Outsourcing and technology the way forward for L&D

Companies look for more targeted training to improve performance

The good news coming from the world of L&D, both anecdotally and from research, is that spending on training seems to back on the increase. Reports in 2010 showed the average spend per learner was down an amazing two-thirds on its 2007 levels and L&D budgets had been reduced by more than half in the previous year. This year has seen a tentative increase in spending per learner with companies once again showing confidence in their future prospects; helped in no small part, though, by the need to train new workers taken on after several years of skeleton workforces.

But the real news from the upturn in spending is not so much about the amount being spent, but what that money is being spent on. Companies are looking to get more bang for their buck when it comes to L&D and this means they are trying to work smarter with their training budgets. Earlier in the year a Bersin & Associates study found companies in the US were now investing almost the same proportion on learning technologies as they were before the financial meltdown. This increase was largely aimed at introducing informal learning processes and taking advantage of ecommerce opportunities, meaning companies could train more for less and provide programmes which really focused on their business issues. These findings built on the American Society for Training & Development’s State of the Industry report which highlighted the first spike in spend on training outsourcing since 2004 as organisations looked to streamline their processes, take advantage of the cost savings offered by a managed service and really focus their spending on learning optimisation. As the year has moved on we’ve seen more research coming out to back up these findings.

The CIPD’s latest Coaching Climate report revealed the proportion of external coaches being used by companies increased by almost 50% in the past year, showing more and more organisations are looking outside their workforce to find L&D solutions. Meanwhile, the 2011 ESI Learning Trends Report found that while budgets were likely to remain the same, companies were looking for more targeted, results-orientated training that had a real business impact and were turning to blended learning solutions like self-paced web programmes to provide more effective training. The evidence on the ground, then, suggests organisations are really starting to explore different options to provide better value for the money they spend on L&D and seem to be finding outsourcing solutions and working smarter with technology are the best ways to achieve that goal.