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.

 

 

 

 

 

Interfaced Learning – The acquisition and disacquisition of skills and knowledge in the digital world

As some of you may have guessed from my recent posts the #lrn2024 concept has stuck a cord with the philosopher and futurist in me (for those of you who don’t know I am shall we say a Philosopher by trade) and got me thinking about a number of things.  In particular in the changes the way we learn (and I am becoming a little more careful about using this term now) and acquire skills and knowledge.  This is in part driven by the concept that it seems that there may be or may be developing what could a significant difference between what we would traditionally consider to be learning and shall we say the acquisition of a skill or piece of knowledge.  I would argue, and I may at some point, that more so than ever in the past (and I believe this will increase in the coming years) it is becoming possible for me to acquire a skill, in most cases quite rapidly, utilise that skill and then for want of a better word disaquire that skill just as rapidly.

An example of this is my recent renovations of our house, including things like sanding and polishing floors, tiling and cutting and installing trim for the ceiling.  If we take a look at cutting the ceiling trim it provides a great example.  We had done everything else in the bathroom and the last thing to do was the trim between the ceiling and wall, so I went, ‘how hard can it be’ and went and looked at the trim in the rest of the house and the old trim that had been removed and then made an attempt (with a couple of test pieces to make the appropriate cuts.  I failed.  Given this result it was off to the wonderful world of YouTube, where I learnt about mitre boxes and the like, then armed with the knowledge and a rapidly purchased mitre box, proceeded to with relative ease cut and install the trim.  With that task achieved and the likelihood of me needing to do it again in the near future, and the availability of YouTube, promptly disacquired that skill.  Now why do I say disacquire that skill rather than forget, well I haven’t totally forgotten it, could I do it again now without the help of YouTube, probably not, but my reacquisition time would be much less time.  This is also the reason I used the term acquire the skill rather than learn, because I would argue that at no point did I learn the skill cut trim using a mitre box.

Now lets juxtapose this against the more traditional way of learning, or acquiring skills, where one is shown or taught a skill by someone who already possesses that skill and then practices that skill, usually under the guidance again of someone who already possesses that skill, until they are recognised as being able to perform the skill independently.  It is important to note that I am not suggesting that there is anything wrong with this traditional method,  that its time has passed, or that it doesn’t and will not have a place in the learning environment.  I am suggesting however that this Interfaced Learning (where I acquire skills and knowledge rapidly through some kind of interface device and in most cases disaquire them almost as quickly) is not only upon us, but is something that will increase in usage and application and new technologies and out understanding of the brain and how we learn increases.

It is clear I think that if we look at the rise and usage of not only e-learning and mobile learning, but instructional videos on youtube and a range a n variety of apps from which we can pull information and knowledge when we require it that this concept of Interfaced Learning is already upon us.  Be it a desktop computer, a tablet, a mobile phone, or (and I would love to explore this idea more, and yes this is a shameless plug this lovely piece of tech should be available in Australia) things like Google Glass, we are already surrounded by these interfaces and we use them constantly to access information and to acquire skills and knowledge, which we then utilise and promptly disacquire because we no longer need to that skill, knowledge or piece of information.

In fact it seems to me that there are some fairly mundane examples of this where we have been utilising this process for quite a long period of time, even before the rise of e-learning.  Think of the shared drive or the web portal which holds policies and procedures for an organisation.  Organisations have actively discouraged the printing of documents from these location and actively encouraged staff to check the central repository to ensure the latest knowledge.  Effectively the organisation is saying, don’t learn this, simply access it when you need it and apply it, thus ensuring (hopefully) that everyone is always working with the latest and most correct information.  They are actively promoting the rapid acquisition and disacquisition of knowledge through a readily available interface.

The more I think about this subject the more it seems that moving forward this concept of only holding skills and knowledge is one that is increasing.  We talk a lot about just in time learning, rapid upskilling, knowledge sharing and the like, and most of these concepts are wrapped around the delivery of content through some interface device and in a lot of cases we are not expecting the person to have completely learnt and integrated the skill or knowledge, at least in the traditional sense, after they have access the information once, but we seem to expect them to behave, at least for a short period of time as if they do possess that skill of knowledge.  There also seems every reason to suspect that this interfaced learning process will increase and we will see more and more skills and knowledge delivered to us in this way.

So I would really love to hear any thoughts you might have on this.

Creating a High Impact Learning Culture

2013 ASTD State of the Industry Report

So as many of you know I am an avid consumer of the ASTD’s yearly State of the industry Report and guess what, the 2013 edition is now available.

So what does it have to save about the world of L&D this year. Well it is interesting, there is not a lot of change from last years report.  We see that spending on L&D globally was about $164.2 Billion with an average direct expenditure per employee of about $1,195.  In terms of Average Direct Expenditure, this represents a very small ($13) increase over last year.

