We caught up with Chief Commercial Officer Jake Maxwell after his first few months with LiveTime Learning. We talk learning technology, workplace training and the L&D agenda…
Your career in commercial management and digital learning spans several years – no doubt you’ve seen a few changes to the learning technology and L&D industries?
The number of companies providing learning technology has grown enormously – it’s no longer a handful of specialists offering digital learning solutions. That said, I’ve seen a lot of consolidation and buy-outs too.
Recently I’ve noticed a decline in the use of “off the shelf” authoring tools – learning professionals want to provide truly bespoke digital learning experiences for their people.
You attended Learning Technologies this year – what common themes arose from the conversations you had?
The change in venue and the lengthy journey to get to Excel! I’m only joking – it’s a great venue for such a growing event.
A key theme was personalisation – the need to customise content and provide bespoke learning experiences. There really is no more “one-size-fits all”; “general” isn’t cutting it. Rather than delivering digital learning for the masses, technology providers and L&D teams are now collaborating to ensure individuals receive customised learning to meet their own skills gaps and development needs.
What key challenges are L&D teams facing across sectors today?
Generally, L&D teams are under resourced and are now being asked to take on a lot more. Positive wellbeing and learning are starting to connect, and this is a very different prospect to running compliance or leadership programmes. There is a pressure on L&D professionals to educate staff on work-life balance and fulfilment. Not only does this create more openness about mental health – which is important – but it contributes to lowering absence rates, raising employee engagement and increasing productivity.
With Millennials set to make up a third of the global workforce by the end of this year, how are organisations delivering effective L&D to a multi-demographical audience?
Remote-working is starting to re-define company culture and provide the trust and autonomy Millennials look for in an employer; their colleagues are reaping the benefits of this. There are multiple, cost-effective online tools available to support this flexible approach versus the outdated 9-5.
I think tools such as Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams etc are used for learning far more than the LMS. Platforms like Zoom and GoToMeeting are encouraging collaboration and bringing people together to learn as a team; webinars, virtual classrooms etc. Social learning is happening too, but it seems L&D teams are still unable to track this. I’m not sure they need to either.
Do you think face-to-face workplace training is slowly becoming a thing of the past?
No, and it never will be. So many clients I speak to understand the direct and indirect benefits of people meeting, networking and communicating. But regular face-to-face training is an expensive option for organisations with smaller budgets, especially those with learners in multiple locations and offices. There is a real benefit in offering a combination of face-to-face training and bespoke digital learning to meet learners’ needs – and the organisation’s budget!
What do today’s workforce expect from an employer to support their professional development?
Freedom to learn what they want! There is an understanding that mandatory training needs to be undertaken – health and safety, compliance etc but that empowerment and encouragement just to learn is expected. Millennials have been empowered most of their lives to achieve what they want to achieve, when they want to.
Some organisations will need to shift their mindset from the traditional “How does this training support your role and the aims of the business?” Improving soft skills, for example, benefits both the employee and the employer, but there are many indirect benefits to learning even if the link to the employee’s current role may be tenuous. I think there is a balance to be found.
Digital learning, online learning, e-learning – is the terminology all one and the same?!
“e-Learning” conjures up a negative emotion in most people’s minds so learning professionals and technology providers tend to stay away from it nowadays. “Online learning” reminds me of the early distance courses and Internet led approaches. “Digital learning” doesn’t restrict and is a good catch-all that also encompasses technology – AI, machine learning and VR etc. In my mind there is face-to-face training in a physical space and then there is digital learning.
Jake previously worked in senior-level roles for Lumesse Learning, Brightwave Group and The Learning People, directing international commerce and partnership strategies. He manages new business for LiveTime Learning, builds relationships and collaborates with partner organisations.