"Investment in learning and development remained steady through one of the most challenging business years in more than a decade."
Despite a challenging economic environment, more than $125.88 billion was spent on learning and development in 2009. While the use of social media has skyrocketed in the last 18 months, e-learning has resumed its steady climb as a valuable tool in organizational learning to improve efficiency. The ease of use and ease of accessibility have made e-learning important in the competitive landscape.
Data from the 2010 ASTD State of the Industry Report showed that business leaders continued to dedicate substantial resources to employee learning - a far cry from the response this industry got during the last recession, when training was the first thing to go during budget cuts. Learning and development expenditures in 2009 were treated as key investments for organizations - as must-haves, not nice-to-haves.
One company that values learning is DaVita, and as you will read in the cover story on page 34, the kidney dialysis company changed its culture to emerge from bankruptcy and employee disillusionment to a best-place-to-work company that focuses on its people.
As DaVita CEO Kent Thiry explains in the article, cutting training is like cutting education - you're tampering with the future. "When the recession first hit, we had to give up a lot of things," he explains. "There were some questions about pulling back on training. So I asked, 'If you're a village and there's a recession, do you close the schools down?' No you don't. You prune here and there, but you don't stop educating. That's the future."
It's taken this profession a long time to get to this point. It's all about communicating the value of employee development and getting buy-in at the executive level. No industry was immune to this economic recession, and although the learning functions had to manage costs and adapt to smaller budgets, learning and development proved that it is key to economic survival, recovery, and future growth.