L&D departments need to support their organisation in valuable ways. Simples.
Yet I increasingly feel that the L&D industry takes a snobbish approach to the world of work – far too often talking about what we might actually call ‘knowledge workers’ or, at least, office work.
Yes knowledge work is obviously a large part of the workforce, however, this focus ignores the large numbers of UK PLC working in hospitality, healthcare and other areas where the workplace and workforce are relatively ‘low tech’, ‘low skilled’ (in the traditional graduate workforce kind of sense) and unfortunately often low paid.
Part of the problem seems to be that multiple traditional support departments (IT, KM, L&D and more) all seem to be running for a middle ground around productivity – which is largely as identified by the DWG’s 2018 research agenda:
Digital Workplace Group (DWG) embarks on an exciting research programme to deliver focused insights across both intranet and digital workplace good practice….
1. Collaborating in the digital workplace: how to have and to measure impact
2. Taking a strategic approach to the digital workplace: teams, structures, methods
3. Office 365: a detailed look at the wider suite
4. Digital literacy in the workplace: how to raise the organization’s digital IQ
5. Successful intranet migrations: strategies, approaches, tactics
6. The intelligent DW assistant: what teams need to know now about artificial intelligence
7. Digital workplace trends, themes and statistics: insights from DWG research and benchmarking.
The above list is pretty close to the buzz in L&D circles – at least if you swap out intranet for LMS or other system. The reality on the ground for L&D professionals – especially in those low paid sectors mentioned above – is instead apprenticeships, post-Brexit skills agenda, basic skill training (even JISC are saving ‘citizen’ resources from closure) and more. The positive is that at least via mobile, AR and VR we are seeing some practical workplace L&D buzz away from the knowledge workers who are tied to a desk and Outlook.
Yes, digital workplaces exist and many support departments will be made up of digital-first workers (even if their parent market or industry are not). However, let’s not forget everyone else.
After starting this post I then, when catching up with TJ podcasts, hit upon the Donald Clark interview from Online Educa that really hits many nails on their heads.