By Kevin Young
In the findings of a new SkillSoft survey amongst UK business leaders, two figures really stood out. Sixty-six – that’s the percentage of decision makers who said their training and e-learning budgets had not been affected by the economic downturn; and 83 – that’s the percentage of those polled who expect their training budgets to be retained or increase in the year ahead.
Pretty optimistic stuff.
At first, we wondered if our sample was truly representative and so looked to the wider international marketplace for corroborative evidence of similar trends. We didn’t have to look far – the SkillSoft findings are mirrored in a similar – though larger – study carried out by leading US research and consulting firm, Bersin & Associates. Their study, which looked at 748 organisations of varying sizes, showed that after two years of falling training budgets, 2010 saw funding stabilize and increase – if only by a modest two percent.
According to Bersin & Associates, it seems there’s a silver lining to the recessionary cloud – that companies have been forced to focus on the issues that really matter, intensifying the focus on workforce planning, with talent managers and business leaders asking themselves where they’re planning to be in five years time. The result is that business and talent strategies have become much more closely aligned.
Which brings us back to the third figure of interest from the SkillSoft research; 95 – that’s the percentage of respondents who say they match their training provision to business goals to measure success. It seems that today, more than ever, organisations are not content to sit back and hope that training works – they’re determined to prove it works, and they’re using skills appraisals, benchmarking business performance or running individual feedback programmes to measure effectiveness and demonstrate the return on investment for those hard-won training budgets.
We believe that delivering a fast – and demonstrable – return on investment is at the heart of any successful organisation and staff training is no exception.
Kevin Young is SkillSoft general manager EMEA, based in the UK.