With the recent announcement of the finalists of the 2019 Learning Awards, we continue this new series of L&D QuestionTime in which we hear from this years finalists.

Today we hear from Mark Rainbow shortlisted in the Learning Leader of the Year category.

In your opinion what is the biggest anxiety within the world of Learning & Development at the moment?

The ability to stay relevant in a fast-changing world is my biggest anxiety.

It’s crucial for L&D to be front and centre to their stakeholders need, whether that’s an organisations strategic goals or an individual’s learning requirements.
If you’re not appealing to your stakeholders, with a clear purpose which aligns with their needs, they will try and do their own thing.

As an L&D team, we must continue to adapt and change our approach, whether that’s an increase in digital content, on-line or self-teach videos. It’s also about not allowing yourself to become complacent.

Who or what is informing your thinking around L&D?

Key internal stakeholders across my organisation but most importantly the learners themselves. Feedback from trainees helps play a huge part in influencing how and where we deliver training, allowing us to tailor where necessary.

In an organisation like Openreach, where 25,000 of our 32,000 workforce are engineers, It’s essential that we provide hands on, practical, instructor led training which is engaging, interactive and where they want to learn, rather than being taught in a classroom.

Secondly, I look to the likes of LPI, CIPD, L&D online groups and conferences.. I also get a lot out of benchmarking sessions with other organisations, small or large in order to share best practice and ideas.

What is the most exciting innovation on the horizon for learning?

Exciting learning happens when you get two things right – HOW the learning is delivered and WHERE.

The HOW needs to be highly facilitative, so that learners are engaged and are asking for more because they’re interested (and its even fun at times…) whether it’s instructor led training or online.

The WHERE doesn’t have to be a physical building, so long as it’s real to life. It’s key that learners are able to transfer the knowledge and their new skills to their workplace quickly by having the ability to practice in real to life, safe training environments which reflect real life in relation to their workplace.

Immersive training environments also often see the learner educate others back in the workplace.

What game changers would you like to see and why?

I’d love to see further advancements in VR and Augmented Reality so that the real world can be almost completely replicated by use of technology. It is already out there but the cost to mass produce, along with the environment to do it in is currently holding back a lot of large scale organisations.

The other game changer has to be the mind-set of the learners and how they want to learn. We still see people turning up for training because they have to be there vs. wanting to be there. Outside work, we jump in and out of learning without realising it and it would be great to have this same mind-set within work.
What do you think the world of L&D will look like by 2030?

I love a bit of sci-fi and I would love to see augmented reality, holographic suites and Artificial Intelligence being an everyday part of L&D. Whilst I believe there will be more of this out in the market, I don’t believe we will have reached that tipping point as mind-sets, trust in the technology and the dreaded ROI question take time to prove.

There is no doubt that L&D will have advanced forwards with even more blended learning being used by more organisations but I can’t yet see a future where we won’t need instructor led training in the classroom…..the difference though, with advancement in technologies is that the learners could all be in different locations across the country or even the world.

What advice would you give your 21 year old self?

Follow your gut and be yourself. You enjoy taking on new challenges and developing yourself and helping others, so continue doing that and you won’t go far wrong!

About Mark:

Mark is Head of Training Delivery & Facilities for Openreach.

A former Royal Marine Commando, Mark is passionate about Learning & Development of others. Mark has been within HR & L&D since 2011 and his current role since 2014. Mark and his L&D team are front and centre to Openreach’s Big Bold Plan to ensure Openreach has the skilled teams to deliver its plans to build the UK’s fibre network at scale and pace whilst being a dependable partner for companies that want to work with openreach.

Mark has led on the creation and building of 11 regional training centres, with the UK’s first ‘network training street called Open Street’, which has meant that his team can now deliver excess of 140,000 learner days per year (vs. 74,000 in 2014) and has included the on boarding of 3,500 new recruits this year and another 3,000+ next.

Married with twin daughters aged 11, Mark enjoys keeping fit, holidays and socialising with friends and family.

Connect with Mark on LinkedIn