As learning designers and developers, it’s hugely important that we understand how people learn and like to learn, so we can help companies implement the most effective and engaging training programmes. A big part of this is tracking trends on learning consumption in the workplace. That includes interesting facts like how much employers spend on training, whether that learning is face-to-face or online, and even what employers want to focus their training on.
The annual ATD State of the Industry is a must-read for anyone wanting to gain a better insight into the world of learning and development. The 2019 stats are based on self-reported data from 318 organizations of varying sizes, locations and industries.
Let’s have a look at some of the key takeaways:
L&D continued to attract significant investment
Companies spent $1,299 per employee each year, up slightly from $1,296 the previous year, showing that companies continue to take L&D seriously and are willing to invest in it. Drilling into that further, they found that 62% of direct learning expenditure was spent on internal services, 27% on learning suppliers, and 11% on tuition reimbursement.
Employees spent 34 hours a year doing formal training
That’s over four days a year focussing on specific training courses or programmes and doesn’t include on-the-job learning. This is in line with the 34.1 learning hour average from the two previous years.
Managerial training remained a top priority
With 14% of all content dedicated to managerial and supervisory skills, this area continued to be a key focus for employers. This seems logical, given that almost two-thirds of talent development professionals think there’s a managerial and supervisory skills gap within their organisations1.
Other top content areas were:
- mandatory and compliance training (13%)
- interpersonal skills (10%)
- profession-specific and industry-specific (10%)
- processes, procedures, and business practices (10%)
Over half of all learning was face-to-face
Traditional classroom or instructor-led learning accounted for 54% of all training, while virtual classroom learning accounted for 11%. This clearly demonstrates the significance that employees and employers put on live facilitators. However, with almost a quarter of learning hours assigned to online learning, we mustn’t forget that this also plays an important role in employees’ training as a whole.
Don’t underestimate on-the-job learning
We understand the importance of on-the-job learning (check out our Workplace Learning video here) and so did the majority of the companies surveyed. In fact, 55% of companies emphasised on-the-job learning to a high or very high extent.
Though it’s difficult to gauge exactly how many hours employees spend on this, ATD were able to collect information on the types of on-the-job learning used.
Here are the top five most common types:
- In-person employee knowledge sharing (53.2%)
- Coaching by peers (43.7%)
- Coaching by managers (41.6%)
- Employee knowledge sharing on-the-job aided by technology (24.4%)
- Job shadowing (22.7%)
Of course, in light of COVID-19, it will be interesting to see what happens to training in the coming months and years. It seems inevitable that we’ll see a much bigger shift to virtual classroom and online training. Regardless of delivery type, to survive this period of uncertainty, companies need to invest in their staff – not only to bolster productivity, but to ensure they feel valued and appreciated.
- Association for Talent Development (ATD), Bridging the Skills Gap: Workforce Development and the Future of Work (Alexandria, VA: ATD Press, 2018).