UK organisations could be wasting an estimated £9.5bn on training each year, according to a new study from KnowledgePool, the managed learning specialist, which finds that a quarter of all training fails to yield a significant performance improvement.
In a three-year evaluation study, KnowledgePool has analysed the ‘learning outcomes’ of over 10,000 learners by questioning them, and their line managers, on the transfer of learning to the workplace and performance improvement.
The results show that 69 percent of learners use what they learn and experience significant performance improvement. A further six percent of learners don’t use what they learn, yet they experience performance improvement anyway. However nine percent of learners use what they learn, but their learning does not lead to significant performance improvement, and 16 percent don’t use what they learn and don’t experience performance improvement either.
“By combining the nine percent and the 16 percent, we get 25 percent, so we can conclude that a quarter of all training fails to deliver a significant performance improvement,” said Kevin Lovell, Learning Strategy Director at KnowledgePool. “Figures from the Learning and Skills Council* show that UK organisations spend around £38bn on training annually, so that means they could be wasting £9.5bn of training investment each year.”
KnowledgePool’s study highlights four reasons why learners are unable to convert their learning into performance improvement: lack of support from their line manager; they attend courses that are ill-suited to their needs; they attend courses when they know they will not use what they learn and ‘bad timing’ (either the work requirement came and went before the training took place or they’d forgotten what they had learned before they had the chance to apply it).
“Organisations should encourage line managers both to work closely with Learning & Development teams, to ensure training is properly targeted, and to help learners apply what they learn,” said Kevin Lovell. “When learners do receive line manager support, 94 percent go on to apply what they learned. There’s a positive correlation between the transfer of learning to the workplace, line manager support and performance improvement. Sadly, too many line managers assume that when the training finishes, that’s the end of the process.”
Lovell also recommends that organisations should capture and analyse post-training data.
“If you don’t gather data on the impact of the training back in the workplace, you won’t know what’s working or not working,” he said. “The data can help you to spot trends in particular courses, or specific areas of your business, and target areas of concern. By taking action, British companies can enhance the performance of their learners and gain 25 percent more value from their learning spend.”