16 Aug 2020 17:57 IST

More willingness to learn during Covid, says ACCA study

The need to remain relevant at the workplace and adapt to changing roles makes learning crucial

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced organisations to think and reinvent their business models. Actions which are both decisive and agile are now the order of the day. This new paradigm has also changed the trajectory of learning and development. We are seeing strong realisations within the organisations that learning strategy is closely aligned to its overall strategic goals. The same is being reflected in their increased focus towards education during the pandemic and their inclination to support by allocating funds.

According to the study, ‘Learning and Development: Outlook in the Covid-19 year,’ by Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), learning and development is rapidly evolving. The study conducted in India had 102 respondents, who were HR professionals, representing a diverse mix of organisations across industry types and employee strength during April. 73 per cent of the respondents had at least 500 employees or more, while 23 per cent represented small organisations with employee strength of less than 250 employees.

The study captured the changing facets of learning and development for finance professionals as well as the overall organisation. There are several significant trends that point towards the changing world order. These trends have a direct impact on how organisations would function in the future and the skills needed, as an individual, to thrive. The survey highlights that increasingly individuals are keen to learn something new in the coming year to enhance their skills and capabilities and to add the necessary competency to be successful in the post-Covid era.

Willingness to learn

According to the ACCA’s report, the need to continuously upgrade one’s skills to remain relevant at the workplace has undergone a dramatic push during this pandemic, encouraging individuals to adopt an agile approach to refresh their skills and learn something new. The survey highlighted this need with 95 per cent respondents saying they are more likely to learn something new in the coming year.



Commenting on the survey findings, Sajid Khan, Head of International Development, ACCA said, “The pandemic has put the spotlight on the role of learning and development, both from an individual and an organisational perspective. For an individual to play a critical role in driving this change, it is essential that they learn, evolve and adapt to emerging skills. As pointed out in the report, this willingness to learn is commendable, and more people are keen to enhance their skills and build new competencies in the coming year.”

Growth of hybrid learning model

Traditionally, in India, learning has always been face-to-face in classrooms, but according to the study only 20 per cent of the participants preferred face-to-face as a learning method while 50 per cent of respondents preferring online learning. The survey also revealed that 60 per cent of respondents preferred the hybrid learning model, a blend of online and face-to-face.



Getting the optimum blend between face-to-face and online learning will remain the key and could be difficult, leading organisations to think differently. The evolution of the hybrid learning model is pertinent to building a sustainable learning and development model in the future.

Demand for short-term courses and applied skills

The current crisis has changed the way organisations used to function, making them realise the need to be agile and decisive in their action. This adoption to new normal needs to be fast and the skills required to transcend this crisis need to be acquired at a lightning pace. The survey clearly brings out the demand for short term courses.



69 per cent respondents demanded short term courses of less than three months, while 33 per cent were interested in a course with a duration between three to six months. This trend indicated the urgent need to develop new or add additional skills to the current portfolio.

The current crisis has also shifted focus towards applied skills with 51 per cent of respondents preferring professional courses and 21 per cent technical courses. Though only 16 per cent of respondents were looking to undertake soft skill training, there may be an increase going ahead.