• Five unexpected ideas about L&D in the workplace

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  • 20 Oct 2017
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‘Bipolar’ learning, virtual reality and manager buy-in take centre stage at World of Learning Conference

The World of Learning Conference at the Birmingham NEC brought together the wisdom of the finest L&D minds earlier this week. Here are five key highlights People Management took away from the event:

‘Myers Briggs is the worst s*** I’ve ever read’

Opening the conference with a bang, author Dr Fons Trompenaars derided the way many organisations learn. “The world is getting more diverse but we can’t deal with diversity because our learning models are completely bipolar,” he said. “The biggest s*** I’ve ever seen is Myers Briggs’ personality tests – why do we encourage models that exclude one type of person from the other?”

Cultural bias has left organisations ill-equipped to deal with diversity in the workplace, Trompenaars added. “Creating a culture of innovation through L&D is about what you share, where you are different, and strong, connective leadership,” he said. “If organisations are going to improve their learning and their workplace diversity, they have to engage with this.”

‘Virtual reality is not a fad’

Nitin Thakrar, managing director of eLearning Studios, explained how virtual reality (VR) can upgrade learning behaviours at work. “There are key variables setting VR apart from in-person learning,” he told delegates. “VR creates a significant imprint on the brain, tricking it into believing it is experiencing a certain situation and, in the longer term, affects endorphins and neural pathways, which control your feelings of reward and motivation.”

Thakrar added that VR lets employees make mistakes that are harder to support in ‘real’ training – from testing fire alarm protocols to public speaking – making it a vital tool for developing employees who work in complex or invasive environments. “Any training done in a VR environment can be collated and worked on to ensure real-world situations at work are not responded to with panic” he said.

Employers don’t care for off-the-job training rules

Tensions ran high in the apprenticeships zone as employers challenged representatives from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) over the 20 per cent off-the-job training requirement that forms a mandatory part of the apprenticeship levy.

Critics pointed out that off-the-job training equates to one day a week spent on non-work related training. Although ESFA spokespeople explained that this could be taken in blocks, delegates said the requirements were “frankly impossible”.

“Line managers must be engaged for [off-the-job training] to be effective; if they are creative and compliant, the time spent delivering off-the-job training outside of the office could be closer to 10 per cent,” Kate Temple-Brown, strategic apprenticeship levy consultant and partner at Temple Brown Consulting, told People Management.

Continuous development is the foil for artificial intelligence

Creating a culture of continuous development is key to developing worker resilience, as tech and artificial intelligence (AI) begin disrupting the ways we work, said Louise Brownhill, chief learning officer at PwC.

“In five years, a third of human jobs in professional services firms will be replaced by AI,” she told delegates. “We need to think about the impact of that, and how we are going to work with robots in the future. We can’t stop AI replacing people’s jobs, but we can improve our adaptability and upskill our people to be ready for that future.”

Learning won’t work without managers on board

High-quality learning and development will ultimately fail without the input of line managers, experts told delegates during a panel discussion.

“Line managers are rarely recognised as a crucial part of an L&D team,” said Andy Lancaster, head of learning and development at the CIPD, stressing that L&D was not a job to be “left to HR”.

The growth of social and collaborative learning makes this an exciting time to be in the industry, the panel added. However, if L&D is not delivered effectively to line managers, they will struggle to engage their teams, leading to a poor learning culture. “If people at all levels of the organisation can’t embrace this change, that’s when we run into trouble,” said Lancaster.


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Comments (2)
  • Nyree Treece I completely agree with you, we have staff who have been diagnosed with mental health issues who are excellent at their jobs so I always find these analogies pointless. I view the writer as someone who is out of touch and therefore don't take their views seriously. Its basic stuff for L&D so there really is no excuse.

  • Trompenaars reference to various L and D learning models being 'completely Bipolar', is both ill judged and offensive. I am surprised an industry wide publication would publish such a statement (without at least some form of caveat).

    Bipolar is a serious mental health condition, as an individual who lives with Bipolar and works in HR, I am sick and tired of the condition being used as a form of short hand by ill informed, lazy thinkers who want to make a, (rather crass) point that whatever they are criticizing is of little value and completely deranged. Have we learned nothing from all the good work being done to address mental health both in and out of the workplace? Get a grip, learn about the condition, and find alternative, valid ways to make your point Mr Trompenaars.

    Fons? Definitely not cool.