COVID-19 is a stone-cold killer. To date, more than 350,000 people worldwide have died from the virus. According to most experts, a vaccine for the virus is many months away. COVID-19 also is killing the global economy by depriving countries of trillions of dollars of GDP. For various reasons, COVID-19 also may kill organizational training.
In financially stressful environments, training budgets often are hit hard. Because training often is viewed as the stepchild of most organizations, it frequently is either eliminated or significantly cut to reallocate and bolster other areas within an organization. Unfortunately, many organizational decision-makers view training as a “nice” to have rather than a “need” to have.
Global lockdown measures such as social distancing and confinement will impact training and force organizational trainers to transform the current model of traditional face-to-face delivery. We are already seeing changes. For example, many training professionals have seized the opportunity to rely almost exclusively on technological platforms such as Zoom for delivery of services. Zoom has become the e-training platform of choice by trainers: It is reliable, has great clarity, and is user friendly. Some trainers have capitalized on the effectiveness of Webinars (video workshops) as a substitute e-training delivery method. But while online training and Webinars deliver training, they cannot replace face-to-face instruction, nor do they offer the added value of personal networking enjoyed by participants at single- and multiple-day training seminars and workshops.
So what does the near-term post-COVID-19 future hold for training? We have passed the point of no return in face-to-face off-campus training locations. In fact, we may even speculate that face-to-face training will no longer exist as we know it. Moving forward, we will see more in-house training delivery by organizational insiders and an occasional external training consultant. We certainly will see the disappearance of smaller and less well-funded training consultancies that will join the ranks of the many businesses forced out of the marketplace by COVID-19. The fortunate few individual training consultants and single-digit training consultancies that survive will be forced to merge or be absorbed by larger training consultancies. Only financially strong training consultancies will remain.
Executives have to face facts: COVID-19 has forever transformed our existing training models. For sure, training, as we know it, will have a different look and feel in the future. For now, training has taken a devastating blow from COVID-19. It may be down for the count, but it is not knocked out yet. Recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic eventually will take place, but traditional training delivery methods will not: Trainers and training organizations must adapt and create a new business model. If they sit on the sidelines and adopt a “wait and see” attitude, they will become a COVID-19 statistic in this new and somewhat forbidding brave new world of training.
Dr. Joseph C. Santora is an educator, trainer, researcher, and writer. He is the founder and editor of the International Leadership Journal (internationalleadershipjournal.com) and he can be reached by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org