26 November 2013
A new survey by Skillsoft has found that 1 in 3 organisations have undergone Learning and Development (L&D) budget cuts in the past two years, with another one-third seeing their budgets flat line.
The research, titled Learning and Development Trends in Australia and New Zealand (ANZ), surveyed 250 learners and decision-makers in more than 150 businesses and 20 industry sectors. It found that employers are investing significantly in L&D, with more than half spending upwards of $900 and 1 in 4 spending more than $1,500 per learner.
However, just a small proportion of that spend is allocated to elearning. Although 94% of surveyed organisations provide elearning resources, just under half (47%) spend less than 20% of their budget on them; and more than half (53%) aren't actively encouraging learners to use these resources.
Given the budget pressures facing L&D departments, Skillsoft's Australia & New Zealand Regional Director, Rosie Cairnes, said these results are somewhat surprising.
"Against a backdrop of tight budgets and employees' demands for flexibility, elearning is something of a missed opportunity for organisations right now".
The survey also found that learners want to be able to learn whenever they can in their busy schedules. More than half want to undertake some of their learning at home, and one-quarter during their daily commute. Yet only 41% of organisations provide access to learning via mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops, despite the fact that 74% of learners would welcome this mode of access.
"Due to IT and security challenges, organisations are struggling to keep up with demand for anytime-anywhere learning. Where it's done well however, we're seeing high levels of learner engagement and satisfaction – particularly when organisations mix technology-based approaches with traditional classroom methods, to offer blended learning solutions," Ms Cairnes said.
Participants in L&D programs are enthusiastic overall, with more than 3 in 4 respondents (78%) saying they've been able to apply the skills they've gained; 61% recognising a direct, positive impact on their job performance; and 77% saying they value learning programs and find the time to take advantage of them.
Nonetheless, more than half (54%) of learners say they feel a constant pressure to set aside time for learning and development, underlining the need for flexible programs that provide work/life balance.
"Organisations can help learners to ease this pressure by offering learning in smaller portions, and leverage the natural benefits of technology through elearning to provide greater flexibility in course schedules," Ms Cairnes said.
Given the strong interest from employees, organisations face the challenge of ensuring their L&D programs are cost-effective and scalable, according to Skillsoft.
"Offering more learners, more opportunities can increase employee engagement and retention, as well as improve performance. However, achieving this means looking critically at resources, how they are allocated and their return on investment," Ms Cairnes said.
However, around 1 in 3 organisations aren't evaluating their investment in L&D, according to the survey. And while 64% of surveyed organisations do evaluate their programs, only around a quarter (24%) go beyond measurement and actively make adjustments to their learning programs.
"An effective evaluation process enables organisations to improve L&D offerings, determine the impact on the business, and get greater buy-in at executive level. This is even more valuable if it goes beyond the traditional metrics of learner participation and satisfaction, to include value-based measurements such as Return on Investment or Skillsoft's own Value Impact Analysis," Ms Cairnes said.
The report concludes that by focusing on three key areas, L&D leaders can deliver substantial value to their organisation and its employees.
"Our survey findings point to three areas L&D teams should focus on in order to drive both sustainability and growth for the organisation: Boosting learner engagement; managing L&D budgets effectively; and measuring the impact and effectiveness of L&D will ensure L&D continues to win the support of both learners and decision-makers alike," Ms Cairnes said.
To view the full insights, download your complimentary copy of the report here.