SOURCE: American Society for Training & Development (ASTD)

January 12, 2007 16:30 ET

ASTD Releases New Data on Workplace Learning Investments and Practices

U.S. Organizations Spend $109.25 Billion on Employee Learning Annually

ALEXANDRIA, VA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- January 12, 2007 -- Employee learning and development is taking center stage as business leaders increasingly understand that a highly skilled, knowledgeable workforce is critical to achieving growth and success. In its new 2006 State of the Industry Report, the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD) finds that leading organizations increased learning investments in two key areas: annual expenditure per employee and learning hours. And, organizations' investments in learning technologies are paying off through cost savings and efficiency gains as e-learning reaches a high level of sophistication.

ASTD estimates that U.S. organizations spend $109.25 billion on employee learning and development annually, with nearly three quarters ($79.75 billion) spent on the internal learning function, and the remainder ($29.50 billion) spent on external services. With such a sizable investment in employee learning, how do exemplary organizations get the most out of these investments, measure the efficiency and effectiveness of learning, and align learning with business goals?

In its 2006 State of the Industry Report, ASTD provides data from leading organizations in the Benchmarking Forum (BMF) -- large Fortune 500 companies and public sector organizations -- and ASTD BEST Award winners, alongside historical data dating back to 1999. The report provides data from these exemplary organizations, which readers can use to benchmark their organizations' learning investments and practices.

"As business leaders focus on top-line growth, the value of learning is becoming better understood and more relevant," says Ray Rivera, co-author of the report and director of ASTD's Workplace Learning and Performance Scorecard in the research department. "Those leaders who understand how to drive business results in an increasingly competitive, global environment recognize that a better-trained workforce improves performance, and investing in employee learning and development is critical to achieving success."

Highlights from the report:

--  The average annual expenditure per employee in BMF organizations
    increased to $1,424 per employee in 2005, an increase of 4.0 percent from
    2004. Average expenditure per employee in BEST organizations was $1,616, an
    increase of 3.7 percent from 2004.
    
--  Expenditure as a percentage of payroll in BMF organizations remained
    at 2.20 percent in 2005. The average expenditure as a percentage of payroll
    in BEST organizations was 2.72 percent.
    
--  The number of hours of learning per employee in BMF organizations
    increased to 41 per employee in 2005. In BEST organizations, the average
    number of learning hours per employee rose to 43.
    
--  The use of technology to deliver learning was nearly the same in both
    samples: 36.9 percent in BMF organizations and 36.3 percent in BEST
    organizations. At least 60 percent of technology-based learning was online
    in 2005, and almost 90 percent of online learning was self-paced.
    
--  The outsourcing of learning is decreasing, as BMF organizations
    allocated 24.8 percent of their learning budget to external services in
    2005 (down from 30.0 percent in 2004). The percentage of budgets spent on
    external services in BEST organizations also declined in 2005, falling to
    23.9 percent.
    
ASTD would like to acknowledge the following sponsors for their support of the 2006 State of the Industry Report: platinum sponsor, Intrepid Learning Solutions; gold sponsor, Microsoft; and silver sponsors: INSEAD, KLA, and WebEx.

An executive summary of the report may be found at http://www.astd.org/astd/research/research_reports. Printed copies are available for purchase online: http://www.astd.org/ASTD/store. ASTD members may access an electronic copy of the report for free. Questions about the data should be forwarded to astdresearch@astd.org.

About ASTD

ASTD (American Society for Training & Development) is the world's largest association dedicated to workplace learning and performance professionals. ASTD's members come from more than 100 countries and connect locally in 140 U.S. chapters and 24 Global Networks. Members work in thousands of organizations of all sizes, in government, as independent consultants, and suppliers.

ASTD started in 1944 when the organization held its first annual conference. ASTD has widened the profession's focus to link learning and performance to individual and organizational results, and is a sought-after voice on critical public policy issues. For more information, visit www.astd.org.

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