Increased use of e-learning and more in-house training (both cited by 40 per cent of respondents) are the primary changes in learning and development (L&D) strategy and methodology in response to the recession, according to a survey of L&D professionals conducted by the World of Learning 2009, the UK’s key conference and exhibition for business learning.

The survey also revealed that 28 per cent of respondents are making more use of informal learning techniques and a further 20 per cent have placed increased emphasis on re-skilling, while 11 per cent reported an increased integration with the HR function. Just 16 per cent of respondents stated that their company’s approach to L&D has not changed at all during the current economic downturn.

worldof-learningIt is therefore evident that there has been a significant shift in focus of L&D activity in reaction to the recent tough economic times. Andrew Gee, Senior Project Manager for the World of Learning, said: “We have found from our discussions with L&D practitioners and experts that the recession has made a significant impact on the L&D function within organisations as, indeed, it has across all aspects of business, and this is reflected in the results of this survey.”

David Taylor of Motiv8 Training, an exhibitor at the World of Learning Exhibition 2009, points out that it can be the case that bad news about the economy brings necessary changes to the focus of the L&D investment required by businesses, with enterprising L&D providers seeing a significant rise in requests for training in talent management, teambuilding and motivation. “Hard pressed organisations are striving to keep their best people whilst looking for help to provide motivation and a sense of team purpose for the reduced workforce trying to cope with wider-ranging job roles,” he says. “In short, the flexible and innovative L&D business can still find work in a difficult market.”

Gee continues: “The changing economy has also presented L&D professionals with a challenge. With increasing pressure on budgets, they must find a way of doing more for less, but not doing less, and be adaptable in order to play a key role in setting up the business to flourish when economic conditions improve.”

The survey results have been released ahead of the World of Learning Conference & Exhibition, which takes place on 30 September and 1 October 2009 at the NEC, Birmingham. Within the conference, Iain Clements, Learning Management System Specialist at Diageo, will examine the issue of how to deliver more effective learning for less and will share the Diageo Diagnostic Tool with delegates. “The Diagnostic Tool was developed at a time when L&D spend was being closely scrutinised within our company, so we were under pressure to provide maximum impact in the most cost-effective way,” he says.

The two-day conference programme will address the key issues affecting L&D professionals today and will provide delegates with practical ideas and solutions to address their business learning needs. These range from justifying the existence of L&D and proving the value of the work that departments are doing, to equipping both themselves and the business with the skills to confront the challenges head on.

Running alongside the conference, the World of Learning Exhibition hosts over 110 major learning suppliers offering services to assist L&D professionals in achieving this, as well as feature areas to further aid their skills development, which include: the Experiential Learning Zone; a programme of free educational seminars; the British Institute of Learning & Development (BILD) Advice Clinic, which offers the opportunity for visitors to gain personalised advice on their learning issues and also features small group skills workshops focusing on some of the key aspects of running an L&D function; product presentations; the Energiser Zone; the Serious Games Zone, including a programme of free seminars; and the Networking Café.