Competitors are upping their learning spend — what about you?
  • leadership
  • Blog post

Competitors are upping their learning spend — what about you?

If you’re reading this blog, it’s likely because you’re interested in having your employees learn the skills they need and develop their talents for the future. But are you putting your money where your ambitions lie?

Well, your competitors are. According to a recent study by Bersin, the workforce analytics arm of the Deloitte consultancy, learning & development budgets across the country rose 15% on average in 2013, to $1,169 per learner. To gather the data, Bersin contacted around 300 U.S. organizations in the last quarter of 2013.

The 2013 increase represented an acceleration of the trend that’s been going on since the end of the last recession in 2009, according to the Bersin data. Employee learning budgets grew by 2% in 2010, 10% in 2011 and 12% in 2012.

Priority on leadership
The biggest single chunk of those budgets went to leadership development, the study found. Organizations spent 35 cents on every learning dollar developing leaders — up and down the organization, from C-suite execs to front-line supervisors.

Bersin further found that more “mature” organizations — defined as those with a more developed strategic approach to learning & development — spent $1,353 per learner in 2013. That’s over one-third more than the average of $990 spent by organizations doing only incidental training in areas like compliance and job-specific skills.

The implications
I see at least two lessons that can be drawn from the Bersin study:

1. With many employers reporting increasing difficulty in finding qualified employees, the emphasis at winning organizations is on developing their own people; in other words, building rather than buying the capabilities they need now and in the future. In this landscape, if you’re not expanding your learning efforts, you’re probably falling behind your competitors in workforce planning and development.

2. You don’t grow great leaders by accident. If you want to improve your leaders’ ability to plan, motivate and execute, you’ve got to allocate serious learning & development money to leadership training.

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