New research ROA

Work-related learning drops in first covid year

Training participation among workers has dropped from 54 percent in 2017 to 51 percent in 2020. The time spent on tasks from which one can learn has also decreased. This decrease in work-related learning seems to be the result of the pandemic. However, the importance of informal learning in the total learning time among workers remains high: of the total time spent on learning activities in 2020, no less than 91 percent relates to informal learning at work. This and more emerges from the report 'Lifelong learning in the Netherlands' by the Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA) of Maastricht University.

The extent of informal learning is strongly linked to the learning culture in the organisation where one works. In organisations where employees feel that they are helping each other to learn and that time is spent on building up trust, more is learned from the work they do. While the learning culture of organisations did not change over the past years, it appears that the learning culture has become more important in facilitating learning at work. The effectiveness of a good learning culture therefore seems to have increased. However, in 2020 workers did receive less often feedback from their colleagues than in previous years.

The fact that there was also less training participation in 2020 seems to be the result of a decrease in the extent to which companies used HR instruments which are aimed at the performance and development of their staff. "In 2020, probably as a result of the pandemic, less attention was paid to, for instance, performance interviews, personal training or development plans and coaching. These HR instruments play an important role in whether or not people participate in training," says research leader Annemarie Künn. To increase learning among workers, it is therefore important that companies further develop their learning culture and use HR tools to facilitate and encourage their staff to engage in lifelong development.

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