In the last month, I’ve spoken with many training providers to try and get a sense of how the market currently is for B2B training solutions.
With so much flux around new hybrid ways of working, I was keen to understand demand levels and the mix of formats currently being requested.
The first positive is that the overwhelming majority are extremely busy. So much so, they are looking to invest in the teams, technology and business to ramp up delivery. Unsurprisingly many struggled at the height of the COVID pandemic with client budgets disappearing overnight and the switch into survival mode.
From a delivery format perspective, it seems to be a mixed bag. Some clients are looking to stick with virtual delivery. Others want to switch back to a predominant face-to-face approach, while some clients have seen the potential in a multi-modal approach and want to explore a blended or hybrid model.
There were several insights I picked up from my conversations:
#1 – Some L&D/OD/HR departments are working through the significant challenges of hybrid/remote working and staff absences from COVID. As a result, they are seeking high-impact and rapid solutions to ease some of the immediate pains.
#2 – Some organisations are continuing to invest in significant long-term programmes. This is because they recognise the need to continue to develop their teams, hold onto their talent and upskill for these new ways of working.
#3 – Face-to-face is back on the menu, but it’s increasingly seen as a ‘premium’ format given the challenges of getting disparate teams together. Training providers are being challenged to use the precious contact time to full benefit, for example, by building connections rather than just providing information.
#4 – There’s a strong appetite for blended learning, incorporating self-study online materials and virtual workshops on Zoom. Dedicating time for study is a real challenge at present, so regular calls add some accountability and motivation.
So what does this mean for training providers?
I think flexibility is going to be critical moving forwards. Providers have often had a modular approach in their training design, but this will apply to the delivery method too. I imagine clients will want more say in shaping a delivery that fits their way of working – and training providers will need to be able to accommodate this.
Technology can no longer be ignored either. A strong understanding of the capabilities and strengths of each modality – whether that be face-to-face, virtual, self-study online or a mix – will be essential, as well as how to implement these.
I suspect there will be significant ‘growing pains’ as training providers familiarise themselves with new digital tools and realise they will need to be experts in this, as well as the subject matter itself.
For ambitious training providers looking to scale, it’s an exciting time!