Managers getting to grips with new media says report

A new study reveals a surge in the use of new media as directors and senior managers adopt the technology taken for granted by Generation-Y.

The findings, published by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and Centre for Applied Human Resource Research, show that a significant proportion of employers (43 per cent) now have a budget dedicated to management and leadership development (MLD). 

The study suggests that, given continued debate over the UK skills crisis, employers believe high-quality development programmes are a critical success factor, with nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) agreeing that their organisation sees MLD as a high priority. Based on the views of 1,087 respondents and including 15 in-depth interviews with employers from across the private and public sectors, the research demonstrates how new media learning is growing in popularity. For example, 51 per cent of directors now say they use online videos to develop new skills, up from 21 per cent a year ago. 

One-third (34 per cent) also use social networking sites to boost their knowledge, compared to just 12 per cent last year. Among senior managers, 24 per cent make use of eBooks and 27 per cent seek advice through discussion forums.
However, it is clear that use of online resources does not happen in isolation. Of those who have made use of online resources over the past two years, the majority (72 per cent) of respondents described a mixture of face-to-face and online activity. 

Many traditional methods for developing skills such as on-the-job training (62 per cent) or formal qualification (47 per cent) remain popular, yet individuals and employers argue that a ‘blended approach’ works best. Asked why, a significant proportion of the employers interviewed focused on cost-effectiveness, suggesting that the blended approach enables them to ‘deliver more for less’ and provides greater 'Return on Investment'. An equally significant proportion also believe that it provides a ‘better way of delivering’ learning and development opportunities.



Individual respondents to the study, which is being launched at the Institute’s 2008 National Convention in Birmingham, reinforced their employers’ perspective, with 60 per cent focusing on the ability to ‘work at their own pace’. More than half also suggested that blended learning ensures ‘different methods can be used to suit different learning styles’.
Jo Causon, director, marketing and corporate affairs at the Chartered Management Institute, said: “The fact that individuals are becoming familiar with, and are using, technologies such as mobile video, TV on-demand, multi-player gaming or information services such as Google and Wikipedia suggests that the techno-phobia long-associated with resistance to online learning is being eroded. There are still technical and cultural issues to overcome, but the biggest challenge is whether organisations will seriously examine the powerful tools at their disposal or let their competitors build an advantage through a better trained workforce as comfortable in front of a PC as they are in front of a tutor.”

The report, called ‘Learning at Work: an e-learning evolution or revolution?’ can be downloaded (even by managers) from www.managers.org.uk/evolution

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