A Great Time to be in Training by Jo Coulson

Having been in the L&D field for more years than I readily admit, I have lived through numerous upturns and downturns — not to mention a few circular turns — in this industry. And I am quite confident in my observation that training is a leading economic indicator. During growth periods, the training department is fully staffed and well-funded, but at the first sign of an economic downturn, the training staff is one of the first groups displaced. To a great degree, this pattern still rings true, and we are beginning to see more opportunities for the training community. But this time, something is different.

Training departments are getting busy again — very busy. Projects are coming at them at an incredible pace and they are struggling to keep up with the pent-up demand. Yet companies are still reluctant to take on the fixed costs of a permanent staff. I believe this is not just an economic decision, however. I think it’s a strategic decision. What’s changed?

The Talent Demand: The training organization of today requires people with talents and skills across a broad range of expertise. Unfortunately, the skills requirements fluctuate more than ever before based on both demand and timing. Training departments must be fluid and dynamic — not static.

Speed to Market: Today’s companies are driven by a need to take their products or services to market quickly. As a result, training departments must reduce their production time as well.

Virtual Workplace: The virtual workplace allows us to access the talents and skills of the training professional without restriction of geography. It also allows for a 24/7 approach to projects. As an instructional designer sleeps, a SME many time zones away is reviewing content.

Cost Reduction: We are smarter and more-efficient with our resources on behalf of our clients. We are learning to manage the ebb and flow of training more efficiently. And let’s face it: The bottom line is the bottom line.

A New Model: For both learning leaders internal to organizations and those who are external consultants, we need to rethink our service models if we are to provide creative solutions for our client’s knowledge and skill gap challenges. The good news message, however, is this: After some pretty dire years, it’s a great time to be in training!