5 Things The Training Industry Has Taught Us In 2019


As we find ourselves on the cusp of 2020, it’s worth reflecting on some of the key things we’ve learned over the past year within Learning and Development. It’s been an exciting but turbulent year for both commercial training organisations and internal training departments. From surveys we’ve run, talks and events we’ve attended, and articles we’ve read…

Here are accessplanit’s 5 BIG Learning and Development takeaways from 2019…


Blended Learning

The buzzwords of the previous few years are showing no signs of blending into the background; if anything, they’re coming to the fore.

Blended learning uses a combination of online and face-to-face training to create a much more personalised and engaging journey for the learner. It empowers the learner to have more accountability and requires them to determine their own outcome.

The convenience and flexibility for the student to control their learning pace remotely is one of the key benefits, says Caroline Lawless, Digital Marketing Manager at LearnUpon. Particularly for Millennials and Gen Z, content needs to be easy to digest and engaging – an effective blended program also allows you the chance to break the monotony of the slightly less exciting areas of the program.

For organisations, it allows them to reduce resource costs; particularly on travel and accommodation, booking venues and printed materials. There’re benefits through collaboration too, says Brandon Jarman at Emerging Edtech. With increased transparency and communication across internal teams; learning shouldn’t be a lonely solo journey, after all.

The range and sheer extent of learning methods that are readily available to facilitate a good blended learning program, such as webinars and gamification, often means that engagement is higher and provides a quick return on investment for the business, too.

Video, VR and AR

Outside of the learning environment, it’s easy to see, even if you're  just scrolling on social media, just how prevalent video has become as a means to entertain, engage and convey a message. Over the past couple of years within Learning and Development, a number of great video creation tools have come to the fore; many of them free, to allow professional content and eLearning packages to be created quickly, with little to no start-up training required.

Virtual and Augmented Reality has seen a similar boom in terms of training effectiveness. Nothing in the world can help you fully prepare for the real-life version of what you’re training for, but VR helps you get pretty darn close. Particularly within pressured situations that rely on decision-making, such as responding to a fire or risk assessment - the impact of VR is unrivalled.

AR, despite often being bundled together with VR, is slightly different. John-Carlos Lozano, of Sweetrush Inc describes AR as the real world with objects superimposed onto a device. A great example of augmented reality in action is at Boeing, where employees use AR headsets to break down complex Aircraft assembly processes. Assembly time was reduced by 25% and errors almost eliminated entirely, says Natalie Kroc at SHRM.

Familiarity of both VR & AR is increasing, cost is decreasing, and software is advancing says Julia Pelton at Modest Tree. It’s easy to see how this becoming more popular as a vehicle within L&D.

Training Automation

It’s rare these days for training departments not to have invested in some form of automation. From LMS’s to CRM’s, and TMS’s to ERP tools (see our guide on jargon busting) - it seems we’re finally progressing from the days of lever-arch files and outdated spreadsheets. 45% of those surveyed in our Annual Training Industry Report told us they’re now using a training management system – this figure has more than doubled since 2016.

Despite this, 37% of people surveyed told us they’re still using spreadsheets to manage their training operations…yikes!

There’s an increasing awareness of the capabilities modern technology can bring to learning and development, with those reluctant to invest and adapt with digital progression simply struggling to compete. Here're  some tips on what automation can bring to your L&D department.

Soft Skills

Soft skills are personal attributes, typically linked to how you work and interact with others, which are necessary for success and your career development.

Alongside the mandatory training required to ensure compliance, leadership teams are now looking to ensure they’re up-skilling employees in areas such as management, sales, negotiation and more.

Besides productivity and performance benefits contributing to ROI, soft skills are great for improving teamwork, satisfaction & retention rates. A recent CIPD report on Employee Outlook found that 63% of those surveyed would change employer if they were offered a job with more training opportunities. It’s become quite a useful tool, if nothing else, to show that you care about their development.

Soft skills training can also allow professionals to differentiate themselves from technology and limit the risk of robots absorbing their job! CNBC have recently released the Top 10 most desirable Soft Skills to foster, heading into 2020 – let’s get training!


It would be remiss of us not to mention the elephant in the room - sorry! Despite us trying to see through the dust that still hasn’t settled, there’s a couple of key trends that have emerged in the industry this year, around Brexit.

Particularly for commercial organisations, much of this focuses on two things that go hand in hand; reducing costs and improving efficiency. Training businesses are becoming much more savvy and strategic; from marketing through to course delivery, in order to future-proof their business. There are some helpful tips on this in our Brexit guide for training companies.

To support the above, we’ve noticed an unprecedented increase in cost effective measures such as email marketing, which is up by 76% from 2018. Social media is used in some form by every entrant in our Training Industry Survey, with Linkedin being used by over half. Alongside attracting new business, customer retention and repeat custom is more important than ever.

eLearning has consistently (particularly for commercial training departments) proved a much more cost-effective modality over face to face training. From our survey, 60% of training providers are looking to implement some form of eLearning within the next 12 months.

Well there we have it, our round-up of 5 things to keep an eye on as we head into 2020. What changes can you see your training business or department making next year?

We’d love to hear your thoughts below.

Get more industry insights in our 2019 Training Industry Survey


Read more about the training industry:

- Online Vs Classroom Learning - What The Experts

- Why Your Training Company Should Be Running Events

- How To Increase Online Course Bookings Using Email Marketing