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The Digital Learning World: After The Lockdown

"The new normal" – a term almost as loathsome as the dreaded virus itself, but one that adequately describes the upheaval we’ve all faced in our personal and working lives, changes which look set to persist. That said, the Digital Learning sector looks set to be a beneficiary of recent affairs, in the long term. Given that Instinct has a readymade network of Learning professionals, we’ve been asking your views about the recent changes to the industry and how they may manifest themselves in the future.

Most of you are busier than ever


We do understand that in industries disproportionately affected by COVID19, there have been redundancies and we’ve been working with many people in this situation.  That said, the majority of L&D departments are experiencing higher than usual demand, as businesses look to immediately adapt.

In a recent Instinct survey, 77% of respondents said that they were experiencing much higher than normal workloads.

A graph showing how busy Digital Learning Designers have been during COVID19

Qasim Ahmed, Head of Digital Learning at William Hill, agrees with the above. His team are working remotely and have never been busier. He has this to say:

Qasim Ahmed, Head of Digital Learning at William Hill

Our contractor network fed-back a more complicated picture. Whilst the vast majority at 49% are also busier than ever, 32% of contractors in the market are experiencing minimal work. 

A graph showing how busy the contract market of Digital Learning has been over the last 6 months.

Our own experience of this, at Instinct, has been relatively similar.  Our contractor business levels have remained overall consistent, though we have noticed losses in certain sectors. Thankfully, this has been counteracted by a small but positive increase within the Higher Education market.


Job Market Confidence


Regarding job market confidence, the Digital Learning sector truly is something special. Given the general state of current and economic affairs, most would think the high levels of optimism, found within the Digital Learning world, to be somewhat misguided. They would be wrong. It completely aligns with what we have been noticing for a number of weeks now. We referenced this in our previous blog.

A whopping 58% of those polled are currently “very confident” in securing a new position, with a further 32% just a little more tentative. The remaining 10% with little confidence or no choice but to find a new position, are exactly those who we wish to both reassure and help through these difficult times. 

A graph showing how confident the Digital Learning sector are in moving jobs during COVID19

Our contractor base is similarly intrepid, with only 6% anticipating that their skills will be in less demand in the future. The overwhelming 79%, that believe there will be an increased demand, share our thoughts (and data) on the matter.

A graph showing how the Digital Learning sector see's the future for contract demand


Future Ways of Working


Many learning professionals are quite familiar with home or remote working and are often very attracted to the prospect of working from home, amongst both contract and permanent employment seekers.  

So, it’s no surprise that in March 2020 when WFH (work from home) became essential to those equipped and capable to do so, the digital learning world made the smooth transition with ease.

With WFH having its prolonged time in the spotlight, we wanted to see if our network had any plans to return to the office. The results are very interesting.

Only 17% of our responding network is already back in the workplace (September 2020) and, interestingly, 7% is not returning to the office at all. Presumably, these individuals have been made aware by their employers that their office space is a thing of the past.

A graph showing when the Digital Learning sector will be returning to the office place.

Rather unsurprisingly, the majority of those surveyed, want to retain an element of remote working in their future working lives. 46% wish to maintain a somewhat 50/50 split, with 2 – 3 days of remote working per week, whilst 41% would rather work remotely full-time.

A graph showing how often people would like to work from home

When the staff at CIPFA (The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy) were internally surveyed by their HR department, there was a similar response:

Chris Wales, Chief Information Officer at CIPFA

Rather on the flip-side, the Managing Director of a UK based Training and Qualifications company explained to us why he thought full-time remote working may present problems further down the line, and not just for business owners, but for employees themselves. He feels that businesses could struggle to create strong working cultures amongst employees, particularly with any future members of staff and even more so for those entering at a junior level.

Finally, he fears that if workforces remain 100% remote, there would be more incentive for UK based businesses to offshore vital roles, which, could cause numerous problems for the UK’s economy and level of employment.

Woman sat by the couch, working from home on her laptop

Of course, all of the remarkable changes we’ve seen in the sector in recent months are inextricably linked; the same force driving an increased level of remote working (initially due to lockdown but latterly driven by the popularity of, and ease of home working) is also fueling the need for more Digital Learning, thanks to a geographically dispersed population.

Although daunting, and to some, catastrophic; the speed of change has been fascinating. We will continue to watch from our front-row seat and share insights where we can.