L&D as the Leader in Workforce Development

Learning and development (L&D) teams are a critical component of an organization. Whether serving internally under the guidance of a chief learning officer or as a third-party training provider in a managed learning services plan, they play a pertinent role in ensuring that all employees are trained to the fullest capacity within their scope. From providing onboarding training to new hires to providing mandatory safety and compliance training, L&D is the go-to leader in ensuring that an organization’s team stays on top of the skills needed by the industry.

The L&D Mindset: Upskilling and Reskilling Continuously

L&D must lead the development of the organization’s staff with a growth mindset, that is, they must craft the requirements of all training programs, with the idea that training events will provide continual growth that will exceed well beyond after the course is finished. Why is this so critical? For one, businesses must aim to remain competitive and deliver the best products and services to their clients. This demands that teams stay current on the latest trends and innovations in their respective industries.

Second, it is more common for employees to seek further training that not only satisfies and maintains their job requirements, but also levels up their professional skills. Upskilling & reskilling and even “preskilling”, are words often tossed around in the learning and development community. Typically, upskill and reskill programs are targeted, single-endeavor initiatives for specific talent needs. For example, when a company finds that a new technology could be used in their industry to simplify certain tasks, they may implement a training course with several sessions on how to use it effectively.

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4 Ways L&D Can Own Upskilling and Reskilling

1. Acknowledge there’s a Deficiency in Competency (and there always will be)

Competency is made up of different skill sets. Skills for that matter are what make up competency in a given field. For instance, an IT manager has the competency to plan and develop the network infrastructure of an entire building. The complete understanding of how to do that relies on a foundation of various skills, both soft and hard, to fulfill that role. An IT manager is expected to have several skills in their competency tool belt including basic project management, wiring cables, setting up security protocols, and managing databases.

But L&D teams need to be picky. Picky in the sense they need to scrutinize which skills within the role’s definition of “competent” need improvement. L&D may opt to ask the “Five Whys” of improving the competency of an entire training program.

Let’s take the IT manager example a little further with the following situation:

Only 46% of Learners earned their IT Certification

      1. Why? The learners had no time.
      2. Why? Their in-person work schedules conflicted with in-person training.
      3. Why? There were no trainers available on training sites.
      4. Why? L&D was not able to find trainers available qualified to train on the course.
      5. Why? L&D could not procure qualified trainers and SMEs with what was available at the time.

In this situation, L&D knows they can improve competency and underlying skills but only if they can provide the right framework and processes to deliver.

2. Provide Qualitative and Quantitative Evidence for Reskill and Upskill Programs

Getting the green light to develop upskilling and reskilling programs won’t be as straightforward as it seems. A survey of business owners per CNBC revealed that 51% of C-level executives saw L&D programs as a waste of time

While L&D oversees what learning programs get implemented, gaining the approval of upper management remains critical. L&D must strategically persuade the C-suite, including the chief learning officer, why upskilling and reskilling programs are a necessity. How can L&D provide proof for reskilling & upskilling? Cold hard evidence.

Through a training needs analysis, L&D  can get both qualitative and quantitative data that describes where learners fall short on needed skills. Key qualitative data that can be used include preferred learning methods and training site locations (or lack thereof). Important qualitative data can include the number of completed certifications, available hours for training for learners and instructors, and the percentage of employees with overall satisfaction with their skills.

Training metrics, employee surveys, and performance results by department can provide a comprehensive view of where improvement can be made.

3. Placing the Learner as the Primary Objective

Within any business, the ultimate solution lies with its employees. As such, employees are the most critical assets in furthering a company’s mission statement. For the operations department, they are seen as “human capital”, but for L&D they’re “learners”. Both viewpoints are important, however, as learning professionals it’s the job of L&D to excel at increasing employee competency and fostering professional growth. When L&D can provide an improved learning experience, this cascades into better application of learned skills and increased employee satisfaction.

L&D must position itself as the champion for learners first and for the organizational goals second.

To start, L&D can begin to ask themselves:

      • What skills are employees missing to do their jobs better?
      • Where are they lacking skills that our competitors’ employees have?
      • How can this training be delivered to accommodate the learners’ schedule?
      • What’s the best way to provide this training?
      • What type of training are learners looking to gain for their careers?
      • How was training done in the past? Was it satisfactory or was it “training for training’s sake”?

When learning teams put the learner’s needs as the focus of the entire training operation, only then can L&D have a better understanding of how to deliver the training they need to excel for the organization and their professional development.

reskill and upskill training for professionals

4. Owning the Logistics of Learning

Now that reskilling programs are ready to go, L&D needs to demonstrate its comprehensive capabilities in training operations management and ensure its programs run with efficiency and effectiveness.

