Are your people 'learning in the dark'?

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24 Oct 2019

24 Oct 2019 • by Capita

Without the data and insight required to track, measure and evaluate the impact of learning, organisations find themselves ‘learning in the dark’, warns Capita in the second of its Human to Hybrid whitepapers.

Strategic use of data and insight is essential as organisations embark on wholesale digital and workforce transformation over the next five years. However, few firms are satisfied with their current use of data and insight within their learning provision, according to recent report by Capita.

Its latest ‘Hybrid to Human’ white paper, The insight edge in learning: how data can transform learning to deliver future skills, reveals the findings of independent research among UK learning and development (L&D) professionals, business leaders and employers.

Inconsistent use of data

The study shows that while the majority of organisations are using people data to inform their learning strategies and learning delivery, and are in no doubt about its potential, for the most part they are doing so in an inconsistent and ad hoc way; only 12% of L&D leaders regard their use of data and insight in learning strategy and delivery as excellent.

By contrast, 45% report that they only ‘sometimes’ use people data to inform their learning strategies and over half (55%) admit that they only use learning data ‘sometimes’ to inform learning delivery andcontent, suggesting that most L&D departments do not currently have the processes, skills or tools in place to use data to drive their decision-making on a consistent basis.

Factors affecting efforts to take an optimal, data-driven approach include a perceived lack of time/other more urgent things to do, cited by 35% of respondents, followed by a lack of analytics skills in the L&D team (31%) and a lack of clarity and consistency in measuring ROI/learning outcomes (27%).

Only a third (35%) of L&D leaders are very confident that they have full visibility of all learning investment across their organisation.

The employee lens 

Research among employees strongly reinforces the need for more effective use of data and insight within learning. The average employee feels that less than a third (31%) of the learning they have done in the past 12 months has had any notable positive outcome; older employees are more sceptical about the impact of training than their younger colleagues.

Overall, more than a third (36%) of employees report that the learning they have done feels like a tick-box exercise and a similar proportion (35%) say that there were no clear objectives for the training they received. 

Many (if not all) of the employee complaints and concerns around learning could be addressed through effective use of data and insight within learning. Armed with the right insight, employers could deliver the optimal tailored, personalised learning experiences employees are calling for. However, research among employees reinforces the need for caution and robust compliance in the use of data and associated insight within learning provision.

Data-driven learning

Looking ahead, L&D leaders see the value in using data to derive insight and measure the impact of learning on individual performance as well as broader business performance. Priorities include tracking the impact of learning on employee engagement, identifying high-potential employees and matching learners to online learning resources at scale.

The vast majority (85%) believe data-driven insight that allows them to predict future learning needs within the organisation, and to understand learning behaviours and patterns within the workforce, woulddrive improved learning delivery andperformance, and support greaterworkforce agility.

Data-driven learning equates to learning and development strategies that use data and insight to identify skills gaps, develop personalised learning programmes, and to track, measure and optimise the impact and outcomes of learning for both the employee and the organisation.

Significantly, a third (32%) of L&D leaders believe that data-driven learning can help to create a culture of learnability within the organisation – vital for maximising the benefits of a hybrid workforce and upskilling employees in new areas and emerging job categories.

Employees also recognise the need for a greater focus on learning. Almost half (46%) feel they need to develop their technical skills to thrive in a hybrid workforce; 42% need to improve their IT skills, and 30% need to work on their creative and innovative thinking.

Addressing skills gaps

Almost two thirds (60) of employees believe that artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning makes human learnability a more pressing priority for businesses and employees. 

This research proves the vital role that data and insight can play in driving a culture of learning within the workforce, by informing and enabling more engaging, personalised learning experiences, which deliver better outcomes for both individuals and businesses. A quarter of L&D professionals also believe that data-driven learning can help to attract new talent into the organisation.

Given the sheer scale and severity of the skills shortages affecting most sectors in the UK, perhaps the most significant impact of data and insight for the L&D department is its potential to identify and fix current skills gaps within an organisation. On average, L&D leaders believe that over half (52%) of all skills gaps within their organisation could be addressed by better use of data.


The challenge for L&D leaders over the next five years is both considerable and critical. This research reveals that data remains a largely untapped resource within learning provision and few organisations claim to be excelling when it comes to strategic use of data and insight to inform their learning provision.

So much learning continues to be undertaken ‘in the dark’, with L&D departments unable to measure the impact of learning investment on individual, departmental or organisational performance. And at a more granular level, data is still not being maximised to deliver more relevant, personalised and engaging learning experiences to employees. It’s a glaring opportunity for business and HR leaders which is currently being missed.

·      Read the full report 

·      Read further Capita whitepapers