Again however Learning hours used per employee stuck at around the 30 hours mark, 30.3 this years to be exact.  On suggestion for this stalling over the last four years in the increase in usage of non-traditional instructor led training and the more informal, workplace, just in time learning which is much harder to track and quantify.  We also see that Direct expenditure as percentage of payroll rise only slightly to 3.6% as has the Direct expenditure of percentage of revenue rising slightly to 1.32%.

There has also been little or no change in the percentage of expenditure taken up by internal costs which remains steady at 61.5%, lower that 2009 (62.4%) but higher than last year (60.5%).  There has however, been a not insignificant (5%) drop in the number of employees per L&D staff member which now sits at 299:1, there is an even more startling drop of  around 40%, in this number in the ASTD BEST organisations, taking the number there from 288:1 down to 178:1.

The cost of learning has also gone up both in terms of the cost of providing one hour of training to one employee, rising to $89 and the overall cost of developing one hours training rising to  $1,772, a rise of 20% over the last 4 years.  Some reasons suggested for this increase if the up front costs of technology and the reduction in the ratio of employees to L&D staff members.

Managerial and Supervisory training makes up the largest content area for Learning programs, closely followed by mandatory and compliance training, business process and practices, and industry specific training with these four areas taking up just of 40% of all the learning programs delivered.  How these programs were delivered tells what I think is an interesting story however, while yet again, instructor led classroom delivery dropped (5% down to 54.28) and technology based learning rose slightly to 39.20% which is not unexpected.  What I find interesting is that  All Online delivery has remained around the same percentage, (27.29% this year) since 2008.  When you pair this with the fact that instructor lead training (either classroom or online/remote) accounted for some 70% of all training delivered, it seems to suggest, at least in my opinion that participants like to have instructors to interact with even when utilising online training.  The other final thing I find interesting about the content and delivery data is that while there was a big jump in the percentage of hours used in terms of mobile technologies between 2009 and 2010, this usage has flattened out of the last three years remaining at 1.51%

So what does all this data mean?  A couple of comments I would make would be that

  1. Instructor led learning is still the preferred method of delivery for a large amount of participants,
  2. New technologies may have had a quite significant effect on the overall cost of the development of training,
  3. Mobile learning is not the powerhouse, game changing, way of the future that everyone keeps suggesting it is.

I would be interested to know what others think of the data and what it means for the industry.

Primary, Secondary, Tertiary and VET education

Is Education Snobbery still alive and well in Australia?

As some of you might know one of my first posts on this blog was about Academic snobbery and the perceived value of VET qualifications, where I talked about the ‘I have a degree, why would I want a workplace (VET) qualification?’ and what it said about the perception of the value of VET sector qualifications.

This whole idea of the VET and organisational learning sectors, not being as professional, rigorous, or just plain good, as the ‘Teaching and Academic sectors’ has risen up in a number of conversations I have had with people recently.  This time however it has been the ‘But that just training’ or ‘They are just a trainer, I’m a teacher/lecturer’  commentary.  What I find really interesting about this is that I almost never here this language from people in the organisational learning and VET sectors only from those in the teaching and university sectors.  The other thing that I find interesting is this (and I am going to generalise here so beware);

Teachers are experts in practice of teaching, they are not for the most part subject matter experts;

Lecturers and Academics are subject matter experts, and not for the most part experts in the practice of teaching;

VET and organisation learning practitioners are expected to be both, they must have subject matter knowledge and expertise and they must hold training qualifications.

Now don’t get me wrong here, I am not saying that practitioners in the VET and organisational learning sector are better or more qualified than those in other sectors.   I have known over the years outstanding teacher, lecturers and trainers, I have also known some, in all three sectors, that were downright awful and made me wonder how they managed to continue to be employed.

So  lets stop this petty bickering about who or what sector is best, applaud great talent where we find it and work together to ensure that the people we educate get the best outcomes they can regardless of the sector they are in.

Learning to Change and Changing to Learn or BBQing the scared cows

 Why is it so hard to people to accept change?

 Sorry for the lack of posts recently the world of work was very busy over the last couple of weeks, which has amongst other things prompted my thinking around change in the workplace, changing how we learn and how we deliver learning and change management in general.

Organisational change is a difficult and sometimes messy beast, but there is a lot I think we can learn by changing and by thinking about how to change.  Over the past few months I have been involved heavily in assisting an organisation through a process of change around how a core piece of their training.  This is a total revamp of the package, content packaging, delivery, even the outcomes of the training and its structure to achieve those outcomes.  We really were BBQing sacred cows with this change and there in lies the issues I wanted to touch on today.  The concept of changing something in order to learn and people and organisations learning how to change.

