Learning & Talent Development

Learning and Talent Development - Summary of key findings.

The 2010 Learning and Talent Development survey provides data on current and future learning and talent development issues and trends. This year the Chartered Institute Personnel and Development (CIPD) have explored the areas of employer support for learning, talent management, managing and evaluating coaching as well as economic circumstances and training spend.

Current and future trends in learning and talent development

  • The most effective learning and talent development practices are in-house development programmes (56%) and coaching by line managers (51%).
  • E-learning is the learning and talent development practice that has increased the most, with six in ten (62%) organisations saying they use it more than in 2009; in-house development programmes are also used more by 58% of organisations, and coaching by line managers is used more by 56%. Attendance at external conferences, workshops and events has decreased the most, with a quarter (26%) of organisations using it less.
  • Learning and talent development specialists are most likely (53%) to hold the main responsibility for employees' learning and talent development, followed by senior managers (33%), the HR department (30%) and line managers (29%). Employees/learners are mostly expected to show 'some' involvement (54%), but few (17%) organisations expect them to be mainly responsible for their own learning.
  • The two main tasks for learning and talent development specialists are to deliver courses (46%) and to manage the overall planning of learning (46%).
  • For almost half (46%) of organisations, the major organisational change affecting learning and talent development in the next five years will be a greater integration between coaching, organisational development and performance management to drive organisational change. For almost four in ten (37%), it will be greater responsibility devolved to line managers.

Employee skills

  • The main gaps in skills identified by organisations continue to be business skills/acumen and commercial awareness, and management/leadership skills.
  • The skills which employers say they need to focus on in order to meet their business objectives in two years' time are mainly leadership skills (65%), front-line people management skills (55%), and business acumen/awareness (51%).
  • Looking more closely at leadership skills, the main gaps identified by employers are performance management (setting standards for performance and dealing with underperformance), and leading and managing change.
  • The main focus of leadership development activities in the next 12 months will be improving the skills of leaders to think in a more strategic and future-focused way, and enabling the achievement of the organisation's strategic goals, as cited by four in ten organisations (42% and 39% respectively).
  • School leavers are seen to be most lacking in business skills/acumen and commercial awareness (59%), closely followed by management/leadership skills (54%) and communication/interpersonal skills (53%). The main gap in skills for university graduates differs slightly, as most employers would like to see better management/leadership skills (59%), followed by the same business skills/acumen and commercial awareness (56%) that school leavers lack the most. Employees coming from another organisation are less likely to be seen as deficient in skills. Management/leadership skills are still cited, but only by three in ten (29%) employers.


  • Almost eight in ten employers (78%) consider that internships are beneficial to interns in the long run, and three-quarters (76%) think they can be used as a way to test potential new staff.
  • A majority (69%) see internships as a good way to develop new talent in an industry sector, while only a third (33%) say that interns help firms to improve productivity. About half believe they are a cost-effective resource (52%), and that they can help to develop management and leadership skills among existing staff (50%).
  • The most common way for UK organisations to remunerate their interns is to pay them more than the national minimum wage for adults, but less than a full-time salary comparable to other workers (29%), while 18% do not pay them any salary, but cover their travel expenses.

Learning and talent development (L&TD) in international organisations

  • For almost two-thirds of international organisations (64%), learning and talent development is seen as a key driver for the international aspects of the business. Almost six in ten (57%) also see it as key to having trained expatriate and local staff in international locations, while only a quarter (27%) of international organisations do not think it features that highly in their international strategy. However, only a third of international organisations (34%) carry out specific learning and talent development with managers who have international responsibilities.
  • This specific learning and talent development includes coaching and mentoring methods for eight in ten (83%) of those organisations carrying it out, training on-the-job for three-quarters (74%), and classroom courses and instruction for seven in ten (72%).
  • To nurture talent, most international organisations use companywide talent management programmes for high potentials (55%), coaching and mentoring to help international staff move into key roles (38%), and experienced expatriate staff to mentor and develop local talent (23%).
  • In order to meet business objectives in two years' time, international organisations consider that their expatriate staff need to develop management and leadership skills (42%). However, four in ten (40%) international organisations also believe that their expatriate staff need to develop intercultural skills to help raise awareness of other cultures.
  • Although only just over a third (36%) currently have programmes to equip their staff in foreign languages training, three in ten (29%) international organisations say their staff require training in English, a quarter (23%) in French, two in ten (18%) in Spanish, and a quarter (17%) in German. For these last three languages, an understanding of technical terms and a conversational level is the most important, while fluency in English training is a need for three-quarters of such employers (73%).

