What Works in Professional Development: The Changing Landscape of Training

Most would agree that training has numerous benefits, including employee growth, engagement, retention, innovation, motivation, etc. One of the hardest […]

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Most would agree that training has numerous benefits, including employee growth, engagement, retention, innovation, motivation, etc. One of the hardest parts of training is wellattending training! “I’m too busy,” “I can’t be out of pocket for a whole day, or two, or three,” “It’s not in the budget”, etc.

The reasons we struggle to attend training are exactly the reasons why we all should attend! The more training we receive, the more we can perform our jobs at a more efficient and effective level. When knowledge learned in training is utilized and shared, you and others in your environment become more efficient in your positionsno longer “too busy,” you can be “out of pocket” for a few days and others will be able to hold down the fort without you. Improving work flow and relationships is a priceless benefit of attending training.

The combination of workers feeling “too busy” and technological advancements have led to major changes in the training landscape over the past decade.


Just a decade ago, we all “went” to training. Traditional training was predominately classroom based. At HDI, we refer to this training model as instructor-led training. This model offers industry experts as trainers, with hands on, in-depth training and activities.

Instructor-led training is still viewed as a favorable source of training. It is the only training method that fosters face-to-face learning and networking. According to Chris Farver, Director of Certification and Training for HDI and ICMI, “Some of our most advanced courses require face-to-face interaction with other senior leaders within the service and support industry. These interactions and the relationships established within the course and for the years afterward are a key part of the course design. That is something that cannot be replicated as effectively with other training methods.”


In the past decade, we started to see a shift toward virtual and e-learning training options. Thanks to advances in technology, learners today can access training without incurring travel expenses and complete training courses as busy schedules allow. Today virtual and e-learning training options are in high demand due to the amount of flexibility they offer. According to Farver, “We train approximately 6,000 students per year. Of those students, nearly 90% are trained using e-learning and instructor-led virtual training methods.”


Totals greater than 100% are due to rounding.

Microlearnings are also a very popular training method today. Microlearnings are short trainings that cover a focused topic, learning gap, or idea. These come in many forms including video (i.e., YouTube, Ted Talks, Lynda.com, etc.), presentations, gaming, quizzes, short e-learning segments, and more and offer a great way to close a small skill gap quickly.

Microlearnings are not ideal for an overall big picture change in hard or soft skills. For those larger training needs, customization and learning paths offer more in-depth information that teams need.


We live in a fast-paced world. According to Learning Insights 2017, learners have grown accustomed to being able to access vast amounts of information in a very short amount of time. “For generation Y, one of the biggest frustrations is buffering. Content that takes too long to download or connect. At the moment, learning and development is taking too long to buffer.”

Training will need to continue to evolve with on-demand trainings, mainly a variety of budget friendly microlearnings, that directly tie to issues occurring in real time. “I see growing need in the industry for shorter, more modular training, and also for just-in-time trainingtraining that is available to a staff member when they need it versus trying to recall something they learned in training weeks, months, or even years earlier,” says Farver.

According to the L&D Global Sentiment Survey 2017, there will continue to be an increase in enthusiasm around Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Currently these methods are not mature enough to have an impact on mainstream learning and development. Expect debate around use cases and best practices for implementation of these emerging technologies as they begin to apply more to the training landscape.

Training is empowering and has the potential to improve work flow and relationships to a much more manageable level. In today’s world, there are so many training options available and even more flexible options are still to come in this ever-changing training landscape. YES you are busy, YES training can be an expense. But can you or your team afford NOT to do it?

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