The Global Workplace Presents Challenges for Learning and Development

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New research from ASTD indentifies trends in training a global workforce.

ASTD is the world's largest association dedicated to the training and development field.

The research shows that there is much more to global learning and development than simply delivering training to employees in regions outside an organization’s headquarters.

As business becomes increasingly global, organizations are facing the challenge of training a workforce dispersed around the world. In a recent survey only 32 percent of learning professionals indicated that global learning initiatives have been successful to a high or very high extent. This is one of the compelling findings in the new research report "The Global Workplace: Learning beyond Borders" from ASTD and the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp), sponsored by the International Coach Federation.

The research shows that there is much more to global learning and development than simply delivering training to employees in regions outside an organization’s headquarters. Many considerations must be taken into account including resources, government issues, cultural concerns, organizational design, and delivery approaches.

The research is based on input from 637 respondents, half of whom reported that their organizations are currently offering global learning or planning to do so within three years. Key findings include

  • Every region of the world, without exception, poses challenges.
  • Among the top challenges faced with global learning programs, respondents cited language, translations, and cost in that order, followed by budget and time zone differences. Both high- and low-performing organizations shared many of the same challenges with little variation.
  • More subtle challenges range from multifaceted cultural divides to resistance to change. Various legal requirements and work practices can differ widely from one country to another, presenting obvious barriers for a single process approach to learning and development.
  • Organizations are grappling with issues such as deficient technological infrastructure and capability in some regions of the world; emerging economies pose common challenges tied to high demand but limited resources.

The report also includes recommendations from learning practitioners who took part in the launch of global learning programs. Some recommendations include:

  • Hire locally in the region where the organization needs to deliver learning and development.
  • To help the business grow, start training as soon as people are hired; don’t wait for a certain number to be hired to begin.
  • Assess facilities and the number of learning staff.
  • Create a global budget.
  • Align learning to the business audience and the organization’s goals.

The complete report "The Global Workplace: Learning Beyond Borders" is available from ASTD on the ASTD Store.

About ASTD

ASTD (American Society for Training & Development) is the world’s largest professional association dedicated to the training and development field. In more than 100 countries, ASTD’s members work in organizations of all sizes, in the private and public sectors, as independent consultants, and as suppliers. Members connect locally in more than 120 U.S. chapters and with 20 international partners. ASTD started in 1943 and in recent years has widened the profession’s focus to align learning and performance to organizational results, and is a sought-after voice on critical public policy issues. For more information, visit http://www.astd.org.

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Kristen Fyfe
ASTD
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