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How to ensure you get ROI from training

Posted on by from Open University

Investment in L&D is ever more important for businesses as it has become increasingly more difficult to find the right talent amid a worsening skills crisis. But how can you ensure you get value for money?

Now, 71% of businesses which have over 250 employees are unable to fill a vacancy due to a lack of appropriately skilled applicants, and 31% of roles in the UK economy are filled with people whose qualifications do not fit the requirements of the job. Yet turning to training can be a hard sell for decision makers as often they are concerned about return on investment from this option.

The UK economy has long benefited from the high quality education offered by Britain’s world-leading higher education sector. Yet despite this rich heritage, traditional educational options are not aligned to business needs. Investing in full-time education for an employee for periods of 12 months or more is not always an attractive business proposition. The return on investment from this kind of training is often only available in the medium or long-term. For businesses experiencing the difficulties of lack of correctly skilled workers, the best solution will be able to deliver a more immediate return.

Modular options can help plug skills gaps quickly

A flexible modular approach to education courses means that you can invest in L&D options that are directly relevant to a particular challenge your business is experiencing at the time, without investing time and money into irrelevant topics. The advantage of short, modular options is that they offer a much more immediate solution to gaps in skills. This model enables employees to remain more closely engaged with their work environment, rather than becoming disengaged through long periods spent away.

Education technology allows flexible learning

The flexibility afforded by advances in education technology allows a learner to access materials whenever, and wherever, it suits them. For many, this means that they can study part-time whilst in work, fitting the course around their full-time job. Unlike traditional training options, the flexibility of delivery which is offered through technology gives employers the benefit of their employees’ time in work, and employees can continue earning while learning. 

Personalisation of learning is becoming increasingly sophisticated. For instance, learning analytics uses data in a similar way to web analytics, developing individual profiling to reveal patterns in learning, enabling educators to improve student experience. Adaptive learning technologies apply learning analytics through online platforms, adjusting to individual students’ needs. Analytics are also being used to inform course design, shifting attention away from content and towards learning outcomes. In these and other ways, technology is not simply broadening access to L&D, but also building better pedagogies so that training is more effective for individual learners. 

Practice-based solutions link learning with work

Your organisaton can specifically benefit from the possibility of combining learning with work. Practice-based options encourage learners to directly apply the academic theory of their course to the practical situations in which they are working. Learners will have the satisfaction of implementing their new knowledge straight away, further cementing new skills by immediately putting them into practice. If you're concerned that you will not see the return on your investment in L&D, these options offer the reassurance that what employees learn will be directly applicable to their work environment. 

As there continues to be a notable mismatch between the skills available in the job market and the business demand for certain skills, the cost of not developing employees could constitute an expensive mistake. HR professionals struggling to convince decision makers that investment in training will deliver substantial return on investment can now look to a wider range of options, designed to specifically add value to businesses – in the short and long-term. 

Steve  Hill

By Steve Hill

Steve is director of external engagement at The Open University with responsibility for strengthening links between business and education in order to boost skills provision in the UK. Steve is an Open University graduate, who as an employer in the business world regularly sponsored employees to take training courses.

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