U.S. firms spending more on employee training, development: Survey

Formal classroom training, elearning being replaced by just-in-time, social learning
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 01/24/2012

Spending on employee development among United States firms rose 9.5 per cent to an average of US$800 per learner in 2011, as organizations moved to combat the current skills gap in the labour market, according to a survey by Bersin & Associates.

The large business investment in social learning tools in 2011 nearly doubled to US$40,000 on average, found the survey of 600 employers in the U.S.

“U.S. companies are now reinvesting in training to address a major skills gap, which we identified in the market more than a year ago,” said Josh Bersin, CEO and president of Bersin & Associates. “Organizations are turning away from formal classroom training and even traditional elearning programs to deliver bite-sized learning on a continuous basis. In fact, our research shows that today, the demand is for ‘just the learning you need, just in time.'"

He added that the doubling of investment by large businesses on social media shows that social learning is no longer an experiment.

“Companies are using social learning to drive innovation in their learning organizations,” Bersin said. “By allowing users to actively interact and share knowledge, organizations are both empowering users to teach one another and are actively encouraging conversations that organically foster creativity and problem solving.”

The shift to online training and social learning has changed the mix of competencies needed on the learning and development team, said Bersin. Most traditional classroom instructors now find themselves spending much of their time outside of a physical classroom to deliver more training online and in one-on-one sessions with learners.

Employees received more development in 2011, with learners averaging 15.3 hours, up from 12.8 hours in 2010. Organizations are focusing more on getting employees to internalize the knowledge and apply the skills through continuous, reinforced learning environments. These efforts include manager coaching, collaborative tools, and experiential exercises, according to Bersin & Associates.

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