Will self-directed training shape the future workforce?

Samantha Caine

Blog post by Samantha Caine

Samantha Caine, is the Client Services Director at Business Linked Teams and has over 20 years experience working as a strategic training and recruitment expert for a variety of international businesses. She works with organisations to develop interactive, training solutions and oversees the implementation of global sales and leadership programmes that are aligned with leading edge thinking from across the world


4th June 2018

As featured in The HR Director

Emerging technologies and trends are making it far easier for businesses to maintain agile workforces. From smartphone-based training apps to virtual classrooms and distance learning solutions, all have brought the opportunity to strengthen workforces with consistent, effective training within even the most dispersed global organisations.

Combined with the growing global trend of remote working, it could be possible that these trends will yield a movement in self-directed employee training. With employees able to work from anywhere, it’s entirely plausible for them to train from anywhere too, finding time to fit in training as and when it suits them. But does this mean that employers will hand employees full responsibility of their own training?

The delivery methods of training are changing and making learning even more accessible than before.  This means that businesses are much more able to ‘push’ development opportunities at their workers and in turn employees will be expected to act upon these opportunities.

In the past, organisations were largely reliant on traditional approaches such as registers and feedback forms to track employee development, but with the advent of e-learning, electronic materials and HR / LMS systems to store and track data and distribute training content, an employees’ learning journey has changed.

At the same time, many organisations have recognised the need to extend the traditional learning journey in terms of ensuring there are many different stages to a learning experience. As these changes take place, employees will need to take much more responsibility for completing the various activities that are provided for them to learn. They will also need to make sure that they are linking back to whichever system is enabling their development.

For example, in the past pre-reading would have been distributed prior to a face to face training session and most likely not reviewed again until the training itself. As the way we deliver training changes, it’s much more likely that nowadays pre-reading will be sent electronically, supported by online questions and quizzes for the participant to complete and then submit before the workshop has even started.

As businesses shift to using e-learning solutions, they must ensure that they are providing workforces with a blended learning approach that promotes collaboration, shared experiences and stronger relationships within the business alongside self-study that can be done online.

A healthy mixture of individual online learning and face to face group learning is essential to the business’ ability to function as a collaborative and communicative entity with a shared vision rather than a poorly connected collection of individuals working towards their own individual goals.

Driving employee engagement on any e-learning platform requires a tailored approach that is adapted for each individual team or individual and their own specific business challenges. The content should centre around the business-directed learning objectives, but will appeal to each employee by recognising their own challenges specific to their own roles within the business.

Remote learning solutions that do not offer a blended approach will yield far less engagement because study that takes place solely online without any form of collaboration or face to face interaction only leads to isolationism, which is also a pitfall of remote working in general. Regular face to face group activities are essential to both the success of a remote learning programme and the continued success of any business allowing its employees to work remotely.

Ultimately, workplace training is going to become much more intense and easier for organisations to get training in all of its forms out to their employees and to track their progress. The knock-on impact is going to be that employees will have to participate in training in more bitesize chunks and their training and progress will therefore become much easier to track and measure.

In the future, employee learning will not necessarily become more self-directed, but the learner will need to become increasingly responsible for their own development within a framework provided by the employer.