Industry Insights

Enterprise Training in 2021

Emerging trends and key observations from a year of dynamic change.

Businesspeople in a meeting in modern boardroom through a glass pane.

Executive Summary

The 2021 Inflection Point

Adjustments in training find staying power as emerging trends.

Sweeping workforce changes, workplace distribution, and supply chain difficulties – driven by pandemic response – and looming regulatory changes have created a sea change. How, when, and how often training needs arise remain dynamic across sectors.

Administrate’s Annual Industry Report

Understanding leading concerns, trends, and insights is crucial to representing data-driven recommendations in board rooms where the rapidly changing environment is faced on a daily basis.

In an effort to better understand our industry and serve our customers and partners, we’ve been tracking and charting key training program data since 2015. As you can imagine, things have become very interesting in the past 18 months. As this year’s report reveals, adjustments driven by pandemic organizational changes are sticking around, showing signs of trend influence that will extend into 2022 and beyond.

About the data

  • Blackboard icon.
    177 Training Organizations
  • Graduate cap icon.
    2.4 M Learners
  • Timeline icon.
    2016 - 2021 Data

Other industries included in the study:

  • Agriculture
  • Education Management
  • Financial Services
  • Higher Education
  • Hospitality
  • Management Consulting
  • Manufacturing
  • Oil and Energy
  • Professional Services
  • Sports and Leisure
  • Transportation and Logistics

As we arrive in 4Q2021, we’re observing strategic, financial, and tactical trends and insights that we believe will shape enterprise training in 2022 and beyond. 

Trend 1

Training Volume and Drivers in 2021

Surge in training continues: 42% increase in unique training events from 2020.

Man gesturing at schedule and calendar planner on a woman's monitors in a modern office.

In a workforce already facing high demand for reskilling and upskilling, COVID-19 brought additional training needs to the forefront as businesses faced the need to adapt to distributed teams, rapidly evolving safety and travel protocols, and supply chain impacts that altered their daily operations. Additionally, workers elected to utilize work from home to broaden their education and skills.

Average Training Events Per Month

The following data includes instructor-led, virtual instructor-led, elearning, mlearning (microlearning), and self-paced modalities across population of 177 training organizations.

While the increase in training events was felt almost universally, key industries proved to be drivers among our sample. Predictably, Healthcare registered an exponential increase in training volume, followed by strong showings from Compliance and Construction training events.

Other sectors, including Manufacturing, Food and Agriculture, and IT services remained steady, while Finance, Management Consulting, and Education Management all dipped below 2020 levels, in terms of training activities offered through Administrate. 

Volume of Active Learners

Employees continue to need and seek very high levels of training during this period. Our data witnesses a remarkable 106% increase in learners enrolled, year-over-year among our sample.

Differences Across Sectors

Verticals Increasing

  • Healthcare
  • Higher Education
  • Compliance

Verticals Decreasing

  • Manufacturing
  • Professional Services

2021 data: 76% increase in active learners across our sample.

2022 and Beyond

The “Great Resignation”: Training’s Role in Producing Organizational Stability

Surveys abound regarding what Texas A&M professor, Anthony Klotz, first termed “the Great Resignation” – the growing trend of job change, this side of the COVID-19 pandemic. “The numbers range from 26% to 40%,” Tech Republic reported earlier this year.1 Driven by hybrid work priorities, salary, and benefit opportunities, many workers are ready for a change they can control: where they work.

Learning leaders know the shift is real, whatever the percentage. Upskilling, reskilling, and onboarding are all doing heavy lifting in this evolving workforce. As the global economy recovers and supply chain issues resolve, training teams will play an essential role in stabilizing the workforce for their organizations, ensuring certification and skill continuity throughout their operation. And, they will need the right data to make those determinations.

Strategic Play for 2022

Training Data-Driven Decisions

Most enterprise training teams depend on nine to twelve different learning technologies to plan, organize, and deliver their training. How well is your training data aggregated from those systems and what can you accurately forecast for your organization from it?

Learn more about how to approach your training data with a business intelligence mindset with our ebook.

Trend 2

The Distributed Workforce and Learning Modality Utilization

Male student wearing headphones and taking notes while in an online training course.

When the pandemic made it’s global arrival early on in 2020, many businesses made a rapid shift to remote work environments. For numerous training teams, this shift included an urgent transposition from in-person training to virtual instructor led training on Zoom or other video conferencing platforms. 

In our data, we see affirming indicators that COVID-19 has solidified the multi-modal training mix across industries. The question remains as to what the long-term implications might be, and how that may differ across sectors. While still early in the “new normal,” there are some points worth considering as you plan your 2022 training strategy – and the technology you’ll need to support them.

