Pam Boiros, Learning Consultant, Training Orchestra
By Pam Boiros

Many corporate learning experts have been predicting and expecting the end of Instructor-Led Training (ILT) for a long time now. Considered an old-fashioned and out-of-date learning delivery method, many believed it would be completely replaced by e-learning methods. During the last 20 years, ILT has in fact been substituted by e-learning methods in some areas where e-learning is more effective, e.g on-demand situations – those including performance support topics, such as desktop skills.  Indeed, can you even remember the last time you saw an in-person classroom-based course on Excel? Neither can I!

I have worked for nearly 20 years in corporate training and I follow closely the evolutions and the needs of our industry. While I was, for some time, persuaded that e-learning was destined to substitute ILT in all areas, and by doing so, decrease costs and improve efficiency, I now firmly believe that ILT’s superiority in areas that require social collaboration and hands-on learning is and will continue to be unrivaled.

So why is there still such a strong focus on Instructor-led training? There are four main reasons:

1. Instructor Led Training is Still the Most Used Training Delivery Method

ILT is one of the largest areas of expenditure for nearly every Training Organization. Based on data from ATD, in addition to representing half of the hours delivered, often, ILT still represents 70% of training budgets[1]. The Instructor Led Training percentage is even higher in large organizations – those with 10,000+ employees—at 73%.  And for high-consequence industries, ILT makes up the 80%. ILT is especially important in the aviation or health and safety industries, which have critical needs for an aviation training management system or a safety training management system to manage and meet their crucial training objectives. Significantly, Training Organizations are not alone in using ILT as the main resource to develop their employee’s skills.

2. Instructor Led Training Works!

If ILT isn’t going away, the primary reason is that some topics are simply much better taught live than online. According to a 2015 Brandon Hall Group study, 56% of Instructor-Led Training modules are deemed highly effective against 21% of eLearning modules[2]. According to Training Magazine, 30% of sales training, onboarding, executive development, leadership and interpersonal skills training programs contain no online component at all[3]. Indeed, these skills can be effectively delivered only through dynamic interactions between a learner and the instructor, and between learner and fellow colleagues.

3. Major companies are making new investments in classroom training operations

The Global consulting and professional services firm Deloitte opened its new Deloitte University campus in Westlake, TX in 2011 to great fanfare.  This $300M facility of 700,000-square-foot, located on a 107-acre campus, provides training activities to many of Deloitte’s 260,000 associates. Some analysts were skeptical of such a colossal project, mainly due to its high costs compared to those of e-learning infrastructures.  Deloitte’s CEO, Cathy Engelbert, has countered the criticism with facts: the training facility saves the firm $10 million per year and is directly responsible for $175 million of directly enabled revenue.

Similarly, FM Global asserts the centrality of Instructor-Led Training to its learning strategy through its recent purpose-built and resource-intensive learning center.  The FM Global Learning Center, inaugurated in June 2017, is a state-of-the-art, eco-friendly training facility near Boston. The facility, featuring different types of active learning classrooms – ‘connected’ classrooms, collaborative spaces and more—is designed to facilitate innovative learning methods and to generate ideas for both FM Global clients and employees.

4. Surprise! Millennials expect and… look forward to classroom training

One factor driving the resurgence of ILT is its relevance to the millennial generation. According to a recent Gallup poll, Millennials rated the “opportunity to learn and grow” as their top incentive when considering a new job – higher than their GenX or Boomer counterparts.

Despite an affinity toward digital, mobile and social learning platforms, millennials appreciate the value of collaborative learning, which can only be experienced in face-to-face, instructor-led learning interactions.  As much as millennials are digital natives, they still like, demand, and value classroom experiences. As a matter of fact, 69% of Millennials aspire to be leaders in the next five years. 60% of them consider instructor-led training as a fundamental step in the path towards developing and refining their leadership skills[4].  Because of the opportunities ILT offers to discuss, practice and roleplay with instructors and colleagues, they consider it more effective than other digital methods.

What Now?

So, the question is not if or when ILT is going to be replaced by online: it won’t, because it is objectively effective. The real question is, how can you make the most of your Instructor Led Training programs? A new generation of innovations is aiming to do just that. From a learner perspective, you can think of blending online and offline learning, enhancing the classroom experience with connected tools, collaborative platforms or games. From a business perspective, technology solutions such as Training Orchestra’s Training Resource Management System can help you improve the efficiency of classroom training by simplifying large-scale planning, optimizing resources and budgets and significantly reducing the administrative workload.

We are not seeing the end of Instructor Led Training: we’re just beginning.

Training Orchestra can help L&D, Training Companies, Associations and Corporate Universities optimize their training operations. Contact us to find out more or see a demo. Let’s talk!


About the author: Pam Boiros is a learning strategy adviser with more than 20 years’ experience in the industry.



[1] ATD. State of the Industry, 2014

[2] ATD. State of the Industry, 2014

[3] 2016 Training Industry Report, Training Magazine