UK companies depend on 'outdated' methods to train staff, finds CIPD/Cornerstone OnDemand survey

David Woods , 27 Apr 2012


UK employers rely on “outdated” to provide training to their staff, according to a new survey by the CIPD for HRD, its annual learning and talent development conference

The CIPD/Cornerstone OnDemand Learning and Talent Development Survey 2012, found traditional methods of workplace learning are considered amongst the least effective ways to up-skill employees - but still dominate the majority of learning and development programmes.

When asked to choose the most effective ways of delivering training, 16% of learning and talent development professionals opted for formal education courses, and the same number for coaching by external practitioners. Only 11% pointed to e-learning. But despite doubts about its effectiveness, less than a fifth (17%) of the report's respondents plan to reduce their reliance on classroom and trainer-led instruction over the next two years.

When asked what methods are most likely to work, most learning and development professionals pointed towards training that is integrated into the normal course of their jobs. Half of respondents (52%) responded that in-house development programmes were amongst the most effective ways of delivering training, while almost as many (46%) cited coaching by line managers. Two-fifths (39%) pointed towards on-the-job training.

The report also revealed a third of public sector organisations anticipate greater use of e-learning across the organisation over the next two years, compared with a fifth of other organisations.

Fewer organisations than last year report they undertake talent management activities. In two-fifths of organisations, talent management activities cover all or most employees, but most focus on high-potential employees and senior managers. Two-fifths of organisations also said innovation and creativity are critical to their organisation and that everyone is involved.

Half of organisations report that their economic circumstances have declined in the past twelve months, rising to three-quarters in the public sector. And the median annual training budget per employee was £276, less than last year's figure of £350. The median number of training hours employees receive per year was 24, again a reduction on last year.

John McGurk, learning and talent development adviser at CIPD, said: "Many of the learning approaches used by organisations are legacies of a learning environment where the classroom, courses and 'sheep-dip' learning were the order of the day. However in today's environment, the skills of continuous collaborative and connective learning are paramount. Even compliance learning and advanced skills learning needs to be re-thought with the advent of gaming and simulation. We need to take into account how generations learn and share knowledge and we need to understand anew the process of learning and knowledge. We need to lift our awareness of the emerging science on learning and in some cases we need to slaughter some of the sacred cows which have informed practice. Quick evaluation will become even more critical in this environment as will a fusion of coaching, leadership and change management. L&TD professionals need to lead the debate, and need to take a different perspective calling on their own resourcefulness and creativity to push learning in new directions."

Vincent Belliveau, general manager EMEA, Cornerstone OnDemand, added: "When it comes to investing in L&D, it's critical that organisations understand their people and the learning approaches that suit them best to meet their needs. By doing so, they'll get the best return on investment as employees will be more engaged in the learning and transfer the skills into their day-to-day activities, which will ultimately support the business and its bottom line.

"It's vital that organisations don't take a 'training for trainings sake' attitude but instead adopt approaches which are known to be effective ways of delivering training. It's also important that this investment can be measured, so that they can align training with business objectives. The effects of a well thought-out learning strategy can be widely felt throughout an organisation, with employee engagement, job satisfaction and retention benefiting."


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Its time to reinvent the wheel?

Mark Barlow 27 Apr 2012

Today, streaming video is being used for social networking (YouTube), consumer/product advertising and internal comms, why not use it for delivering 24/7 user training?There's a thought - 24/7, single click, presenter based training in any language streamed to any internet connected device anywhere in the World. Perfect? - not quite....What about then embedding that training content directly into your software application for instant access. Once done, watch user adoption grow in real time and you will deliver a rapid ROI on your investment and positivelt impact your organisations bottom line. Training today can be effective, you just have to start to think out of the box! Check out AppLearn at


Jon Ingham, Strategic HCM 27 Apr 2012

This is what Mike and I were saying last week too.

Oudated training methods

Tom Brown 09 May 2012

Intereseting and relevant topic. I am less concerned with the delivery mechanism and more concerned with learning and sustainablity of the learning. Delivery, by whatever means, needs to engage and motivate learners and this needs to extend beyond the actual delivery. In my experienece of 35 years or so managing, teaching, coaching and mentoring people I have found that very few line managers can coach effectively and too many organisations believe that it is the responsibility of the training provider to make the training work. At the risk of using a hackneyed cliche training and development should be a three way partnership beween learner, the organisation and the provider. Oh and lest it be forgotten - because it often is - trainers and coaches must have a real passion for people. Obvious but often elusive!

It depends...

Rachel Puttick 04 Jun 2012

The success of so called 'traditional' training methods surely depends on the skills of the trainer?

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