Talent management

  • Almost six in ten (59%) organisations undertake talent management activities. Among these, half (50%) rate these as 'effective', although only 3% consider them 'very effective'.
  • Talent management activities tend to be directed at high-potential employees and senior managers.
  • The main objectives of talent management activities are to develop high-potential employees (67%) and to grow future senior managers/leaders (67%). The third main objective is to meet the future skills requirements of the organisation (36%).
  • The three most effective activities to manage talent are coaching (39%), in-house development programmes (32%), and high-potential development schemes (31%).
  • The three most common ways to evaluate talent management activities are to obtain feedback from line managers (42%), to measure the retention of those identified as high-potential (35%), and the anecdotal observation of change (35%).


  • Eight in ten employers (81%) integrate diversity and equality considerations in their talent management processes to at least some extent. Two in ten employers do not integrate diversity or are unaware if they do.
  • The main diversity challenges facing employers include ensuring that all employees are given an equal opportunity to develop their full potential (across all locations) and getting managers to embrace diversity and accept cultural differences (both mentioned by 4% of organisations). The lack of applications from diverse ethnic groups/ethnic minorities comes third, with 3% of employers considering diversity mentioning it. However, employers cite many key successes and learnings that they have gained from integrating diversity into talent management, especially in having access to a wider pool of potential candidates.

Managing and evaluating coaching

  • Coaching takes place in eight in ten (82%) organisations. Among those in which it does, only a third (36%) have a system to evaluate it. Systems rely mainly on the collection of post-course evaluations (58%), individuals' testimonies (56%), on assessing the impact on business key performance indicators (KPIs) of coaching (44%), and measuring the return on expectation (40%).
  • When considering coaching interventions, seven in ten organisations either frequently or occasionally discuss with the line managers and coaches the organisation's expectations of the intervention (71%), and assess the likelihood that individuals/a team will benefit from coaching before embarking on it (69%).
  • While using interventions, a third frequently discuss the progress of individual coaching interventions at appraisal and performance reviews, and two in ten (18%) frequently collect and analyse data about the progress of coaching at agreed intervals.

Economic circumstances and training spend

  • Two-thirds (65%) of responding organisations declare that their economic circumstances have declined in the past 12 months, compared with 46% in 2009, when the recession had already begun.
  • It is not surprising that funds available for learning and development in the past 12 months have decreased for over half (52%) of organisations, while only one in ten employers (11%) expect these to increase in the year to come.
  • Learning and Training Development departments' headcounts have largely remained the same in the last year, while resources available have stayed the same for four in ten (41%), and decreased by a similar proportion of organisations.
  • Main changes in organisations' learning and talent development departments over the last year included the department becoming more business-focused (38%), a reduction in external suppliers and a move to in-house provision (31%), and redundancies of staff (20%).
  • Eight in ten organisations (78%) have a training budget; for half of organisations this is over £200,000, and for half of them this is under £200,000. This represents an increase of nearly £90,000 from last year. The median number of employees it covers has increased too, from 500 last year to 785 in 2010.
  • Among UK organisations, a quarter (25%) consider themselves 'very' or 'fairly' successful at securing government funding, notably apprenticeship funding (57%) and Train to Gain for basic skills funding (53%).
  • Training budgets cover external courses and conferences for nine in ten (88%) organisations, hiring external consultants and trainers for eight in ten (83%), but only cover salaries for in-house trainers in two-fifths (40%) of organisations.
  • Seven in ten (71%) keep a record of the number of training/development days employees receive every year. This represents a median of four days among organisations which track such data.