Canadian firms not investing enough in training: report

Canadian firms spent $768 per employee in 2001, American firms spent $1,137

Canadian organizations spent less than forecast on training and development in 2001 and do not project future increases, according to the Conference Board of Canada.

The board said countries that invest in learning produce workers who are more innovative and competitive in the global knowledge economy, but Canadian firms do not fare well in employee training investments compared to other countries.

“Canadian organizations continue to lag behind our major international competitors for overall investment in training and development,” said Judith MacBride-King, director of human resources management research at the Conference Board of Canada. “The persistent under-investment will ultimately affect our productivity and competitiveness on the world stage.”

According to Training and Development Outlook 2003, actual formal training expenditures in 2001 were $768 per employee, lower than the $859 per employee Canadian organizations had forecast. The gap between U.S. and Canadian organizations is significant, the board said, as U.S. employers spent $1,137 per employee in 2001.

MacBride-King said the economic slowdown in 2001 is responsible for the cost-cutting measures by Canadian firms that resulted in decreased or static investments in formal training.

“But if we really want to be ahead of the pack globally, organizations need to get serious about investment in learning,” she said.

This is the seventh edition of the Conference Board of Canada’s report on training and development. It is based on a survey of 158 participants, primarily medium and large organizations in Canada’s major regions and industries.

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