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L&D: Evolving Roles, Enhancing Skills


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DateApril 14, 2015 Posted by: Laura Overton   Keywords: Ambassadors, gathering feedback, L&D Skills, managing change, Resources

New CIPD/Towards Maturity research looks at the skills gaps that need to be addressed if L&D are to respond more effectively to change.

In last year’s Modernising Learning: Delivering Results report, we see that whilst the L&D community is more ambitious than ever before, many practitioners don’t have the capabilities in-house to make these changes actually happen. They therefore need to put their learning and development first, in order to effect wider organisational change.

Towards Maturity teamed up with the CIPD to identify the extent to which the profession is evolving and what developments mean practically for L&D practitioners.

This new research report draws on benchmarking data from 600 L&D leaders in the Towards Maturity benchmark study, alongside case study research with the following organisations:

The study also considers the actions of the Top deck organisations in the Towards Maturity Benchmark. Top Deck organisations are those who score in the top 10% of the Towards Maturity Index. The impact of innovative learning approaches in their organisations is head and shoulders above their peers, and translates to significant increases in bottom-line results.

Here are some fast facts from the report:


  • 38% of the benchmark participants had seen their team size increase in the last 2 years, 41% saw no change and 21% saw their teams decrease
  • 31% saw their budget increase in the last 2 years, 35% stayed the same and 34% saw a decrease
  • The public sector saw the biggest decrease in resources in the last 2 years, with 45% reporting a decrease in team size and 49% a decrease in budget
  • Top deck organisations are no different to others in team size or budget however they use their resources differently allocating 35% of their available L&D budget to technology tools to support learning (compared with 19% on average)
  • L&D teams reporting to the line of business were half as likely to have seen team size decreases in the last two years, and half as likely to predict them in future


"...it doesn’t matter where you sit, alignment is king...whether it is a performance issue or a skills issue, our job is to solve business problems."

  - Sarah Lindsell, Director, Global & UK Learning Technology & Transformation, PwC


Shifts in role focus

Given that 9 out of 10 L&D professionals are looking to improve the sharing of good practice, build performance and increase productivity, the teams are not yet resourced for change:

  • 3% of current L&D teams are in roles that look at social learning and collaborative learning but 53% plan to increase the number of L&D staff involved in this area.
  • 6% are involved in delivering online learning but 51% plan to increase this
  • 6% are involved in coaching /mentoring but 43% plan to increase this
  • 8% are involved in content development with 39% planning an increase
  • 2% of L&D teams are involved with data analytics 35% are planning an increase
  • 27% in classroom delivery with 22% planning an increase
  • 4% are involved in performance consulting but 28% are planning an increase
  • The course is still the focus for almost half of the sample - over 50% are not planning any changes at all when it comes to role focus on instructional design, content development, technology, performance consulting and data analytics.
  • 46% of L&D professionals agree with the statement ‘our L&D role is shifting from that of learning delivery to consultancy’. This increases to 70% of top deck organisations.
  • Top Deck companies are over 50% more likely to be focusing roles on coaching and mentoring, technology and infrastructure and online delivery


"The change that we’re going through is this: how do we move our people from being just deliverers of training to being performance consultants who are able to help their customers understand what is the performance gap, or what is the opportunity?"

 - Mark Reilly, McDonald's


What skills do L&D teams have in-house?

  • 93% say that the ability to use social media is now a priority but only 15% have the skills in house
  • 96% say the ability to support learners online is a priority but only 36% currently have the skills
  • 89% say that the abilility to deliver via the virtual classroom is a priority but only 34% currently have the skills
  • See figure 6 in the main report for more examples

How are L&D skills currently being developed?

  • 62% encourage L&D staff to join external networks and professional bodies
  • 48% provide CPD opportunities
  • 47% are encouraged to join external interest groups
  • 33% don’t know how L&D skills are being developed

Those providing CPD for L&D professionals (compared with those who are not) are twice as likely to:

  • agree that they have been able to speed up and improve the application of learning in the workplace
  • report that they have improved staff motivation
  • agree that learners put what they learn into practice quickly and more – see page 18


How are L&D teams using evidence to drive change?

  • 25% audit the skills of their L&D teams against those required
  • 21% use learning analytics to improve the service offered
  • 17% actively use benchmarking as a performance support tool
  • 11% collect financial data related to programme benefits


"Introducing change is never easy. For us, it started by presenting our existing L&D staff with clear independent evidence from both learners and experts that we needed to change"

  - Col. Garry Hearn, MOD


Download the report

The full report provides insights from the case study organiations to illustrate what new skills are needed and how they are being developed. A number of recommendations to support change in L&D are included throughout the report.

You can download the full report below.

Check out the press release here.

Related downloads

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