March 24 2022

An L&D Revolution [Thanks to COVID]

Article updated March 2022

You may have read the title and thought; No way, COVID-19 has only been negative for the world. Right? Tell that to bicycle shops all over Europe. [Editor note: Numbers from the UK Bicycle Association’s market data service reveal that, between April and June 2020, bicycle sales increased by 63% year-on-year.]

The old saying goes, every cloud has a silver lining, and yes this does sound flippant considering that as of 16 August 2020, approximately 9.6 million jobs, from 1.2 million different employers were furloughed in the United Kingdom as part of the government's job retention scheme. [Source:]

However, (and I may need to whisper this), there are some positives to take from 2020. It has forced the L&D world to…  

Innovate & curate

It’s absolutely clear that there are financial pressures on organisations, which might mean budget cuts, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we can’t innovate. Organisations are beginning to do many innovative things because of the pressure they are under with reduced budgets, and I think we should look for the positives in this.

David Collings, professor of human resources at Dublin City University (DCU), says L&D has adapted to leaner times by valuing content curation over content creation. Offering insight into ongoing DCU research, Collings reports that when HR leaders were asked what they needed for the future, “they spoke about the importance of the curation of online content. Not so much the generation of it, but helping colleagues navigate the content that was out there and identify content most suited to their needs.”

Think of making use of YouTube, Ted Talks, LinkedIn Learning and free videos. L&D teams must go out into social platforms more to find out what’s available to support staff. Coronavirus has moved the classroom online and this is something we here at CWL have seen in recent months, with a noticeable increase in demand for our digital learning courses.

Stay nimble

It’s good to make detailed, specific plans, but those plans should include a series of reflect-and-adapt moments where it is not only accepted but expected that things will change based on what’s happened so far. Rather than plan a year’s worth of learning content in advance, maybe curate a few weeks’ worth, see how that works, and use what you learn to plan a few more.

Soft skills

Here at CWL, we have been receiving lots more requests for soft skills training focusing on wellbeing and manager training as well as enquiries on “remote managing, collaborative working and digital skills”, than before coronavirus hit.

Softer skills may have become more important in the crisis – but they have always been important skills that underpin organisations and they will only become more so. The need for productivity and performance is at the core of every organisation, and we know that soft skills underpin effective team working.

Distance learning needs distance learning pedagogy

As more and more employees have been forced to work from home in 2020, this has driven demand for courses which are designed to support people through the process of remote working, and there’s a whole range of skills people need to learn to work effectively in that environment.

Good pedagogical practices are crucial to encourage learners to engage in online learning. That includes things like well-structured interactive lessons with frequent checks for understanding, and meeting needs of individual learners.


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