Managed Learning Services Grow In Scope, Flexibility & Strategic Insight

More firms outsource learning for better delivery, flexibility & achieving more with less; providers being asked for strategic input as L&D also supports talent management.

UK and global companies are starting to use managed learning services providers in a more strategic advisory role alongside outsourced L&D programme provision as they build the resilience to meet changing learning, upskilling and talent management needs.

The new study, called Industry report: the evolution of managed learning, examines how international and UK based businesses and providers approached managed learning in 2023 as well as these services’ continuing evolution. The qualitative research programme also uncovered clear differences with pre-pandemic thinking revealed by the company’s 2018 study of this area.

Hemsley’s latest survey found that nearly all the participating organisations are outsourcing their L&D services more than they did six years ago as well as widening the scope of what they require from providers. This trend reflects the fact that employers, having had to reorganise business models, accommodate hybrid work and change the way they attract, develop and retain talent, increasingly require their L&D teams to contribute more to both corporate learning and talent strategies. 

The study also found that most organisations plan to expand their use of outsourcing over the next 12-18 months as they require “more with less”, expect engaging and consistent learning experiences and want greater flexibility and scalability of L&D programe delivery.

However, researchers still found a broad balance between in-house and outsourcing learning provision, as some organisations keep a core of in-house learning practitioner skills, maintain centralised learning models, and retain direct oversight of some learning activities.

The study also found that outsourcing is becoming more common irrespective of location. Global firms are now using managed learning providers for at least some learning functions - a contrast with 2018, when only the companies operating in the UK and USA had taken this step. 

Lynsey Whitmarsh, CEO at Hemsley Fraser, said: “Our survey shows that employers, buffeted by years of disruption to their business models and existential challenges to the way they attract and retain the best people, want greater flexibility in learning provision, its design and delivery and its wider capabilities.

“Our research found that many multi-location businesses want global-level provider partnerships to achieve economies of scale while others prioritise consistency of learning experiences with local vendors. Many firms favour providers that can flex to their localised learning needs but many still prefer centralised providers for assured programme delivery logistics, such as vendor management and content library access.”

“We also found that managed learning providers are gaining more strategic influence. With senior executives expecting their L&D teams to contribute more to both corporate learning and rethink talent strategies. As a result, managed learning companies are increasingly contributing to learning strategy, programme design and delivery and content access as well as L&D technology implementations and programme evaluation.”

Read the full report now

The evolution of managed learning