(PRWEB UK) 12 November 2013
In the same week that the official GDP figures for 2013 Q3 bring good news on UK economic output, West Midlands based, international training consultancy Righttrack celebrate their 25th year in business. With healthy Q3 figures reporting UK sales up 74% on the average of the last four years, Kasmin Cooney OBE, Managing Director at Righttrack Consultancy reflects on recent trends in Learning & Development and how they might impact the future of training.
It has not been an easy ride for any organisation since the financial crisis. Businesses have had to batten down the hatches and hold on tight as the first recession of this millennium tore through the UK leaving in its wake a record number of corporate insolvencies and administrators knocking on the doors of a number of high-street giants. But for those of us who have ridden recessionary storms before, it has been interesting to watch as businesses adopted tactics different to those employed in the early 90s. As a company specialising in bespoke soft skills training for organisations across all sectors, Righttrack Consultancy has had a front row seat.
Kasmin Cooney, OBE says, “We work very closely with every one of our customers to truly understand the strategy and culture of their organisation before we start on the design and implementation of a bespoke training solution. Not only has our approach faired us well in a time when stakeholders are demanding proof of ROI, but it’s given us lots of insight into how all sorts of organisations from around the globe have reacted to the economic downturn.
“Certainly amongst our clients, there seems to have been more creativity in terms of restructuring, rather than just throwing people out. Organisations have been keener to freeze or reduce salary increases in order to keep their people. During the last recession redundancy seemed like the first solution, this time around it has seemed like the last.”
The Office for National Statistics confirms that between March 2008 and March 2010 employment levels fell to their lowest levels since 1996, but not as low as seen in previous recessions. However, this has only meant a sharp intake of breath and belt-tightening elsewhere.
“Training budgets were very badly affected in the UK following the banking collapse of 2008. Having said that, as the recession deepened over 2009 and 2010, companies were still looking at developing their staff, only there was a dramatic change in focus.”
A survey by the Institute of Directors reported that there had been a shift away from ‘investment’ training towards ‘essential’ training in nearly half of organisations.
Kasmin Cooney commented, “At Righttrack we saw a sharp increase in people talking to us about how to improve customer service. Organisations were quick to realise that if they were to stand out from competitors they needed to pull their socks up, all the way. When hard times hit, customer loyalty is destabilised. People become fixated on getting a bigger bang for their buck.
“Management & Leadership training on the other hand, particularly for middle and senior managers seemed to disappear, until very recently.”
As more and more organisations begin to feel the warmth on their backs and unfurl from protective positions, the impact of not training managers and leaders is exposed and the Learning & Development industry has started to see an increase in management development.
“I’ve recently done an interview for Forbes.com. The subject they wanted to explore was Leadership. Now it’s not a revolutionary topic but it will always be relevant. Managers will always need the skills to be a better leader or to understand how best to manage talent. They will continue to debate about whether a good leader is the result of nature or nurture long after I am out of the training game.”
As thought-leaders in the Learning & Development industry continue to push the envelope there will be a shift in focus from more traditional training techniques and subjects to cutting edge technologies and concepts.
“25 years ago when I set up Righttrack, we were asked for training programmes like Assertiveness for Women, Empowerment and lots of Telephone Techniques. And we delivered them from the old OHPs and transparencies. Goodness, they were heavy to lug around! Now we have iPads, Prezi, and m-learning. Soon we could be enjoying the endless possibilities of integrated learning games, virtual classrooms & holograms in mainstream training!
“And the programmes we are designing and delivering? Well they have changed dramatically too. For example, we have recently launched a programme called Managing Millennials. It is recognised and approved by the Institute of Leadership & Management and explores the differences in work ethic, approach, expectations, and motivations of different generations within a team. It equips managers with a set of modern management tools which are particularly valuable when it comes to managing the new kid on the block, Generation Y.
“We are weaving aspects of Emotional Intelligence into programme content. We are helping organisations to implement a coaching culture and a mentoring/protégé focus. Many of our Equality & Diversity programmes now have a strong focus on Unconscious Bias. And our new suite of experiential Customer Service training programmes, well, you’ll just have to wait to see what we are about to launch there!”
The world of Learning & Development has been, to some extent at least, poised on the block of the post-recessionary start line. Now the gun has fired organisations will not waste any time re-equilibrating ‘investment’ and ‘essential’ training (most likely with one eye still firmly fixed on ROI).
Not too long ago there was talk of e-learning knocking classroom based programmes off the top spot, despite sceptics questioning how effective self-directed learning can be in addressing behavioural change. Now the world of Learning & Development is braced to see now how mobile, social and virtual learning will fare with the strong technological wind that they have behind them. Although with holographic technology infiltrating entertainment, 3D printing shaking up manufacturing and Google Glass taking us one step closer to the likes of The Matrix and Robocop, there is likely to be significantly more change in Learning & Development over the next 25 years than any of us are able to imagine.
Righttrack Consultancy is one of the top learning and development specialists in the UK and across the Middle East. They work with a broad range of organisations across all three sectors from FTSE 100s to SMEs to deliver innovative, effective in-house training solutions.