The logistics of learning revolve around the planning, scheduling, delivering, and monitoring of multiple training activities to ensure success. The goal of L&D teams for that matter is for training to go according to plan but also to ensure that learners can transfer learned skills into professional practice.

C-level personnel and other training stakeholders will want to know how such large training activities will be managed. After all, reskill and upskill training programs generally have a large scope. This means L&D will be responsible for scheduling and monitoring multiple courses and learning resources, as well as their utilization rates for resources, including training venues, equipment, and trainers & instructors. In addition, upper management will also be concerned as to the cost and benefits of providing the training.

Key questions L&D managers may be asked about reskilling and upskilling can include:

      • What’s the scope of the training program?
      • Given the scope of training, what does the training schedule look like for our team?
      • What is the breakdown of the costs involved for each course?
      • What is the financial analysis of the training program as a whole, costs vs budget?
      • Who do you have available to conduct training? How many hours are available for the trainer?
      • When can we deliver training? When is there availability for learners and trainers? At which dates and times?
      • Will training be instructor-led / face-to-face? Through Virtual Instructor-led Training (VILT)? Or is it better to conduct it online?
      • Do we have the right solutions in place to efficiently manage the scheduling and logistics?
      • If we are still using spreadsheets and calendars to manage scheduling, have they been updated?

Ensuring that L&D has the right systems in place to handle the complex process of scheduling training and managing the learning operations is crucial for effective training program management and outcomes. While it may seem daunting at first, it’s a natural part of optimizing any organization’s learning initiatives. What key benefits can the right system provide for training providers?

      • Efficiency: Proper systems streamline scheduling, resource allocation, and trainer collaboration, saving time and effort for everyone involved.
      • Accuracy: Automated systems reduce human errors in scheduling and ensure that training sessions are correctly planned and communicated.
      • Scalability: As organizations grow, the complexity of training needs increases. Effective systems can handle larger volumes of training sessions and participants seamlessly.
      • Data-driven Insights: Modern systems provide analytics on critical items such as resource utilization, training delivery, course delivery analysis, and budget/financial analysis – enabling informed decision-making.
      • User Experience: A well-designed system enhances the experience for the training back-office (training delivery team) and trainers, making it easier to access resources, track progress, and communicate updates.

By emphasizing the importance of these systems, upper management can be confident that the L&D function is equipped to handle the complexities of training scheduling and operations effectively. Not to mention L&D can feel confident in their capabilities for managing complex upskill and reskill programs and providing clear and detailed data to support these programs. This not only supports organizational goals but also enhances employee development and engagement – ultimately contributing to overall business success.

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Learning is a lifelong endeavor. As cliche as it may sound, the mantra is true for both learners and L&D pros. Learning professionals must remind themselves that training doesn’t stop after a session has ended or a course has been completed but that training has just paused for a brief moment. What most human resources and operations teams need to understand is that learning and development is a perpetual process that changes as new technologies become available and the organization adapts to changes.

The thing about L&D processes is that there is always something to improve. The Japanese maintain the concept of Kaizen or, the process of continual improvement through repetition and learning through mistakes. Learning and development processes should very much take the same approach. In addition, they need to ask themselves where improvements can be made and where there are better opportunities to make it easier and more efficient for all.

After the training has ended, it’s time for L&D to huddle and review the training program in its entirety and ask:

  • What went right with training?
  • What went wrong with training?
  • What did learners like? What did learners dislike?
  • Was a course better suited for virtual instructor-led training compared to in-person instruction?
  • Did we achieve an improved training ROI for the learner than before?
  • How much time was invested to conduct training? On the trainer’s side and the learner’s side?
  • What was the total cost of training? Did we exceed our training budget?

When L&D has reviewed data, they can confidently make the decisions needed to improve the next iteration of training. However, the planning and managing of schedules and resources to conduct reskilling programs can be a challenge even for the most seasoned learning teams. In rapidly changing industries that regularly implement new tools and technologies, such as financial services, medical devices, and telecommunications, organizing upskilling programs can be more difficult than it needs to be without the proper system to manage learning sessions.

About Training Orchestra

For over 20 years, Training Orchestra has helped over 600 training companies, corporate L&D departments, and associations worldwide to address instructor-led training operations management challenges for their employee, customer, partner, or member training programs. We’ve crafted the perfect training management system to address the most critical needs of corporate L&D and training businesses.

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