Public sector learning pros brace for budget cuts

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Almost two thirds of public sector learning and development professionals are bracing themselves for budget cuts over the year ahead as they find themselves on the front line to make savings.

 
According to a survey of more than 500 IT training specialists undertaken by the Institute of Information Technology Training, some 63% expect to experience cuts during 2011, a rise of 16% on last year.
 
As a result, ITT chief executive Colin Steed said that trainers were increasingly looking at ways of “modernising” their approach to learning and development. “More public sector teams are starting to use e-learning and live online learning tools to deliver training. They’re also placing greater emphasis on demonstrating their value to the organisation and raising their internal profile,” he explained.
 
The news came as HR research and consulting firm Bersin & Associates warned that a rise in the use of mobile devices in the workplace meant that training professionals would need to rethink their attitudes, methods and practices relating to the provision of learning via the channel if they wanted to support changing business requirements.
 
The growing employment of consumer devices such as smartphones and tablets at work meant that the amount of mobile learning activities undertaken by US workers rose from 9% in 2007 to about 20% or more in 2010, the report said.
 
The study entitled ‘m-Learning: Mobile Learning is Finally Going Mainstream – And It is Bigger Than You Might Think’ also indicated that mobile applications were used much more for informal than formal learning purposes by enabling staff in order to access the knowledge and expertise they required when and where they needed it.
 
Josh Bersin, president and chief executive of Bersin & Associates, said: “Today’s enterprise learning functions risk becoming irrelevant if they do not rapidly respond to the power of new mobile technologies to both deepen and hasten the sharing of information across organisations, and to the changing needs and expectations for learning by new generations and geographies of employees.”
 
He cited Accenture and Coca-Cola as two companies that had benefited from employing mobile learning techniques. Accenture developed a uPodcast programme to enable managers and subject matter experts to their share knowledge with other workers at a minimal cost. To date, 11% of the total workforce or 20,000 staff have accessed 180 podcasts.
 
Coca-Cola, meanwhile, used an alternate reality game developed by Kelley Executive Partners to help staff understand how millennial consumers used social media in order to develop a more effective marketing strategy.

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