What Will Training Departments be doing in 2020?

Before recent times, the L&D/training department simply didn’t exist in organizations. Most people learned their jobs by apprenticing or by growing up to learn a trade from their family. After the industrial revolution, things changed. We needed large amounts of people doing the same thing the same way. Classrooms (which were the used for educating children) were recreated in factories, with the classroom subjects being how to do the tasks required in the factory. Now you know how classroom L&D/training got started.

L&D/training as we know it began to be formalized around the World War II as military organizations formalized instruction to train millions of soldiers. In many ways, we are still using training methods formulated during this time.

In the last 10 years, various forms of technology have begun to be used more and more heavily, with the goal of increasing access and reducing cost (some would say these goals have not been met).  The term e-learning (with various spellings) caught on and over time has become a popular method for delivering training.

Lately there’s been an increasing emphasis on social/informal learning and for good reason. Researchers who study informal learning place it at more than 50% to 80% of all workplace learning.

Jane Hart Founder, Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies (C4LPT) and The Social Learning Centre surveyed a small group of people and asked the question, “How important (useful or valuable) are the following ways for you?”(to learn best in the workplace.)

Training rated very low but collaborative working and self-study rated high. Any surprises?

If people learn primarily social/informally, certainly the role of the training department needs to change. In fact, numerous folks say it has already changed and most L&D/training departments simply haven’t bothered to notice, which may be why they have so little influence and poor outcomes.


  • eLearning development firm Epic asks, “As social learning grows does the requirement for traditional L&D/training departments shrink?” in its fourth E-learning Debate.
  • Harold Jarche  explains how many people are working in complex and chaotic environments where typical training doesn’t suffice in his post I come not to bury training, only to put it in its place. Jarche says that in these types of environments, “There is a growing need to help people be more creative and to solve complex problems, on a daily basis and in concert with others. Even the best training programmes cannot help here. Organizations (HR, L&D, OD, KM, etc) need to add significantly more thought and resources to enable people to learn socially, share cooperatively, and work collaboratively.”
  • Marcia Conner lists the Ten Skills for the Future Workforce from Skills Needed by 2020. How do we teach these skills? And more to the point, do most training practitioners even have these skills?



Come to this Chat2lrn to discuss what the training department of 2020 might look like!

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