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Learning skills currently on the rise and the decline

Learning skills currently on the rise and the decline

We take a look at those learning and training skills most – and least – in demand right now.

Filed in Skills development

In a fast-moving industry such as learning, it's important to keep your finger on the pulse of which skills are most in demand - otherwise, you could find that the world's left you behind.

The skills of many learning professionals are portable - or semi-portable, which is to say that most learning professionals can reskill reasonably easily for a similar role. This makes it possible to remain relevant, regardless of technology changes or market trends - but it does require both an investment in time and the need to keep an eye on what's hot right now.

Training and learning sales

The biggest trend we've seen is the shift to the consultative sell. Although there's still a healthy demand for relatively low-skilled telesales people, the growth area is most definitely in the need for those who really do know their onions - sales people who fully understand what they are selling and can advise as readily as they can sell.

This is partly a knowledge of the product - for example, there's a strong demand for those who really understand e-learning as an education medium. Ultimately, this demand is client-driven - the employers' clients really want to talk to someone who can understand the needs of their business and play an active role in defining an e-learning solution.

This is a long, long way from the "do you need some training" approach and requires someone with solid product/service knowledge - not just at a 'facts and figures' level, but with a deep understanding of the processes and benefits.

IT training

The role of the IT trainer is definitely on the decline, possibly more than any other in the industry. While there's still a reasonable demand, most organisations are turning to e-learning for IT training, especially at the user level. The knock-on effect of this is that fewer classroom trainers are needed. Many of those who are still teaching are often supporting e-learning deployments as part of a blended learning programme. Technical IT trainers remain in demand, but even this role is being eaten into by e-learning.

Instructional designers and e-learning developers

The flip side of declining need for classroom trainers is that more and more people are required to develop the e-learning content that's replacing the classroom course. There's a wide range of skills required here, including some technical (such as multimedia, Flash and HTML5) but the core of the demand really is for instructional design - people who can take a topic and translate it into a high-quality, engaging learning programme.

Some of this demand is driven by new initiatives, but some is driven by the need to replace lower quality 'slideware' e-learning with something far better.

We're finding a strong demand for instructional designers and e-learning developers in both corporate learning departments and commercial e-learning companies - some businesses want to build their own team, some want to use external suppliers and some want to do both.

Soft skills training

Some topics either don't translate as well into e-learning or there is a resistance to translate them. Demand for soft skills trainers remains pretty constant, perhaps reflecting that the role requires a lot more than a 'chalk and talk' approach - rather an ability to lead, direct, coach and discuss at a far more personal and conceptual level. Whether this demand stays constant remains to be seen, but at the moment this skills area seems to be very much holding its own.

Learning technologies

As companies increasingly use e-learning, so they are implementing the infrastructure needed to support it. Those with a sound working and strategic knowledge of learning technologies - such as learning management systems, HR systems, virtual learning environments and so on - are very much in demand. Much of this demand comes from large corporate organisations which want to make a step change in how they manage learning - though there's also some demand for those who sell and advise on such systems. The skills requirements are fairly broad - knowledge of technology is vital, of course, but so is the ability to create a strategic vision and then project-manage it through to successful completion.

From supplier to corporate learning department

There's a definite increase in demand from corporate learning departments for those who have worked in a commercial learning company - people who have worked in demanding supplier roles and can operate with a stronger 'supplier focus' as an internal provider. Corporate learning departments see this as a route to obtaining learning programmes of a comparable quality to that which they can get externally, but perhaps at a lower cost, or with more control, or with the kind of tight connection to a company that only an employee can provide. 

More skills, skills, skills

An overall trend we've seen is that employers are becoming more exacting and demanding in their requirement criteria. As an example, if they're looking for an e-learning sales person, they're now a lot less likely to take someone with moderate exposure to e-learning but real expertise in classroom, then cross-skill them - they want access to someone who's been there, done that and got the t-shirt. If the company has expertise in a specific sector, then they will want to recruit people with direct experience in that sector.

The drivers for this are partly that the recruitment marketplace is currently favouring the employer (there's enough supply for them to be choosy) but also a raising of standards - people can't afford to get things wrong, so want to place exactly the right person.

Talk to Blue Eskimo

Whether you're looking to hire or be hired, why not contact us? As specialists who are 100% focused on recruitment for learning departments and companies, we can help find an exact match for your needs - either finding a company in need of your skills, or finding someone with precisely the skills your organisation needs.

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