Learning and development professionals say they are strong in traditional skills such as face-to-face delivery and learning content design but are weak in business skills and newer skills such as developing collaborative learning.
These are the headline findings from the self-assessments of 983 learning and development professionals who have measured their skills using the Learning and Performance Institute Capability Map.
The Capability Map was launched in October 2012 as a diagnostic tool to help L&D practitioners assess their skills based on a list of 27 skills (see below). The skills were validated by industry practitioners and thought leaders such as Charles Jennings, former chief learning officer at Thomson Reuters and Nigel Paine, former chief learning officer at the BBC.
The 27 skills are grouped into 9 areas: analysis and strategy business skills and intelligence, collaborative learning, learning delivery management, learning information management and interpretation, learning resources, live delivery, managing the learning function, performance improvement.
Respondents gave themselves the highest scores in learning resources and live delivery whilst collaborative learning, analysis and strategy and business skills and intelligence received the lowest skills.
Individual skills are scored on a grade of 1 to 4. Each grade represents the level of capability for that skill ranging from a practicing professional (grade 1) to a leader in that skill (grade 4).
The average score (out of 4) for each skill is an average taken from the total scores for that skill and divided by the number of respondents.
More traditional skills around face-to-face learning and presentation delivery scored the highest average scores of 3.36 and 3.26 respectively. Learning design and content creation also scored highly.
Respondents were free to rank their own capabilities and the most highly ranked skills were those in the more traditional skills categories – live delivery 74%, learning resources 63% and performance improvement 45%.
Far fewer respondents scored themselves against skills such as analysis and strategy 38%, managing the learning function 37%, business skills and intelligence 35%, and learning information management and interpretation 33%.
Newer L&D skills were scored much lower than more traditional skills. For example, competency management scored 2.36, information architecture 2.35, supporting communities of practice 2.30, and developing collaborative learning skills 2.27.
Although the data suggests yawning skills gaps around newer L&D skills, business and learning strategy, there are signs of hope as the results show respondents are starting to practise newer skills such as collaborative learning.
Worryingly, learning and development leaders score themselves down on skills such as communication, marketing and relationship management. Financial management is a challenge too with less than half the 48% of heads of L&D taking a leading role (scoring 4) and 19% marking themselves as level 2 which is defined as: “Monitors and maintains financial records to agreed requirements. Assists in financial management related to learning and performance, especially in identifying and reducing costs.”
When it comes to change management, only 390 of the 983 respondents assessed themselves. The average score for change management skill was 2.55 out of 4. Many learning and development professionals do not associate their work with change management.
Lesley Price, membership services manager at the Learning and Performance Institute, said that the skills outlined in the Capability Map weren’t necessarily the skills one would expect every learning and development professional to have. The skills set out in the Capability Map were the skills that the Institute would expect to be covered by a learning and development team.
Price said the results suggested that L&D professionals had been too busy focusing on the skills of the organisation and not on their own skills development. She hoped the Capability Map would provide learning and development professionals with a business case to get better training for themselves.
If learning and development is responsible for developing the skills of an organisation then they also need to upskill themselves.
Nigel Pain, former Head of People Development at the BBC and founder of nigelpaine.com believes the LPI has taken the lead in mapping out the L&D landscape.
This is the first report that I have ever read that digs deep into the skills that the learning and development community possesses, and reveals the key and core skills it will need to stay vibrant and relevant in the future.
Everyone working in L&D – or indeed HR – will find this report revealing, interesting and challenging. It sets the benchmark for further deep-dives into what makes L&D tick now and in the future. It manages to be both informative, and practical. This lays down the gauntlet in terms of establishing the best possible teams to deliver learning and development that matters.
Writing on his blog, LPI chairman Donald Taylor said business needs to share information and fast and that L&D must be able to respond to the challenge.
L&D cannot be the bottle-neck in this crucial process of sharing. Rather it must be the enabler, which means both increasing engagement with the rest of the business and stepping back from being mainly the producer of information/ content/courses and focusing in addition on systems and processes that encourage employees to learn from each other.
This is a new vision of what we do, very different from the tradition of training that I joined when beginning in this industry over 25 years ago. The good news is that in my experience the profession appears mostly ready to adapt and change to meet this challenge.
The Capability Map’s 27 skills
- Presentation delivery
- Face to face delivery
- Virtual/online delivery
- Content creation
- Performance support
- Supporting work teams
- Supporting communities of Practice
- Supporting content co-creation and curation
- Developing collaborative learning skills
- Performance analysis
- Competency management
- Assessment and evaluation
- Learning strategy
- Information architecture
- Data interpretation
- Project management
- Change management
- People management and development
- Process management and improvement
- Resource management
- Financial management
- Communication, Marketing and relationship management
- Industry Awareness