Employees ‘being held back’ on mobile learning

Lack of support and tailored content hindering staff, says Towards Maturity report

Employees are increasingly willing to learn on the move or in their own time, according to a new report from L&D research organisation Towards Maturity – but businesses have been slow to provide tailored content or broader support to make mobile learning possible.

Learning and Performance on the Move – which pulled together the experiences of 1,600 UK employees and 600 senior L&D professionals – found that 90 per cent of workers now own a smartphone or tablet and 53 per cent rate the ability to access learning on a mobile device as either ‘essential’ or ‘very useful’.

But although two thirds of organisations offer some form of mobile learning, only 38 per cent are developing mobile-specific resources, and the numbers implementing mobile learning have remained static for two years. Fewer than one in five employees feel their L&D department encourages them to learn online.

With the proliferation of mobile workers, and the familiarity of millennials with mobile content, the time is ripe for a strategic shift, said Laura Overton, CEO of Towards Maturity: “New flexible and fluid working environments require L&D leaders to rethink how learning and performance is supported. This is not simply about putting existing content on a phone or tablet, it is about understanding how L&D can support a mobile workforce that is tech-savvy, connected and that learns more from peers and resources that are easily found at the point of need rather than formal interventions.”

In the 2015 CIPD Learning and Development survey, only a quarter of respondents said they plan to increase their use of mobile learning in the year ahead, making it significantly less of an L&D priority than coaching and mentoring, mobile classrooms or webinars.

The Towards Maturity report found that, while 37 per cent of employers provide smartphones or tablets to enable learning and 40 per cent support ‘bring your own device’, there are barriers to enabling fully fledged mobile learning. While cost is a concern, security was also cited by half of L&D respondents, and others are worried about variation in learners’ own devices, the complexity of providing support for mobile learning and the potential for losing control of corporate infrastructure.

But there is also a significant opportunity ahead. Three quarters of learners are prepared to use their own time to improve their skills and become more efficient, but only 16 per cent of managers allow staff time to learn at home, a figure that has decreased over the last five years.

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