Training directors are uniquely positioned to identify skill gaps!

May 13, 2019 Colette Wade

Did you know that 92% of all surveyed businesses are undergoing digital transformation?

At present, about one in five businesses say that they are unable to retrain and develop talent. This is creating a significant gap in their skills pools and adds to the challenges that Training Directors face. Training Directors in Sweden (23%), Germany (20%) and Spain (22%) are finding it even more difficult to retrain and develop talent than their European counterparts.

The truth is that the most successful Training Directors work a bit differently. Research by the IDC showed that they are very team and outcome-oriented, harnessing teamwork to achieve companywide development goals. Nevertheless, they seem less optimistic when it comes to social collaboration compared to the rest of the company, perhaps due to the fact that many organisations think of training as a linear and staged process that bears no real connection to the business targets of the organisation. This could not be further from the truth, and it is a training pitfall that Learning & Development Directors must make every effort to avoid.

With nine companies out of ten undergoing digital transformation, training directors are tasked with enriching the skills pool of the workforce and keeping engagement levels high, ensuring there is a productive workforce that finds work rewarding and interesting.

"Learning on the job" is an important aspect of today's training best practices, with almost 50% of businesses relying on it as the primary means of growing talent internally. However, this is not a "one-size-fits-all" situation. Training Directors should be aware that coaching and mentoring schemes, external classes, online courses, executive education and knowledge sharing can add value to their development schemes. In short, a good Training Director should beware of falling into one of these extremes: either focusing on a limited set of training practices that may not now resonate with the employees or becoming a fashion victim of the latest learning technology fad.

The research also showed that Training Directors have a uniform view about the required time for development. An in-depth training program should typically take about 10 weeks, which roughly corresponds to an academic semester. This allows employees to break down the programme and manage the workload in an efficient way and not see it as an additional burden that hampers their daily schedule.

This way, development becomes a part of the employees' KPIs, keeps them engaged and allows the Training Director to form a concrete opinion in terms of skill gaps and needs. This is how their role can strategically evolve and begin preparing the organisation to deal with medium and long-term challenges, whilst at the same time dealing with the short-term needs of employees and LoB managers.

There is a need for a delicate balance to be struck here and Training Directors have to be careful to maintain context for their role and responsibilities. Looking at training and development disconnected from the long-term strategy of the business, and forgetting about immediate needs that micro-learning could cover is another major pitfall that they should be looking to avoid!

We all know that the wave of digital transformation has been putting pressure on businesses right across Europe. But how much do we know about the actual level of impact and the overall reaction to this pressure? In a unique new study, IDC worked together with Cornerstone OnDemand to understand how this is impacting organisations and discovered a range of different strategies being implemented to deal with some of these internal pressures. Whether it’s the availability of talent or recruiting for the age of disruption there are many new challenges facing organisations today.


  • Understand stakeholder expectations by clearly articulating the intended development outcomes and align resources accordingly to keep focus on meaningful measures.

  • Identify the jobs and skills that require (re)training and development.

  • Leverage training and development as a means of cultural change as the organisation embraces digital transformation as a business priority.


  • Don’t get stuck in traditional training methodologies because “it’s the way it was done before” but consider mixed alternatives to engage different generations and audiences.
  • Don’t ignore the value and impact of using informal learning programs for senior executives, as they have a profound impact on organisational development and company culture.
  • Don’t limit yourself to simple learning tracking reports but leverage the power of modern Human Capital Management tools to analyse the impact of people development

[check out the results from the study here]

About the Author

Colette Wade

Colette Wade is Cornerstone OnDemand's Vice President of Marketing, having joined the company in 2011. She is responsible for overseeing all of Cornerstone's European Marketing operations.

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