Budget cuts? what budget cuts?

Cath Everett
Freelance Journalist
WriteIT Business Ltd
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A huge 83% of UK managers expect their training budgets to either remain static or increase over the year ahead, with two-thirds saying that they have been unaffected by the difficult economic conditions.
Moreover, according to a survey among 96 business decision-makers undertaken by elearning provider SkillSoft, a massive 95% said that they now matched their training provision to business goals and strategy in order to measure return on investment.
The findings were largely mirrored in a similar US study undertaken among 748 organisations by Bersin & Associates. In a report entitled 'The Corporate Learning Factbook 2011: Benchmarks, Trends and Analysis of the US Training Market', the research and consulting firm revealed that, after two years of double-digit budget cuts, 2010 saw companies increase their training budget by 2% compared with 2009, spending an average of $682 per learner.
Part of the investment went on hiring an average of 6% extra staff, while expenditure on learning technologies also rose 10% year-on-year.
Josh Bersin, president and chief executive of the firm, said: "This uptick in training spending and staffing is good news for employees and employers. It is a clear signal that companies are no longer focused solely on cost-cutting and are looking at developing their leadership and organisational capabilities to win in the marketplace."
The research also found that the technology sector led the rebound in investment. Technology firms spent an average of 16% more on learning and development in 2010 than the previous year, while healthcare, retail and manufacturing companies also moderately increased their expenditure.
Banking and government bodies continued to cut their training programmes, however, with organisations in these sectors cutting budgets by between 4-6%. Meanwhile, a new trend towards purchasing informal self-service learning tools or services saw some 30% of US firms begin shifting their focus from more company-driven, formal learning programmes, the report said.

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