The need to transform corporate learning has been intensified by the COVID-19 global pandemic.

As businesses try to cope with workforce changes and the ‘great reshuffle’ places considerable demands on skilling, most agree that now their strategy, approach and delivery of learning needs reworking.

The dilemma lies in how to effectively execute this while balancing complex organisational and geographic contexts and a variety of legacy issues. At KPMG Australia (KPMG) we have drawn on our local and global expertise to provide some food for thought to learning leaders as they begin navigating this challenge in the post-pandemic era.

Professional learning, the key to solving the skilling crisis

Despite the doom and gloom of COVID-19, post-pandemic workforce changes have provided Learning and Development (L&D) teams with a seat at the table – 70 percent of L&D professionals said that their CEO was now an active champion of learning (+159 percent pre-pandemic).1 The C-suite are recognising that upskilling and reskilling their workforce is a critical business imperative for both a) future business operations and b) employee retention as the war for talent intensifies.

In a recent KPMG survey, 72 percent of HR executives rated building talent through upskilling and reskilling as the most important factor to consider while shaping their organisation’s future workforce composition over the next 12-24 months,2 yet many acknowledge it is difficult to implement.

Budget cuts and legacy systems hinder learning transformation

We work with clients across the world who are struggling to transform their learning functions. L&D are often viewed as a cost centre function , which combined with frequent budgets cut in times of austerity, has caused a setback in many organisations’ learning delivery capabilities. Out of all L&D professionals surveyed, 42 percent identified that learning projects are now more of a priority but contrastingly, 71 percent report that budgets for training have decreased.3

Legacy technology systems stifle good learner experiences and prevent automation to assist scaling learning operations in a sustainable way. A sheer lack of available data prevents L&D teams from having cost transparency, measuring the impact of learning, and creating continuous improvement processes – in Australia alarmingly just 6 percent of L&D leaders believe they can effectively calculate ROI on their learning programs.4

These financial and operational constraints are significantly hindering the progress towards a vision of learning in the flow of work, more impactful learning, more insightful reporting and more digitally enabled learning. Learning leaders are facing increasing pressure to deliver more, with less.

Transforming your workplace learning: Three key focus areas

Learning transformation is not about spending more money, but spending the same (or less) money, in a smarter way. A piece-by-piece approach (or ‘tinkering around the edges’) is proving unsuccessful. A more wholesome approach to learning is needed. A true learning transformation often takes years, and senior stakeholder buy-in is pivotal. At KPMG we believe there are three key focus areas to learning transformation:

  • Aligning learning strategy to meet overall business strategy and capability needs .
  • Creating an eco-system of contextualised content and fit-for-purpose technology to enhance the learner experience and ground learning in the flow of work.
  • Delivering learning in a streamlined, automated and efficient way, using data insights to shift the dial on productivity.

It is our position that these three elements must each be addressed in order to see a meaningful change. Working with our international clients has demonstrated that this approach increases the efficiency, effectiveness and value for both individuals and organisations. And if this is not possible with your existing internal resources, you can partner in the market for external perspectives and strategic support.

Through our upcoming learning perspectives series we will be exploring some of these elements in greater detail, with the aim of providing learning leaders with practical insights and examples to elevate the strategic approach to learning, and create an achievable vision.


1. LinkedIn Learning, 2020, Leading with Learning Report: Insights and Advice on the State of L&D
2. KPMG, 2020, The future of HR in the new reality (PDF, 1.28MB)
3. Go1, 2020, State of Learning Report: Learning at work in 2020
4. MindTools for Business, 2021, Innovate, Dominate or Decline: 2021 Annual L&D Benchmark Report

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