L&D budgets grow to facilitate future skills needs

Learning and development teams expect to play a more strategic role in workforce planning this year, with the “decreasing shelf-life of skills” among their biggest priorities, according to LinkedIn.

As skills gaps widen and the labour market gets tighter, LinkedIn says L&D teams’ role in workforce planning and strategy has helped them receive larger budgets from business leaders.

The 2019 Workplace Learning & Development Report, which polled 1,200 L&D professionals and HR staff with L&D responsibilities, found that budget constraints are no longer a major challenge for L&D teams. Only 27% were hamstrung by limited budgets, compared with 32% in 2018 and 49% in 2017.

Forty-three per cent said their talent development budget is increasing, compared with 35% last year and 27% in 2017.

Among those in Europe, 81% said their executives and senior leaders are actively supporting employee learning, which is perhaps translating into larger budgets.

Jeff Matthews, head of LinkedIn Learning EMEA, said: “The opening up of budgets has left the learning and development profession at a tipping point.

“This transformation comes at a critical time. As the war for talent rages harder than ever before and demand for certain skills is at an all-time high, businesses are recognising the crucial role L&D plays in identifying and bridging skills gaps and giving them that all-important competitive edge.”

The three most pressing issues for European L&D teams are identifying skills gaps, increasing engagement with learning programmes and developing career frameworks.

The LinkedIn report found that creativity is the most in-demand skill for organisations, closely followed by skills such as persuasion and analytical reasoning.

Soft skills training is ranked as one of the top five areas for focus, with two-thirds of L&D professionals saying that helping current employees gain these will be a measure of their success.

Increasing learner engagement is also a priority. On average, those with L&D responsibilities spend just 15% of their time promoting the programmes on offer, despite LinkedIn  suggesting that getting attention from modern learners requires more outreach and high-impact marketing strategies.

It recommended that L&D teams make use of their internal marketing functions to promote learning opportunities. Fifty-five per cent of employees in Europe discovered their employer’s learning programmes via email marketing, while 42% found them through promotion by managers and senior leaders.

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