerging as a way to personalize and individualize training.

Simplilearn's blended learning methodology combines these trends to provide high learner engagement at scale while providing in-depth data analytics and personalized learning paths.  This is an excellent training approach for corporate learning & development in large businesses with a geographically dispersed workforce.

Over the past decade, the evolution of corporate training has shifted from simple automation to focused programs to address skills gaps at both the employee and the corporate levels.  Simplilearn has kept pace with this evolution and even helped to shape it, and continues to offer comprehensive corporate training in digital economy skills. We expect the next ten years will bring amazing advances in corporate learning & development, and we will be there along the way to help companies upskill their workforces.

About the Author

Stuart CrequeStuart Creque

Stuart is a storyteller, with a foundation in technology, marketing, and management. He tells business stories in the form of content that means something to both external clients and internal team. He has written, produced and directed short films and written the feature film The Last Earth Girl.

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