Restaurant and other hospitality companies are shifting training functions from the operations divisions and increasingly incorporating e-learning into their development programs, new research indicates.

Those were among early results of a new “Trends in Hospitality Training Study,” conducted by the Council of Hotel & Restaurant Trainers, or CHART, and TDn2K, parent to analytics companies People Report and Black Box Intelligence. The findings were released July 29 during the CHART conference in Atlanta.

The move to having training departments report to the president or chief executive, rather than the human resources or operations departments that predominated in the past, poses some challenges, said John Isbell, director of training for Logan’s Roadhouse Inc., the Nashville, Tenn.-based casual-dining chain.

“When reporting to a president or CEO, they are so big picture that they don’t want to hear the details,” said Isbell, after a CHART member discussion. “Also, in some cases, you lose some of that connection with your operations group and your HR group, so you’re sort of in a No Man’s Land. You have to be much better at building relationships at that point.”

About 25 percent of training departments now report directly to the chief executive or president, said Victor Fernandez, TDn2K’s executive director of insights and knowledge, who presented the findings with Isabell.

Fernandez said e-learning training is on the increase in restaurant and hotel training departments. About 80 percent of limited-service restaurants are offering it and 48 percent of full-service restaurants, he said. In hotel and lodging establishments, 73 percent of operators are using e-learning training.

Isabell said e-learning is crucial for younger hires and becoming more important for older employees as well.

“Especially in full-service restaurants, we have got some older employees, and a lot of times our operators are very nervous about them doing e-learning,” said Isabell. “Five years ago, you probably could have made that case. … The one thing out there that has changed older people using the Internet is Facebook. Facebook is the greatest thing that has ever happened to trainers who want to push e-learning. My grandma has a Facebook account so she can see her grandkids.”

And for smartphone-savvy entry-level employees, e-learning is imperative, Isabell added. “We are hiring a lot of young people, and they don’t want to sit and read manuals.”

About 25 percent of new hires are 21 years or younger, Fernandez said. “There are a lot of skills missing because of the lack of experience,” Fernandez said.