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7 Business Learning Trends in 2021

What is good in the west of Russia is not always for the future in the Far East. This also applies to business training. The EastRussia expert helps Far Eastern top managers, heads of medium and small businesses to navigate the trends and methods in the training and coaching market, and also talks about the skills in demand.

I am a happy business coach. Since 2010, I have been working in the business training market in Khabarovsk, sometimes I go on business trips to other cities of the Far East: Vladivostok, Blagoveshchensk, Yakutsk ... And since the spring of 2020, I also work in the team of the consulting company Katarsis Business Group - the company's location is Moscow, and the team of trainers is distributed, from the Far East to Italy. Due to this, I can see the trends that exist in domestic business education, and what is the specificity of these trends in the Far East. Let's see.

7 Business Learning Trends in 2021

Olga Zbarskaya

business coach, social psychologist

Trend 1. Growth in demand for training and idea development lifelong learning

According to surveyconducted in the fall of 2020 by the portal, 42% of market participants - business trainers and training organizers - predict an increase in demand for business training. I am inclined to trust this forecast, but I think that with an increase in demand, one can assume a change in its structure. I think that more tasks will be solved internally in companies - now some large companies are inclined to invest resources in conditional “trainings of trainers for non-trainers” - so that any valuable company specialist could pack his expertise into a training product. At the same time, customers are more careful in choosing an external training provider - it is important for them when the training provider himself owns the most relevant competencies - for example, negotiating online - and is ready to demonstrate them.

The world is no longer just changing rapidly - it is changing rapidly, unpredictably, chaotically and in leaps and bounds. Some professions disappear, there is a need for new ones. The World Economic Forum in its report in October 2020 notes: more than half of companies mention the problem of lack of competencies in the labor market as one of the key ones. There are people, but the required competencies are not.

In this regard, it becomes clear: we will have to learn, unlearn and relearn throughout our lives in order for our competencies to be built into a rapidly developing and changing market.

And what about the Far East?

Purely according to my feelings as a business coach who works in this market, the demand is definitely growing compared to the last year. Companies “brushed themselves off” and resumed employee training. The coaching chat in WA has revived, in-house coaches post photos and videos from trainings and fly on business trips, projects frozen exactly a year ago have finally been worked out, and training participants are happy to meet “on the ground” and not in the Zoom window. The Khabarovsk subdivision of the TsOU "My Business", which aims to educate and advise small and medium-sized businesses, ranked 7th out of 84 in the rating of subdivisions in Russia.

Will the business demand for employee training continue to grow? How will the structure of this demand change? Will the business be ready to continue to fully finance the development of its employees? We'll see.


Trend 2. Online forever. Offline is for emotions.

Much of the training went online last year and will never return. The business realized that the cost of the Zoom site is more profitable than paying for flights and corporate travel coaches, renting halls and catering. No, training “on the ground” will not disappear at all, but it will become a kind of privilege, only for those cases when you need to shake up the employees, give a new impetus to their motivation.

And what about the Far East?

The Far East does not like online. He thinks online is ineffective. It can be understood: there are plenty of corners in the region where the Internet is extremely unstable, and online learning technologies are not developing so rapidly. Also, the staff shortage in the region makes itself felt: not so much companies choose a candidate, as job seekers choose a place of work; a consequence of this is a lower motivation of employees, including for corporate training, therefore employers doubt the effectiveness of training in an online environment. And if large federal structures, ordering training, calculate the time in such a way that employees from both Krasnodar and Vladivostok are connected, then regional small and medium-sized businesses are more likely to call a live trainer, even if they have to bring him from a neighboring region.


Trend 3. Without water. The content of the training will significantly improve, it will be more closer to the needs of the business and employees.

The portal in the statistics of a survey of experts in the business education market cites the opinion of one of the participants: “On the one hand, everyone has mastered Zoom, on the other, everything is so primitive, because there was no evolutionary development, a leap of form without filling it with adequate content. As a result, everyone believes that after the pandemic, online will remain for the poor, and the rich will always learn offline, because the main thing in learning is the jointly created emotional and intellectual field ... ”.

From my experience of teaching online, I can judge that the trend is just the opposite. In the online environment, any flaws in the content are better visible, the presence of "water" is more striking precisely because the emotional background is far from being as strong as in offline, and you cannot cover it up. Every word spoken, every letter in the presentation should be as accurate as possible and related to the actual working practice of the participants. Practical activities should move them towards solving specific work tasks.

But businesses will have to create emotional engagement through other activities. By the way, the industry of corporate educational online games has also stepped forward during the pandemic.

And what about the Far East?

Local small and medium-sized businesses are traditionally exacting in terms of the content of training programs. Allocating a budget for training from their profits, inherited by sweat and blood, the customer wants a guaranteed result - sometimes even exaggerating the role of training in the company's business results.

But the employees who are sent by managers to training often do not even bother to look at the program in order to build their wishes into the training and squeeze the maximum out for themselves. And traditionally here they value not purely “trainers”, but experts-practitioners who have achieved concrete results in the topic they are teaching. People are more interested in someone else's story of success (or failure) than repeated exercises to improve their practical skills.


