Learning and development: perspectives on the future

Fairhurst P | Opinion Paper OP19 | Institute for Employment Studies | Jun 2010

The ability of organisations to adapt and to learn to operate in changing circumstances are critical capabilities.

And yet, when times get tough one of the first things to be cut is the learning and development budget. Why is this? Do organisations think that they no longer need to learn, or is it because they actually think that the investment isn’t delivering value to the business; in which case why were they doing it in the first place?

Recent estimates by a number of commentators and researchers have suggested that between only 10% and 30% of learning occurs through formal development and yet 80% to 90% of the L&D budget is spent on this. Are L&D functions spending their money in the right places and on the right solutions?

In 2008 and 2009, in conjunction with Training Journal, the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) undertook a study exploring the future of learning and development through the use of scenario thinking. The work sought to address how the L&D community should be learning, and developing its own capability to serve the organisation better.