2014 ATD (ASTD) State of the Industry Report

Well for those of us fascinated by L&D statistics and the meaning and implications behind them, ATD (Formerly ASTD) have just released their annual state of the industry report for 2014.  So what does it have to say and what implications can we draw from it.

So what did it cost?

Firstly we see that spending on training for organisations has gone up, not by much, around 1%, but still it has gone up to an average of $1208 per employee.  The interesting thing about this number is that it is much higher for smaller organisations (less than 500 staff) at $1,888 and much lower for large organisation (over 10,000 staff) at $838 per employee.  Much of this can be put down to larger organisation being able to take advantage of economies of scale when it comes to development, maintenance and delivery costs of training and have the same dollar spend spread over a large group of employees.

We see also that learning hours used is about 31.5 hours per employee across the board which is relatively the same as last few years.  An interesting wrinkle to this average is that medium size companies (500-9,999 employees)  only come in at about 27 learning hours used per employee and while this might be interesting to attempt to investigate further, it may simply have to do more with the relative size of the data samples then any other actual trend.  Again we also saw that direct expenditure on learning as a percentage of revenue again remained relatively stable at around 1.2%.  The vast majority of this spend is, as it has been for many years, made up by the internal costs to organisations for the delivery of training, remaining again in the mid 60% range.  With external services (27%) and tuition reimbursement (10%) making up the balance.


So what did we deliver and how?

The three content areas that made up more than 34% of all the training delivered were;

  1. Mandatory and Compliance Training
  2. Managerial and Supervisory
  3. Profession or Industry specific

with the bottom 3 areas being;

  1. Executive Development
  2. Interpersonal Skills and
  3. Basis Skills

As far as delivery methods for training goes the winner and continuing champion by a long margin is of course – Instructor Led Classroom Based.  Yes folks yet again, face to face classroom bases training got the gong for being the most frequently used delivery method at 54.6%.  Not a bad effort for the old-timer in my opinion.  To be fair to the up and coming, much-lauded new world of learning deliver self paced online learning came in second with 17.9% and the most important game changing learning and development technology mobile or m-learning came in with a massive 1.7%.  All right I apologies for being a little facetious there, but I think what these numbers show is something quite simply for all of the rhetoric about mobile learning being the most important development in L&D ever are simply well not stacking up at the moment at least. Even when we throw all of the technology based delivery methods together they still only account for about 38% with the balance being taken up by options like self based print based learning (which by itself and I find this incredibly interesting  accounts for 4.75% of delivery, three times higher than mobile learning).

So what is this all mean.  Well I think for the most part we as an industry should be happy with the results.  We are seeing consistency in spend and the kinds of training being delivered.  There seems to be no great surprises (well except for those who tout M-learning as the next big thing, ok I will stop now) and seems to be to be much what you would expect from a stable, mature industry that know what its goals are.






About pauldrasmussen
Paul Rasmussen is one of Australia’s most widely read Vocational Education and Training Commentators. He provides deep, unbiased analysis and insights not only on topical issues, but also on the underlying structure and policy which supports the industry. His writing and analysis has been praised for its uncompromising and thought provoking style and its ability to focus on the issues of real importance to the sector. He has advised various government departments and ministers, training providers, public and private organisations, not for profits and small to medium enterprises on the VET sector and the issues and opportunities facing it. He is one of Australia’s most awarded learning professionals and a regular speaker at a range of conventions and forums. His extensive experience in vocational education, and learning and development coupled with formal qualifications in philosophy, ethics, business and education management allow Paul to provide a unique view of the road ahead and how to navigate it.

3 Responses to 2014 ATD (ASTD) State of the Industry Report

  1. Paul,

    While I appreciate your sarcasm related to the latest and greatest source of LnD development being m-learning, I think the lack of uptake is directly related to the “older” managers (like yourself) who have the same attitude you do towards this methodology, and until the old crew stands down, the newer types of LnD options will remain stifled.

    We have found that blended solutions are working quite well for many of our customised training solutions, some of which include at least some aspect of on-demand post course support like videos, access to forums and other support tools, much of which only takes 1-3 minutes to review.

    Having said that, face-to-face ILT will probably stay at the forefront of business driven LnD because it is the “norm” and HR/LnD people are comfortable with it.

    We launched smart tablets in our courses this year to try and replace printed courseware and were quite surprised at the “push back” we received from participants; many of whom just wanted a book to scribble notes in and leave in their desk as usual, instead of gaining access to a true LnD support tool that goes with them everywhere.

    We are striving for a better type of knowledge transfer and believe technology does offer some great options, especially in the ease of access to post course support materials.

    When comparing the 4.75% of self-paced printed-based learning to the 1.7% uptake of m-learning, I think if your boss walked up behind you while you were reading a book or webpage that was clearly training content, he or she would not have an issue with this type of self driven learning, but when your boss sees you staring at your phone or tablet, there may be an assumption that whatever you’re doing it’s not work related, again driving people to do what they’ve always done.

    • pauldrasmussen says:

      Curtis, I take your point but I disagree, I am an older L&D type, however I am highly technically adept and a rampant early adopter. I want to see if things are useful and how they might be utilised is an organisational sense. I also know that this is the case with a large number of my peers in my networks. The problem is that it seems to fail at the user end. Staff don’t want to engage with organisational learning in that way. This of course may be to do with their own lack of technological abilities and when the next generations come through the uptake might be higher. I was at a conference last year with a bunch of L&D types of various generations and roles where the issue of m-learning was discussed and there was a resounding lack of interest, the main reason being that their staff, the people they were tasked with training we simply uninterested it. These things may change over time, but at the moment we are just not seeing the impact.

  2. Eric Livingston says:

    Being an avid believer in the value of face to face delivery and a little concerned at the way the industry is heading (online etc), I am buoyed by the results in Paul’s post – the old ways aren’t gone yet and nor will they be. There will always be a place for all platforms as individual needs will govern which platform suits who and for what purpose. I expect industry factors will be a great influencer in what modes of learning get adopted. My area relies on the face to face method as it is difficult to get true meaning across on an IT interface around the mechanics and dynamics of personal interaction and how someone physically / emotionally responds in times of stress. It is interesting though the us or them nature of these comments as blended learning seems to be a logical approach for our fast paced learn now society.

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