Trend 4. Higher education is no longer needed? Development of specific, point competencies and focus on results in actions.

Business ceases to be interested in having a higher education among employees. But the possession of a specific competence, for example, creating an engaging story content for a corporate public on Instagram or selecting candidates for a vacancy in remote regions, comes to the fore. This means that corporate training will value a specific result in the form of competencies and a willingness to immediately use what has been learned in the work.

It takes 1-6 months to acquire many of the point competencies that a business needs - this is the conclusion he made in his report. WEF... For example, programming skills are formed in 4-5 months, sales and even marketing skills - in 1-2 months.

Josh Kaufman's concept of pro "The first 20 hours" is becoming more and more developed: in just 20 hours it is possible to master a large number of skills: from flying an airplane to the skill of being a parent.

And what about the Far East?

An acquaintance of mine from Khabarovsk, who does not have a higher education, but has experience in retail sales and has an attractive appearance, has been looking for work unsuccessfully for several months. People, especially young people, who own one and only demanded competence, often get a job remotely: the customer can sit somewhere in California or Kiev, in Moscow or Voronezh, and it does not matter that you are in the time zone +7, if only the work is good and was done on time.


Trend 5. Short program. Long-term multi-module courses are losing their relevance.

Market experts are voting that a live webinar for 1-2 hours will become the most popular training format, Vsetreningi reports.

I think this correlates little with the focus of the business on specific results in the competencies of employees. Rather, a short - 3-5 modules - online training with accompanying participants to the result will gain popularity. I have implemented such formats and I know for sure that they justify themselves: if the customer is willing to invest in support from the trainer, the employees at the exit show excellent results. They do not have time to burn out - and at the same time the business receives an actual product that does not have time to become outdated. Today we have to reckon with this, because the ZUN, planned in the one-year course, can easily lose relevance for business in the second half of this course.

“Mastodons” of large-scale professional retraining and advanced training programs are in no hurry to give up their positions. For the same Moscow Business School, the main page of the site lists exactly the "long" programs - professional retraining, MBA, lasting from 1,5 years, and mini-MBA - from 1 year. By the way, this spring the School stimulates the influx of students for MBA and mini-MBA with serious discounts.

And what about the Far East?

Businesses continue to order 2-day classroom and field trainings. Although, admittedly, not in such quantity as it was 7-8 years ago. And if the same short training programs 7-8 years ago - for 1-2 hours - were rather an exception, now it is the norm. The employees received applied knowledge in a condensed form and went to practice it in practice.

There is no serious demand for MBA candidates in the Far East. Eichars rather look at the experience and achievements of the applicant. Here are the views expressed by HR professionals in the region:

“Hard and soft skills, competencies, cases, projects, management methods are important, but not MBA”.

“All other things being equal, a candidate with an MBA will, of course, arouse more interest from the manager, but the decision is usually not made on the basis of this.”

At the same time, professionals in the Far East are ready to consider for themselves the option of obtaining a new profession in a growing market and spend even 2,5-3 years on this. The growing demand for the services of psychologists and psychotherapists is reflected in the demand in the region for programs that train these specialists. The program for the training of mediators (specialists in conflict resolution) is in increasing demand: as a rule, professionals from related fields - psychologists and lawyers - go to it.


Trend 6. Life in a smartphone. Flexibility and mobility.

"Fi, marathon" - say the jaded Instagram users, looking at the announcement from another blogger.

"Hurray, marathon!" - corporate business coaches clap their hands. Because business today needs convenient and engaging formats: to make it easy for employees to learn, interesting and effective. It is the marathon and SMS training, with their mobility, the ability to learn from a smartphone, a large number of dosed, step-by-step practice, that provide such an opportunity.

People have smartphones with them 24/7. For employees and managers in business, this is a full-fledged working tool: it installs the services necessary for work - and now you can learn everywhere: on the road and from home, in the "fields" and in the office, on a business trip and on vacation.

Business training is adapting to these trends and aims to be more comfortable and easier for very busy employees. That is why today it is more correct to consider any program from the point of view of its usability and the possibility of learning for a person without a serious restructuring of his life and work schedule.

And what about the Far East?

Far Easterners are in the same trend - with the exception that life here is somewhat slower than in the capitals. We consume useful content on social networks, connect to Zoom from a smartphone and participate in developmental marathons. Our coaching community is not afraid of the expressions “SMS training” and “blended learning” - professionals themselves are looking for and offering business convenient formats - another question is that not all customers are inclined to take seriously the same marathon as a format of training, not entertainment. ...


Trend 7. Still soft skills

According to a survey by the portal, the most popular topics in business training will be sales and negotiations, managerial skills, personal effectiveness, and personnel management. Nothing new.

However, from my coaching experience, I can judge that old topics will gain popularity in a new way: during the pandemic, there was a demand for online communication: negotiation, meetings and training in the online environment. And also - the ability to survive in a constantly changing world (but business still calls it "personal efficiency").

And what about the Far East?

Good old fashioned sales and objection handling.

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