L&D Global Sentiment Survey 2022: the long shadow of Covid-19
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08 February 2022

The 2022 L&D Global Sentiment Survey shows how Covid-19 continues to affect Learning and Development (L&D) world-wide, both giving L&D departments clear goals to aim for, and making it difficult to achieve them.

The survey, now in its 9th year, had one obligatory question: “What will be hot in workplace L&D in 2022?” Respondents answered by choosing 3 options from a list of 16, including ‘Other’. There were also two optional questions asking where respondents worked and what challenges they faced. The survey ran from December 2021 to early February 2022. Over 3,500 people participated, including, for the first time, a significant cohort from Africa of over 400 participants.

Before the report is published next week, here is my initial take on the data:

  1. Reskilling/upskilling no longer dominates
  2. Soft trumps hard … or does it?
  3. Geography matters
  4. The pandemic casts a long shadow

 

1. Reskilling/upskilling no longer dominates

Topping the global table for the second year, Reskilling/upskilling was nonetheless not quite as dominant as in 2021. The overall vote was down 0.5% and for the first time it was not #1 across all employment categories – those working in Education put it second. Once again, it did not top Brazil’s choices, and this year for the first time there was a different #1 choice in Germany, New Zealand and Poland.

A 12.5% share of the vote, however, remains historically high and reflects the importance voters put on training for new ways of working as the world slowly emerges from the pandemic. However, responses to the optional question about challenges for 2022 indicate real issues in the practical side of implementing such training – or indeed, training programmes of any sort.  See 4. The pandemic casts a long shadow below for these issues.

2. Soft trumps hard … or does it?

In 2019, Personalization/adaptive learning, AI and Learning analytics took the top 3 places, with a combined 29.9% of the overall vote. After 3 years, that combination of options now accounts for just 20.1% of the overall vote. Learning analytics fell 1.5%, the most of any option on the table. This year’s two other substantial fallers are the technology-focused options of Mobile delivery and Learning experience platforms, both down 0.7%.

In place of these technology/data-focused options, this year’s greatest risers are Collaborative/social learning (#2), Coaching/mentoring (#4) and Consulting more deeply with the business (#9).

Is this evidence of a softer, more human focus for L&D? I think it’s too soon to jump to that conclusion.

While the rise of support for collaboration, coaching and consulting are interesting, the increase in vote for these options is small (all but Coaching/mentoring rose by under 0.5%).  Also, we can’t ignore the success of this year’s new addition to the survey: Skills-based talent management. This gathered 7.2% of the vote, and given that this is a technology-focused option, it’s possible the fall of other  tech choices simply represents votes transferred away from them to the new option.

3. Geography matters 

Last year was notable for the spectacular descent of Artificial intelligence (#12) and Virtual and augmented reality (#13). This year, these options have halted their fall, and actually gathered more support. each recovering by 0.4%. However, this recovery can be almost entirely ascribed to support for these options from Africa, which has been under-represented in previous surveys. Without the African vote, their share of the vote would have remained almost unchanged this year. This is one reason why it’s important to look at the detail behind these numbers, and the location of the survey respondents in particular.

The table of results shown here gives the aggregate results for the world, but beneath it lies a collection of different stories, varying by location. For example, Africa and South America placed Collaborative/social learning (#2) substantially above Personalization/adaptive delivery (#3), while India and North America reversed that, voting strongly for personalisation ahead of collaboration. Similarly, Western Europe favoured personalization; Central Europe collaboration. Some local variations persist over time: New Zealanders are apparently wedded to Micro learning, Australians to Showing value and Swedes to Collaborative/social learning, consistently ranking them higher than average.

To provide some further insight to the detail behind this global table, I will blog in the coming weeks about the different regions contributing to the survey, starting with Africa, where we had 405 votes from 23 countries.

4. The pandemic’s long shadow

Nearly 1,400 respondents chose to answer the optional question ‘What is your biggest L&D challenge in 2022?’ in a total of nearly 17,000 words. It has been a privilege to read these comments of people aiming to do their best under difficult circumstances.

I was able to categorise about 80% of the answers and about two thirds of them fell into these 5 categories, ranked in order of the number of times they were cited:

  1. Learner engagement
  2. Going or staying hybrid
  3. Stakeholder enthusiasm / showing value
  4. Technology
  5. L&D budget and resources

 

The clear sense across all of these is that L&D knows what to do, but is striving to obtain the resources, technology, support or engagement to make it happen. If there was a sense last year that there was a major piece of work to be done reskilling and upskilling employees, this year that is tempered by the sheer scale of the task.

Overall

The data in this year’s survey gives the sense of a shift from last year’s grand aspiration of reskilling and upskilling programmes to the harsh reality of the difficulties of L&D as we begin to emerge from the pandemic.

While the focus is still on the goal of preparing employees for a new future, it seems that L&D practitioners are shifting how they believe this goal can best be achieved. In the face of their challenges, they appear to be moving shifting away from technology and towards collaborative learning as a key method, although this varies by geography.

 

How the survey was run

Polling ran from 8 December 2021 to 5 February 2022. Respondents were contacted by social media and email and voted for three of 15 suggested options, plus a free text ‘Other’ option.  There were also two optional questions: ‘What is your biggest L&D challenge in 2022?’ (free text) and ‘Which of these best describes where you do most of your work?’, which gave a choice of 6 answers. 3,518 voters participated from 112 countries.

Caveats

Respondents to this report are self-selecting and unscreened. We cannot guaranteed they are involved in L&D, although the targeted nature of promotion and the main question itself makes this very likely. Those that do choose to respond are likely to be Innovators and Early adopters and users of technology. The voting population cannot be guaranteed to be the same each year,  making year-to-year comparisons across the data problematic, although in countries with significant numbers or respondent (>100), regular patterns of voting do occur year-on-year.

 

For your free copy of the GSS 2022 report and all Global Sentiment Survey reports, please register here:

With thanks to the sponsors and media partners of the 2022 L&D Global Sentiment Survey: 

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0 thoughts on “L&D Global Sentiment Survey 2022: the long shadow of Covid-19

  • I don’t think it’s too soon to jump to the conclusion that the rise of social/collaborative etc are ‘evidence of a softer, more human focus for L&D’. One of the keywords for the future of work that I saw at the recent Australian L&D symposium was connection. The pandemic has forced isolation on many, and it’s very human to seek connection, so it’s no surprise to me that L&D is reflecting this.

    • I agree with Neil. It is already a huge theme when I speak to people in other L&D teams. I think it has gone from being a positive side-effect of training to being a primary objective in training design. We actively trying to build more into our programs.

  • To replace ‘upskilling and reskilling’ with ‘learner engagement’ perhaps reflects the fact that many people are dealing with life on a day to day basis. They’re ruthlessly prioritising. For learning to jump the queue, it needs to add value, real time and/or be able to be done right here, right now.

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