How Learning is Leading the Business of Today


Written by:

Steve McNally
Industry Editor
Business News Wales


In the autumn of 2019, LinkedIn published a widely acclaimed white paper on the ‘learning revolution’ driving modern-day organisations.

As befits a global business community built on data and owned by Microsoft, the LinkedIn report showed an exponential move towards elearning and virtual learning, in deep detail, all pointing to a fast-evolving blended learning model that balances cost and operational effectiveness with the opportunity to deliver ongoing performance improvement and measurable results.

Cardiff Tech Hub

Then COVID-19 hit. And learning something new suddenly became the new way of things for most workforces and organisations, with particular long-lasting implications for the way people lead, manage and work in a team.

The past six months has made that LinkedIn report, with its emphasis on self-directive and bite-sized training, seem even more prescient. In fact, it could be argued that Learning is now the central driver in many organisations. So how is this revolution shaping the Welsh workplace and economy?

“Let’s not leave anyone behind and let’s bridge the gap through learning…”

Lesley Richards, Head of CIPD Wales, says that members are reporting an increased use of technology to support training in response to the challenges of skills development during the pandemic, but points out:

“The picture is quite complex. With multi-generational workforces being more common, organisations need to accommodate different learning styles. This was already apparent during the digital acceleration pre-pandemic.  The way forward, in all training and development, is through fostering a culture of supportive learning. That’s perhaps the most important thing for Wales right now – there’s clearly a disconnect between the fast-growth areas such as Fintech, Insurtech and Biotech and the less dynamic but equally important ‘mature sectors’. Let’s not leave anyone behind and let’s bridge that gap through learning. Without engagement there can be no learning…”

James Dalton, Head of Learning & Engagement at PeopleStory, concurs with Lesley.

“The LinkedIn report confirmed what many of us could see happening across the learningscape. But ultimately, people will only learn if you enable them to learn,” says James. “That’s partly to do with individual motivation of course, but it also means tailoring the story so that it’s clear, understandable and able to inspire change in personal actions and working methods. Without engagement there can be no learning – so designing the training narrative and delivery to have real impact is absolutely critical if you genuinely want to empower your people to ‘be’ the change. A learning strategy is about listening as well as actioning…”

For David Frost, Organisational Development Director at global food enterprise Total Produce plc, any Learning initiative has to be rooted in an organisation’s wider emotional contract with the employee. David says:

“It’s important that our training and development programmes align with a listening strategy for employees and the long-term strategic aims of the business. Tactical initiatives have their place of course – the world doesn’t move in a straight line – but keeping everything joined up, connected to the vision, is an important part of framing the learning experience so that everyone understands what’s expected and can see the value in it. It’s a real opportunity for everyone to benefit…”

Wayne Hutt, Skills Superstar at RS components, works externally and internally with stakeholders of the global electronics company – and sees learning as more than a matrix or set of verticals. He says:

“We view people development as a continual journey for us, our employees, our customers and the communities in which we serve. It’s a real opportunity for everyone to benefit. That inevitably means a blend of ‘always-on’ programmes, as well as a highly personalised training that can nudge or even radically transform the way people work and perform – but the key to me in all this is to keep a human finger on the pulse. We achieve through everyone or not at all, so we have a duty to continually assess the impact our learning has on everyone connected to our company. Sustainable success for the employee and organisation…”

Those in-the-field experts I spoke with clearly believe that the bigger picture for all learning is to help individuals, teams and organisations achieve their full potential – and in that context perhaps the last words belong to Paul Evans, COO of Cardiff-based Box UK, who sees the COVID-19 catalyst as a potential positive for many, helping people achieve a better life balance while working in a more efficient way.

Paul says:

“We can now see the power of distributed working, rather than just remote working – where people can interact both digitally and in a physical sense. This new world of work brings so many opportunities for people who can upskill and reskill; and that’s the key: placing training and development in its rightful place for the long-term and sustainable success of both the employee and the organisation.”