To paint a little bit of a picture, there had been for about 12 months or so prior to this change been a level of discontent in some quarters about the training that was being delivered, particularly around how it was delivered and what the outcomes were, it was frankly, starting to show its age.  That is not to say that it was fatally flawed, just ideas about delivery and content had moved on as had the landscape into which its outcomes fell.

As a result a project was put together to look over the entire package of the training and see what could be done to make it better fit the outcomes that were needed.  Now it was made clear at the start of the project that there really wasn’t any part of the training that was out of scope, if something needed to be changed and there was good justification to change it and it was going to fit the outcomes better, then there was an ongoing commitment to change.

So after about 6 months of consultation and work the team started to talk about and show parts of the new package to stakeholders and this is where an interesting thing happened, a lot of the people who had been critical of the original training program, did not like what they were seeing and we heard things like,

“Why did you change that?”

“That’s not how we do things around here.”

“You have changed everything, it’s not the same course.”

People who had previously complained about the program were now defending it and a lot of the issues seemed to be around the fact that things had actually changed,  the Powerpoint hadn’t just been updated, the actual material, how it was being presented and the outcomes had all be reimagined.  It drove home to me the fact that a lot of the time people don’t actually want change or at least not real change, they want superficial change, so that they can still feel safe and comfortable in what they know.

It really strikes me as a shame though we as individuals and organisations learn so much through change, if everything stayed the same why would we need to learn anything new, how would we grow and become better at what we do.  In fact some of my strongest learning come out of the most confronting of changes.  Now I know that individuals and organisations have vested interests in staying where they are, in not changing, but not changing is an evolutionary dead-end, it goes nowhere.

Both as individuals and os organisations we really need to Learn to change and change to learn.

EduTech 2013 – Some comments and ideas

As  lot of you already know I spent the last two days at EduTech 2013 – Corporate and Government Learning Congress.

and already a couple of people who didn’t attend asked me ‘How was it?’  Well it was good, I enjoyed it, Day one was for me better than day (and I will explain why later) and again for those of you who know me I usually at these things spend a fair bit of time in the exhibition hall talking to vendors and seeing where things are going.  I often joke with people (though in truth it is not a joke) that I learn as much from the exhibition floor as I do from the presentations, that didn’t happen this time and I didn’t really spend all that much time in the exhibition area, why? Well I think because the focus of the entire event has traditionally been Formal Education k-12 and tertiary, and the corporate market is a very different one, there are different vendors and people like me are looking for very different things.

For example; wandering around I spoke with vendors who made an assumption that I worked for school, even though everyone had different coloured lanyards, (though to be completely fair I had a presenter one so I could have been anyone) and seemed confused when I said look sorry I don’t work for a school I work for a large organisation and seemed to continue to talk to me about something I was never going to be interested in, some of the stands even restricted entry into their competitions to people having a valid education institute email address it was little things like that, and that  I am not interest in hardware and servers I have an IT department for that, I am  not interested in school management software, i’m not a school.  I am interested in learning and training aids (and not just ones that involve ipads or technology) for adults, learning content and delivery, not curriculum, things that the corporate side of learning is interested in.

Now this might sound like a criticism, it is not meant to be, but I think there needs to be some work done in how the exhibition hall is set out, maybe segmenting it a little bit, perhaps as two people now have suggested, putting the ‘corporate’ venders in one section of the hall, rather than being spread out, something that makes it more engaging for me.

Now the exhibitors are one thing, the content is something else and it is the content on which a conference will ultimately thrive or fail.  As I said I liked day one much more than day two, why?, well that is simple, day one was much more practical with an array of outstanding  Learning talent, Charles Jennings is always great to listen too, and Natalie Goldman and Helen Blunden are outstanding practitioners with solid practical, hands on experience and wonderful delivery styles that engage and provide the audience with solid outcomes and value.  Day two was very different however, not in the skill or expertise of the presenters, but in the content.  My pick of the day was Ewan Macintosh from NoTosh, who offered some truly interesting insights followed closely by John Stericker who was insightful funny, without a single powerpoint slide to help him along (it was an outstanding job in my opinion as it was his first time presenting at a major conference).  As for the rest of the day, the breakout sessions were solid, but not as engaging as they might have been, and while I like to think about the future of L&D and data and all of those things, but what interests me and I think I lot of us in the game of corporate L&D is how to solve todays problems, how to engage with our learners today and over the next 12-18 months.  Now I know that is short-term thinking  and we need to look to the future and I talk about where we need to be and how to get there constantly at an executive level, but and here is the big but, there are plenty of problems that need fixing now and over the next 3-6 months that are in real terms far more important for us.

So all in all I had a really good time, I want to think Fiona, and Charles and Tony from EduTech, for being so helpful and making the experience a great one.  I hope you decide to continue with the corporate congress in 2014.  I look forward to attending.

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