- Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, tech-based learning methods were rising sharply in popularity, according to the Association for Talent Development's (ATD) 2020 State of the Industry report, released Dec. 9. More than half of all learning hours recorded in 2019 were via a tech platform, the highest percentage ever recorded for the report.
- Organizational spend and formal learning hours both increased in 2019 from prior years, ATD said. The average organization spent $1,308 per employee on L&D and employees averaged 34.7 hours of formal learning, the equivalent of about four eight-hour workdays.
- Other noted trends included the continued use of smartphones and tablets to access learning materials and continued emphasis on on-the-job learning. The top focus for learning in 2019 was managerial and supervisory training.
While the results of ATD's study reflected on 2019, it may hint toward trends a tumultuous 2020 pushed even further. Learning technology, in particular, saw a banner year since many employees had to work and train remotely due to lockdown orders. The shift troubled some employers, experts told HR Dive, in part because many organizations still delivered their "most important training" in person because of the belief that it was more effective. Building a thoughtful online learning suite may be key to adaptation, however, and sources told HR Dive that the pandemic accelerated learning tech adoption trends.
"We know that nearly 85% of L&D functions have shifted their in-person training to virtual, and they have had to make significant changes to all of their programs and offerings — including onboarding, manager development, and HIPO and leadership programs," Sari Wilde, managing vice president in Gartner's HR practice, previously told HR Dive via email.
Demand for online learning, generally, "increased exponentially" in the first weeks of the pandemic, an April Cornerstone Institute for People Development survey revealed.
The pandemic also pushed L&D into a more strategic role overall, as training employees to fill skills gaps became even more of a priority for organizations compared to prior to the pandemic, a May LinkedIn survey showed.