Yes, the Head of L&D should be a part of the management team

Global EdTech investments reached new records in the first half of 2018. We spoke with Jannie Jeppesen, the CEO at the Swedish Edtech Industry, about the growing interest in EdTech, how it affects businesses and organisations and how they can utilize on EdTech to future proof their business.

Explore five key aspects of designing for digital learning in this white paper!

Agnes Haverling

What are the reasons behind the fast growing interest in EdTech? 

Investments don't happen if there isn’t a need for it. There are several reasons behind this: demography, globalisation, technological development and competence re-adjustments. The global population grows by 200,000 people each day and with an increased level of education worldwide contributes to more than 40 percent of the financial market growth. Globalisation put pressure on us to stay competitive and the need for up skilling and developing work force skills are also drivers of growth. As other countries are able to offer the same products or services as we do for a lower cost, we need to distinguish ourselves differently to stay competitive. With technology comes new competence requirements. Robots and automation may take over certain tasks, but these changes also create requirements for new skills, such as learning how to leverage this technology or how to program the robots and automation processes. These changes trigger a change in workforce skills. Previously, adding new skills to existing competences was enough to stay relevant, but now it may require a total change of skills sets. 

“People who don't spend 5 hours a week online learning will make themselves obsolete.”

How do you create a winning Learning & Development strategy in businesses? 

The executive board must understand that it is business critical to work with learning. More and more companies realise the importance of focusing on Learning and hiring a Head of Learning & Development to ensure that the organisation constantly learns and develops. Learning & Development must have a place in the board! If you're in Learning & Development and not part of the management team it’s time to look for a new employer! This is a management question which must be prioritized and understood by the owners, board and management. Connect learning and what you want to achieve with the change in learning with hard figures. How does developing soft skills contribute to business critical numbers? How do you get ROI?

Digitalization provide a possibility to move past time and space, follow up and keep track of progress on an individual as well as company level. Where you are today and tomorrow, but it’s not the whole solution. Learning is not a quick fix, it’s a process and tools need to be part of that process. The overall purpose and structure for learning must be defined by management in the business plan!  

Another key to leverage online learning is to allow time for it. The CEO at AT&T said “ People who don't spend 5 hours a week online learning will make themselves obsolete.” That shows an understanding of the importance of continuous learning.  Google employees use the 70/20/10 model, which means spending 70 percent of their time on their core competency, 20 percent on related projects, and 10 percent learning new skills and working on side projects. This plays an important role when developing new business areas.

Involving co-workers, leveraging their competence and interests, and identifying their drivers lead to enhanced engagement and might also open up for new specialities or combinations of competences you hadn’t thought of. An engineer interested in learning more about marketing, for example, might be a winning combination!

What do companies gain from engaging in L&D?

Future proofing their existence. Customized education on individual and company level that has a strong connection to the business plan, in combination with an organizational structure, learning culture and software drives business development.

What impact do these changes have for companies and organisations? 

On a company level it is business critical. We are moving towards being service providers, and if you haven't got the the right competence you don't have anything to sell. We are our competence. We need to have companies, organisations and missions that constantly develop, innovate, develop and dismantle.  We need to cooperate with technology in order to understand and use it in optimal ways. To succeed, we need to create a learning organisation and encourage innovation, creativity and collaboration between competences in teams and with robots.

There is an increased demand in specialisation, and with that comes collaboration. Take doctors performing heart surgery as one example. Today, surgeries are to a big extent done with robots. While  the doctor is specialised in the heart, (s)he needs to collaborate closely with the engineer to perform the best surgery. We need to collaborate more across the specialist areas.

Competence development used to only be about adding new knowledge, what we see now is also a transformation. We could hear SEB speak in Almedalen about how bank services are different today. A banks top competences used to be economists and engineers, now they require user experience designers instead. Attracting new competences means new demands. Going back to the example with SEB, to attract engineers and economists a high salary was key, attracting the best user experience designers means something else. They are driven by different things like having a creative work environment, work in teams and have a meaning with their job.

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Explore five key aspects of designing for digital learning in this white paper!

Agnes Haverling, fil. kand. i Digital media & Pedagogik och skriver om produktivitet, organisatoriskt lärande och metodik.


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