Egypt’s corporate learning and development landscape
What are Egyptian businesses looking for in L&D services? A core pillar of any business is the learning and development (L&D) of its employees — from the junior to the executive level. Globally, most university-based executive education programs work with corporate clients — as opposed to Egypt, where individuals are investing a lot in their own L&D for better job prospects, associate dean of Executive Education at the American University in Cairo (AUC) Ghada Howaidy tells us. But even when companies actively seek L&D options for their employees, the local market falls short in providing them with what they need.
There are a few driving factors causing companies to seek L&D: Some 51% of training needs are decided by L&D heads within companies, Howaidy explains. Strategic vision and management-driven objectives account for 11%, according to a recent AUC School of Business report (pdf) that surveyed 30 companies in Egypt across 12 different sectors to map the L&D landscape from a corporate perspective. “When you are in a time of crisis or a merger and acquisition for example, the strategy needs to take priority and competencies need to be aligned. Training should then be there to meet those competencies,” Howaidy adds.
Companies often want tailored programs: For technical skills, standardized programs can do the trick, but customized programs based on the organization’s actual needs, culture and applications take it one step further. Some 87% of surveyed companies want the training provider to tailor programs based on the client’s needs, according to the report.
But those come at a high cost: Some 71% of surveyed companies say they are unable to realistically evaluate the training needs for their employees and preparing tailored L&D programs requires pre- and post-program assessments not widely available in the local landscape, the report states. For training providers to wear the hats of actual “solution providers”, they may need to reshape their business model into a more customer-centric one resulting in a higher price point.
The extent of that increase depends on the level of customization needed and the needed outcomes of the training program, cofounder and director of Newton Education Services Nelly El Zayat tells us. Newton Education Services brought the Chicago Booth Executive Program to Gouna. The application deadline for its March program ends on 4 December, according to the company’s LinkedIn page.
Practical and applicable solutions are crucial: Some 81% of respondents said there was a rising need for L&D processes that allow for practical implementation. Many corporates find training solutions lacking in relevant local case studies, and the ones offered lack a connection to the client’s situational needs, the report says. This is especially true for oil and gas, real estate, ICT, and agribusiness companies. Training providers also need to incorporate digital solutions. Some 48% of respondents were unhappy about the limited use of digital technologies from training providers during L&D processes.
So what should companies do to get the most out of their L&D strategy? “Companies need to reflect on their purpose for L&D: is it an employee benefit for the person’s own growth or is it aligned with the purpose of the organization and job requirements?” Howaidy explains. Additionally, if companies want a customized program tailored to their needs, they need to understand that it comes with a price tag, she adds. Lastly, both parties need to align from the beginning on what “success” looks like and what is needed for a satisfying return of investment.