Last week, I had the opportunity to speak to the Human Resources Professionals of Central PA about “Trends in Learning and Development.” As part of the program, we did instant polling of the group of 50 participants. While some were part of larger organizations, most were employed in smaller financial services, construction or health care-related firms. Of this group, 80% agreed that investments in learning can provide a high return and increase their organization’s competitiveness.
While most agreed with the general learning and development ROI statement, 21% of the organizations are coping with reduced budgets. Nationwide, according to Bersin and Associates, corporate investments in training are down 21% since 2008. In an increasingly competitive, knowledge economy, these cuts will hold organizations back from improving and growing.
There was a positive sign in our group, however, as 23% reported that their budgets are increasing. This may be an early indicator that 2010 may at least end the decline in organizational spending on learning and development.
The HR leaders in the group showed interest in e-Learning and new approaches to developing and delivering training. But while the interest was high, a third of the group responded that they haven’t changed their learning content or delivery in the last three years. This may indicate that the challenges of the economy have prevented many executives and HR leaders from reviewing how they develop and deliver training.
More than half the group responded that they do not have a written plan for changing their approach to organizational learning. Fifteen of the organizations do have a written plan. While this is a limited sample, I think we will start to see more small to mid-sized organizations take a fresh look at how they plan, budget and deliver learning as the economy improves. With open source and cloud-based technologies, there are opportunities for these organizations to strategically invest in new ways of developing their people to gain a competitive advantage.