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Good News: Spending on Training Increasing

— by Bill Cushard

In a recent Bersin by Deloitte study, spending on learning and development rose by 12% in 2012. In another study, 90% of CEOS said they plan to maintain or increase training budgets in 2013. Obviously, this is great news for learning and development (L&D) professionals. Not only do CEOs intend to invest in training, but the study also found that cost is not a primary factor when deciding to invest in training. This is good because the only thing you need to say to your CEO when you have this discussion is this: “If you want me to create this training program you have a choice – Good, Fast and Cheap — pick only two.”

If cost is not a primary driver in the decision-making process, then the choice made will be “Good and Fast.”

This is a typical theme that we L&D professionals live every day of our professional lives, that we are expected to deliver training programs quickly at a minimal cost. It is a challenge not unique to the training department, but a challenge nonetheless. If CEOs are telling us they intend to continue to invest in training and that cost is not a primary factor, then we have a window of opportunity to make the case for developing great training programs and get the resources to do it.

The increase in spending on training is not the only useful theme uncovered in recent surveys. A few other industry trends are popping up over and over again, and I think you should be aware of them.

Mobile Learning is Imminent: 61% of business leaders say they have mobile strategy ready to go and 24% say they will embrace mobile learning soon. Mindflash customers are ready for this one because Mindflash courses will work beautifully on iPads.

Content Might Not Be King: 42% of CEOs say that the length of training is more important than content. So as it turns out, content might not be king. Think about it, do you really need to spend thousands of dollars per employee to send them to Microsoft Excel training classes, when your employees can learn to be Excel experts by watching YouTube videos and practicing what they learned on stretch projects you have assigned them? The point CEOs are making is that they cannot afford to spend money and several days of non-working time to send people away from the office for training. Being creative with content, people can learn necessary skills without being removed from work for hours or days at a time.

13% Say Cost is Most Important Factor: Be careful with this one. Anyone who has ever been on the wrong end of a budget cut or downsizing knows training is often one of the first things to go. And in my opinion, this stat is evidence that what people say is different from what people do. Meaning..when it comes right down to it, making the numbers may be more important than spending $500,000 on leadership development. On the other hand, a quality training program, designed to help solve a business problem is a valuable investment CEOs will most often make.

Conclusion: Speed Speed, Speed: There is a recurring theme throughout this study. Speed. The time organizations allocate for training is shrinking and L&D professionals need to adapt. The speed of business is increasing and so are expectations of how fast we can deliver training. I know you don’t have the resources, and I understand that quality training requires skill, good processes, and time to develop. But complain all you want, CEOs don’t care about Bloom’s Taxonomy, Adult Learning Theories, or Gange’s Nine Events of Instruction. They care about performance. And our job is to help the business achieve the performance it is seeking, however that is defined.

Bill Cushard, author and learning experience (LX) designer, is a human performance technology (HPT) leader with extensive, in-the-trenches experience building learning organizations in start-up and hyper-growth organizations like E*TRADE, the Knowland Group, and Allonhill. You can follow him on Twitter or on Google+.

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