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How to Plan a Learning and Development Course

74% of learning and development professionals believe that skill building is the most critical part of rebuilding for the future.

Do you have a learning and development course coming up for your organisation’s members or employees? If you need help in planning one, read below for our structured guidance.

Before we begin, what is learning and development?

Learning and development involves improving the performance of an individual, group, or organisation by increasing their skills and knowledge. This is key to align the performance of individuals with your organisation’s overall goals. It is also known as training and development.

Step 1: The Skills Audit

This should be completed by the people in your organisation that are responsible for talent development. One-to-one interviews and performance appraisals can find out in which areas your employees need the most support.

This will be different for every single industry and organisation. It depends on the different pathways which people can go through after receiving training and development help. For instance, for the ICE we produced videos to help engineers study for examinations to become chartered members of the Institution. These examinations required the engineers to display certain theory and technical skills. A skills audit could identify which of these skills are already possessed and which require extra help for learners.

Step 2: The Action Plan

With a better idea of which skills require further training for your employees, it is time to turn these into actionable objectives. Make sure that these are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely) so that you can easily outline what career pathways can be developed, or what competence your employees should display in a certain area, and how long it should take for them.

One example of a SMART objective could be: for employees to move from “fairly confident” to “extremely confident” in a certain topic area by the end of your multiple-day conference/training course. The “timely” aspect of your objective will depend upon whether a certain objective concerns your employees’/members’ short or long term progression.

Without SMART objectives like this, after the course you will not be able to identify whether it has been as successful as you had aimed, because you will not have a clear benchmark to measure the results by.

These SMART objectives can show your learners beforehand exactly how the course should benefit them. This way, they can start the course with confidence without being unclear about how useful it will be. The attitude learners start a course with will greatly affect the volume of information they are ready to retain. Multiple courses have proved that learners with a positive attitude before the course will achieve better results.

With these objectives in mind, you can also develop an action plan with individual learners. It is worth starting them off with a book or webinar about the topic area they will be developing in. Let them look more into it and decide if it’s something that they would be willing to spend time or money learning about.

Step 3: Designing Your Learning and Development Programme

When it comes to designing your L&D programme, you should decide on whether it will be formal or informal.

Formal – A formal programme will typically involve paid training courses. These are often from an external training partner. This training partner will be found and approved by you. Some courses, particularly online ones, offer discounts for organisations that provide a certain number of employees with access to it. Consider if this would be easier to organise in terms of budgeting.

Informal – An informal programme involves providing your learners with literature, mentoring sessions, or video training, which they can look through either in their own time or during a set time slot.

Not sure whether formal or informal training programmes are better for your organisation? You could utilise both: if you have formal training seminars that work better for some of your learners, you could still record them. This way, they can be accessed on-demand in your informal learners’ own time.

Using this mix of formal and informal methods gives your learners a choice. They can collect their CPD points either in a formal setting, or informally at a time that better suits them. Not only can you collect discounts for putting your employees on a course, but you also do not have to re-host the same seminar multiple times for new learners who are onboarded onto the course. You can simply provide them with access to the video of a seminar that was recorded months ago. Therefore, you benefit from it long after it was first held.

No matter which method you use, you also need to consider how your learners will attend. Even after social distancing regulations have eased, there will be a proportion of learners (we estimate at least a quarter) who will prefer to attend online for safety reasons. This does not even take into account learners who simply are from different regions (or even countries) who are not allowed/would prefer not to travel cross-country or cross-continent to attend your event. This is another reason to ensure that your training course is livestreamed or recorded so that remote viewers can still learn despite geographical barriers.

Step 4: Evaluation

Learning and development courses are a time investment, and learners will want to know that it has been worthwhile.

You should show your learners how the course has helped them by encouraging them to feedback about what they have learnt about, and comparing this to the objectives that you developed before the course. You can then send these results to higher-ups in your HR or development teams, to establish why such courses should continue to be carried out, or make suggestions for improvements.

As you can see, SMART objectives are incredibly important in evaluating how successful a course has been. This is why Step 2 is so crucial.

Step 5: Further Knowledge Sharing

To motivate enthusiastic attitudes to training, and maintain your organisation as a space for constant learning, development and support, encourage learners to continue sharing which knowledge and skills they feel they still lack. Always welcome feedback, as it will serve as a map to further knowledge delivery.

Give your learners space to do this – if they feel as though it is a chore, they may be dissuaded from giving meaningful feedback, and L&D should not feel like a chore. Rather, it should always be something that excites learners to expand their horizons.

Step 6: Time to Plan Your Next Course

Now that your course is in full swing and you are constantly modifying it to suit the needs of your learners, it is time to plan your next programme. Especially if your organisation is an industry leader that is seeking to innovate your industry’s landscape.

If you need your next training course to be recorded, so that your learners can benefit from videos of past training sessions long after they have taken place, the next step when planning your next learning and development course should be to email CPDonline for high quality training livestreams and on-demand videos.

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