Data seen as key for L&D still only small amount of businesses implementing it

Despite more than half of UK Learning & Development (L&D) leaders holding the view that the skills gap within their own company could be better addressed by the use of data, only a small amount of businesses views its use of data and insight in its learning strategy as ‘excellent’.

Research published by Knowledgepool, a provider of knowledge solutions found that 52 per cent believe the skills gap in their company could be reduced by better use of data. However, only 12 per cent, of L&D leaders regard their use of data and insight in learning strategy and delivery as ‘excellent’.

As well as 90 per cent viewing high quality data as important to improving learning delivery in their organisation. The rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and people working aside it can be work more efficiently with 91 per cent of business leaders believing learnability at all levels of their organisation as important in maximizing the benefits of a hybrid workforce (people and AI).

This is backed by 88 per cent saying that upskilling employees in new areas and emerging job categories is essential.

Still, not all businesses have adopted these methods, with 45 per cent of L&D leaders reporting that they only ‘sometimes’ use people data to inform their learning strategies and 55 per cent admitting that they only use learning data ‘sometimes’ to inform learning delivery and content.

Just over a third (35 per cent) of L&D leaders are confident they have full visibility of all learning investment across their business. More than a quarter (27 per cent) report that their organisation suffers from a lack of clarity and consistency in measuring return on investment (ROI) and learning outcomes.

This ROI percentage is worrying as 73 per cent of L&D leaders state that their departments are under heightened pressure from their wider organization to show the ROI of learning intervention and technology.

The main barriers to using data more effectively within learning is a lack of time and other priorities (35 per cent), a lack of analytical skills within the L&D team (31 per cent), poor quality data (27 per cent), outdated technology (26 per cent) and fragmented workforce and learning data (24 per cent).  Three quarters (75 per cent) of L&D leaders say that they need more support from vendors and partners to make use of data and insight in learning.

The vast majority (85 per cent)  hold the opinion that data and insight allow them to predict the future learning needs within the business and understand learning behaviours and patterns within the workforce.

Dan Ferrandino, managing director at Knowledgepool, said:

As effective learning becomes a critical priority for organisations, it’s essential that L&D departments are able to use data and insight to identify skills gaps, ensure learning delivery is aligned to overall business strategy and to measure and report the impact of all learning interventions and investment in terms of business outcomes. Currently, too many organisations are failing to draw any meaningful insight from their data, meaning that they are essentially ‘learning in the dark’, without any real idea of the impact that learning is having and certainly no way of improving.

By adopting a data-driven approach to learning, L&D leaders can make ongoing, lifetime learning an essential component of a future-looking employee proposition, and encourage a culture of learning to ensure their organisations are in a position to develop the skills they need as they transition to a hybrid workforce.

L&D data is seen to be an important factor when attracting Generation Z candidates to the business as well, as younger candidates see this as an important factor.

Mr Ferrandino said:

 Data and insight will transform the role, reputation and strategic contribution of the L&D department. Already we’re seeing the traditional, tactical metrics used in learning, such as attendance and utilisation, being replaced by genuine business-focused analytics in forward-thinking L&D departments. By tracking data sets across different parts of the business, businesses can now genuinely track the impact of learning on business-focused KPIs such as customer service and retention, workforce performance and productivity, and sales and revenue.

L&D leaders must find ways of overcoming the barriers to more effective use of data and insight, ensuring that they equip themselves and their teams with the tools, skills and vision to make the most of the data they have at their disposal. This means a laser focus on the key data points which will provide the genuine insight they need to deliver more personalised and relevant learning experiences, and to track, measure and optimise the impact of each and every learning intervention.

The research by Knowledgepool was based on interviews with 350 L&D leaders, 500 business leaders and more than 2,000 employees.

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