Workplace learning and development is not only for large corporations – it can also drive better results for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs). Research on Work-Related Learning in SMEs conducted by the Conference Board of Canada in 2011 discussed the following five pressures felt by SMEs: globalization, a knowledge-based economy, skills shortages, mature workforce, and diversity.

Workplace learning and development can alleviate these pressures and help a business to:

  1. Compete Globally.To remain competitive on the global level, your organization can improve productivity and foster innovation through workplace training.
  2. Keep Up with a Knowledge-Based Economy.A knowledge-based economy means that there is a direct relationship between the quality and quantity of knowledge and skills in your organization and its success.
  3. Address Skills Shortages.Workplace learning addresses skills shortages that occur due to cyclical pressures and structural changes in the economy.
  4. Deal with a Maturing Workforce.The baby boomer workforce of the western world is heading into retirement. Investing in learning programs in your organization will help ensure that expertise and organizational memory are not lost, but are effectively transferred to younger employees.
  5. Get the Best out of Diversity.You can meet your need for skilled and knowledgeable workers at least partially by hiring skilled and educated immigrants. As your enterprise becomes more diverse, workplace learning can help increase cultural awareness and promote diversity as a strategy.

Investing in employees will yield positive long-term results. By empowering your people with knowledge and skills, and fostering a positive work environment, you will create a workplace that will have the power to grow and sustain itself within an ever-changing environment.

For a longer discussion on workplace learning, read this 2012 Forbes Magazine interview with Deloitte LLP that looks at the importance of investing in people in order to keep up with the changing demands of the global economy.

Guest contributors for this post: Jenny Papadakis and Lisel Douglas.

Works Cited

Quast, Lisa. (2012, May 14). Want your company to succeed in the future? Invest in employee skills training like Deloitte LLP. Forbes. Retrieved from

Hughes, P. D., Stuckey, J., The Conference Board of Canada. (2011). Investing in Skills: Effective Work-Related Learning in SMEs. Retrieved from Research on Work-Related Learning in SMEs.