The Training Delivery Ecosystem

Data on eLearning, vILT, in-person, and mLearning.

While LMS utilization remained predictably high in 2021, we did begin to see a leveling off of virtual instructor-led training utilization toward the end of Q3.

LMS-Delivered eLearning

Training organizations either fell more in love or fell more out of love with their LMS this past year. Reliance on this essential enterprise training tool has more than doubled in the past year, with use still on the rise.

Sectors reporting the most significant increase in elearning events in 2021:

  • Healthcare
  • Construction
  • Manufacturing
  • Compliance
  • Higher Education

vILT Comes of Age

Prior to 2020, virtual instructor-led training (vILT) was a nice-to-have option for many training teams. Of course, that changed very quickly as workers were told to stay home. The fast integration of vILT courses continues to impact enterprise training in a big way – by a factor of 3X – but the rate of increased use for this modality has begun to level off and even decline a bit in recent months among our sample population. As some industries return to work fully or in a hybrid fashion, some in-person learning has returned as well, reducing the reliance on vILT.

Nonetheless, deep lessons were learned from 2020. Virtual instructor-led training is here to stay as organizational resilience has become a watchword among strategic leaders. The reality remains that the pandemic is not over and variants could create change again. Businesses today, however, are more ready than ever to accommodate a rapid change in the learning environment, and learners also are now more technology adept.

In-Person Training

After dropping to its low point in April 2020, in-person instructor-led training has started to make a slow comeback. This is particularly true within verticals that are seeking to adapt quickly to reopening or have sustained high classroom training needs throughout the pandemic: Transportation and Logistics, Compliance, and Construction.

The Integration of mLearning

The utilization of email and SMS messaging to deliver and reinforce microlearning via mobile device remains a new tool for some businesses, but it is finding a significant role in others. In the Administrate platform, training teams can automate email and SMS delivery of content, reminders, and information for all course templates and all modalities. This data provides us with a glimpse of how training teams are leveraging this emerging approach as we continue to find a way forward with hybrid work environments and workforce changes.

As the chart displays, use of this modality remains new, but increasingly is looked to for just-in-time procedural changes and reinforcement of learning acquired through other modalities. Manufacturing is one vertical in which this growth proves significant. This is an area to watch in 2022.

2022 and Beyond

Automation as Key to Managing Learner Engagement

With diverse modalities, driving learner engagement in ways that transcend learning context is crucial. Keeping up with engagement, however, is a huge challenge for most tightly-staffed training teams.

In addition to SMS automation, Administrate has the capability to automate email, certificate awards, and digital badges. What difference can this make? When Royal Caribbean Group implemented Administrate, their training team saved 87% of their time previously sending manual email to learners. Read the full case study here.

Whether ensuring a positive learner experience or commending learners for their achievements that add value to the workforce, Administrate can make learning engagement reliable, seamless, and efficient for your training team.

Trend 3

Emerging Trends in Training Investment

What 2021 priorities imply for 2022.

Middle-aged boss giving business paper financial report to diverse employees or clients business partners at office group meeting.

In 2020, a massive wave of course creation hit in the April-May time period, mainly represented by in-person training being converted quickly to some form of distance learning. This urgency and trend has leveled off to about the mean level from 2016-2019. Industries seeing an increase in course creation include Financial Services and Oil and Energy, two, highly regulated and highly specialized sectors. 

Revenue for Training Sold

Among training organizations that sell or charge for their training services, revenue held an overall but somewhat unsteady increase, with a slight uptick in progress at the time of this report.

Not all businesses maintain adequate resources internally to produce training and augmenting training catalogs and diversifying modalities remains a clear need into 2022. Organizations that produce training are likely to continue to see spikes throughout the coming year, particularly as compliance and regulatory industries receive new guidelines and as supply chain slowdowns return to normal.

The Higher Education sector is definitely driving the growth against revenue as more and more professionals choose to utilize this time to return to enhance their education or pursue a new career direction. 

2022 & BEYOND

The Reskilling/Upskilling Challenge

The World Economic Forum reported in January 2021 that approximately 40% of workers world-wide will need to reskill or upskill by 2025 in order for business growth to meet demand. Evidence of this crossroads is already apparent in data from the United States’ Bureau of Labor and Statistics which reported 9.3 million jobs open while 9.3 million remained unemployed April-May, 2021 (2).

Bringing together workers with the right skills for jobs available that meet the demands of the market and workforce will be an on-going challenge for talent managers into the next several years.

Outlook

How to Future-Proof Training in 2022

Three ways leading training programs will evolve next year.

Office conference room meeting where a woman executive delivers a strategic presentation to a diverse team of training professionals.

