2022 marked the 30th year in my Education and Learning & Development (L&D) career, with the last 17 years spent with my own training consulting company Learning Just Made Better, Inc. or LJMB.
While the Covid-19 pandemic was a global disruption, it was meaningful for me to see how the L&D practice rapidly transformed in the last 3 years. While video delivery has been around for some time (my first video training was back in 2008 using a Tandberg equipment – a TV unit with a camera mounted at the top), the world grudgingly embraced it in March 2020 as a means of communication and training. For almost 3 years, Zoom, Teams, and Google Meet has been our go to platform for virtual training.
Having sold, designed and delivered more than 700 virtual training classes to close to 200 companies since the 2020 lockdown (I just resumed F2F sessions in May 2022, ending the year with 39), I have interacted with many decision makers and L&D professionals and thousands of training participants in the virtual space. I have heard their pain points, frustrations and struggles as well as their work-arounds and solutions. Our company’s flagship product since the lockdown was our blended learning program, which met the needs of most of our corporate clients for a shorter, more compressed training duration without compromising learning effectiveness.
In 2022, more companies started their return-to-office (RTO) efforts, more face-to-face (F2F) training can now be made possible. As we entered a ‘post-peak pandemic period’ in the second half last year, companies revived F2F training classes, planning workshops, and team building sessions.
As I reflect on how the training industry in the Philippines will be in 2023, here are 8 forecasts that may guide you whether you’re an in-house L&D leader or professional trainer, or a third-party training vendor or learning partner.
1. January is wait-and-see month. Remember Jan 2022 when ‘almost everyone’ in Metro Manila were either confirmed to have Covid-19 Omicron variant or sick with Covid symptoms but just went through with treatment & quarantine without getting tested. Just like during pre-pandemic days, decision-makers and Learning & Development (L&D) leaders are still finalizing 2023 business plans and training plans given the busy Q4 2022.
2. After January, I see a significant increase in training activities in 2023. From 2020 to 2021, reductions in training activities were due to budget cuts or decision makers lack of confidence in the effectiveness of virtual training sessions. The Omicron surges in January and June 2022 slowed down or postponed what otherwise could have been strong re-investments in employee training. The latter part of 2022 was a trial period for big group face-to-face training events as companies started holding conventions, conferences and workshops. This 2023, barring any other crisis with impact similar to the pandemic, demand for training workshops will boom again just like pre-pandemic levels.
3. February-to-May will see an explosion of Team Building sessions, either as stand-alone programs or integrated with National Sales Conventions/ Conferences, Summer Outing, Planning Workshops and other similar company events. Before the pandemic, February to May (summer months) is already a peak season for team buildings. Everyone had to wait until now to have big group team events again, with the usual physically and mentally challenging team hurdles (that often require physical contact – and hence, impossible to do during the 2020-2022 social distancing and wear-your-mask period). While a lot of companies started doing face-to-face team events in 2022, they were still in small groups (project teams and departments) and not entire companies going offsite. I can imagine, as an external team building partner, a wide range of themed team buildings – by the beach, in the forest, in campsites, the outdoor Amazing Race or Team Extra Challenge. So get ready L&D Teams, Training Consultants and Team Building trainers. Get your suitcases (or boxes) of team building materials ready.
4. Demand for virtual training classes will significantly drop. My ‘guess-timates’ are anywhere from 30-60% of virtual training will go back to face-to-face mode. But virtual training is still here to stay. It will still continue for:
Companies with continued WFH or hybrid work arrangements. Given the individualized on-site work schedules, It will be difficult to mandate 100% of the target participants to be on-site.
- Short-duration courses (from 2-4 hours)
- Companies with a distributed or global workforce. It will no longer be practical to have employees from the provinces or other countries travel/ fly in, especially for training that happens only for 1 day or even less.
- Courses that focus on individual skills and hence not requiring team activities/ group work or collaborative effort.
- Courses that are heavy on one-way dissemination of information (e.g. lecture-heavy, cascade type of sessions).
5. Virtual training will become easier and more convenient with more and more user-friendly features released by platforms (immersive backgrounds, slides as virtual background, improved chat features, more emojis). I noticed significant improvements in Zoom, Google Meet and Webex (You may Google their new, cool features). MS Teams, when will life be better for trainers doing virtual classes?
6. Face-to-face (F2F) training sessions surge. It will be the preferred mode of delivery in the following cases:
- Companies with most (if not all) employees are already working on-site
- Courses that last for at least a day (8 hours) or more.
- Companies with most (if not all) employees are co-located (working under ‘one roof’/ location)
- Workshops that involve group activities and require team collaboration to get course requirements done (e.g. team building, project management, problem solving & decision making, planning and brainstorming)
- Courses that involve role plays and demonstration of skills best shown through face-to-face venues (e.g. selling, customer service, presentation, training delivery, technical equipment operation etc.)
7. L&D practitioners will upgrade their training design and delivery skills to support both the “new normal” face-to-face classes (same old but will require more gamification which we had a lot of during the virtual training in WFH years), the continuously evolving virtual classes and hybrid sessions. While buying expensive technology (interactive boards and interfaces) can make it easier for trainers and trainees to do hybrid training classes, the learning experience is still highly dependent on smart training design and seamless delivery and inclusive facilitation (making sure that those who are joining remotely are not forgotten and disadvantaged compared to those joining on-site).
8. L&D practitioners will implement more blended learning, whether asynchronous activities with virtual class or asynchronous activities with face-to-face. Since the 2020 lockdown, L&D professionals have successfully cut down on synchronous training time to prevent learners from experiencing “virtual fatigue” (imagine being seated in front of your Zoom screen for 8 hrs a day, multiply by the number of training days). Now that F2F is back, L&D practitioners will not go back to the old ways of lecture-heavy training. They will strive to increase asynchronous training methods to lessen training time, reduce training-related pull-outs of employees, increase disruptions to employee productivity caused by training, reduce training expenses and save trainer time so trainers can devote time for other training functions. Also, trainees have turned more to eLearning, YouTube videos, and micro-learning in the last 3 years so they will look forward to those integrated in their classes.
Again, the above forecasts are based on my perspective as an external learning partner based on the volume of clients and workshops with varied delivery modes that I have done in the last 3 years.
As 2023 unfolds, I will be observing the behavior of the corporate training market. Watch out for another article by Q2 for any for any changes or other trends.
(Banta, 2023). 8 Forecasts in 2023: Corporate Training in the Philippines. Retrieved from: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/8-forecasts-2023-corporate-training-philippines-louie-banta/