After reviewing the data and discussing these outcomes with training leaders who are championing some of the most innovative training programs today, we believe there are leading indicators of at least three strategic priorities that future-minded training programs will be focused on in 2022 and beyond.  

1.

Efficient, effective training operations is integral to maintaining organizational agility in this dynamic workforce.

An increase in the volume of training with a relatively flat rate of new course development is but one indicator of a high and growing burden on training operations. 

More learners need to complete core training, whether onboarding, upskilling to business critical roles, or adopting rapidly evolving regulatory changes. Managing this volume in a way that delivers against business KPIs, engages learners, and augments employee satisfaction to minimize turnover requires a highly calibrated set of operational tools, controls, and reports to execute.

Although the world economy is beginning to emerge from pandemic impacts, enough uncertainty will persist well into 2022 that will prohibit many businesses from adding administrative and training program staff. Facing this operational volume challenge will fall heavily to technology. 

Future-proof Action

Assess your learning technology stack. Understand how and where it can provide more robust support to your team, whether through task automation, system integrations, or aggregated reporting deliverables.

2.

The perpetuation of some level of a distributed workforce long term (and maybe permanently) will further drive the digital transformation trend for enterprise training.

Beyond understanding what is in your learning tech stack, having a blueprint for the role that you want technology to play in your training program is going to be more essential than ever. 

Understanding the new normal for your organization (distributed, hybrid, or in-office) and intentionally building in experiences that balance essential in-person connection with efficient digital experiences may require a new way of thinking for some teams.

This is an opportunity to take control of your tech destiny as a program and to lay a technology foundation that supports the experience you want to deliver instead of a fatalistic result of software daisy-chained together, task by task. For some, bringing in a training operations infrastructure platform like Administrate may be the first step toward establishing a configurable, scalable, and reportable learning technology framework that allows your team to meet the volume and strategic challenges ahead.

Future-proof Action

Explore the new class of learning technology in training operations platforms and consider when this approach may be timely for your training organization. You can begin with this guide, “Do We Need a Training Operations Platform? Five Questions to Ask.”

3.

Data-driven decisions from the training function will prove strategically and competitively important in 2022 and beyond.

Effective training strategy is only becoming more business critical. An essential part of Training’s ability to contribute to the leadership of the business rests in its capability to access, apply, and extend the story told by data from the training function. Acquiring a business intelligence mindset for training data will empower organizations to more accurately assess and anticipate workforce needs, as well as strategic opportunities available within their team. 

The challenge is that many training software tools have not been orchestrated to support reporting insight beyond simple activity. Aggregating training data is often a spreadsheet-based, manual task, let alone automation of any analysis to spot trends. Training teams that harness data well will find themselves at the forefront of leading the organization, no longer just a response team to the strategy waterfall.

Future-proof Action

Take an active role in designing the data architecture your organization needs from your training program. Align training outcomes with organizational KPIs in an automated way to enable rapid response and innovation.

Curious as to how other CLOs are thinking about this? Check out a recent webinar with Bill Magagna, Global Head of Digital Infrastructure at Siemens Healthineers.

From John Peebles, CEO of Administrate

A Word After

Resilience, not restoration, is the name of the game.

In the many ups and downs of the past eighteen months of the pandemic, one thing has become clear: the world is not going back to a prior setting of normal once we are past this historic crisis. We will move forward into a new normal that is yet to be defined.

Living in ambiguity is perhaps a particular skill familiar to learning leaders. As inherent visionaries, we’re able to inhabit the not-yet while still remaining clear-eyed and methodically strategic toward the future. Helping our organizations find this space of resilience is part of our work in 2022.

We can do this by grounding our organizations and ourselves in well-constructed data models and analysis. We can craft our systems and structures for agility, as if building a skyscraper in an earthquake zone. We can affirm and model human investment as the singular constant of every successful enterprise. And, we keep going.

We hope this report has been helpful to you and your team. The training operations experts at Administrate are ready to offer you further insight and support with your training management, whenever you’d like to reach out.

All the best in 2022.

John Peebles

CEO of Administrate

END NOTES

1. Combs, Veronica. (2021, May 25). The Great Resignation of 2021: Are 30% of Workers Really Going to Quit?. TechRepublic.com. https://www.techrepublic.com/article/the-great-resignation-of-2021-are-30-of-workers-really-going-to-quit/. Accessed September 30, 2021.

2. McDonald, Paul. (2021, June 9). As Businesses Prepare For The Future Of Work, The Need To Upskill And Reskill Workers Becomes More Essential. Forbes.com. https://www.forbes.com/sites/paulmcdonald/2021/06/09/as-businesses-prepare-for-the-future-of-work-the-need-to-upskill-and-reskill-workers-becomes-more-essential/. Accessed September 30, 2021.