Fifteen years ago, in 1998, ASTD published its first State of the Industry Report, which revealed a picture of training that was rich, comprehensive, and complex. Its intended purpose, according to Curtis Plott, president and CEO of ASTD at the time, was to provide "growing evidence of a demonstrable link between learning and performance in the workplace."
The article in this issue provides that same rich, comprehensive, and complex view of workplace learning in 2012. According to ASTD's 2013 State of the Industry Report, overall spending on employee training in U.S. organizations increased from $156 billion in 2011 to $164 billion in 2012.
"Organizations continue to invest in their employees by offering training and development opportunities delivered in person or online," writes Laurie Miller, director of ASTD's research services. "They are implementing new learning methods and technologies to stay relevant and control costs in economic conditions where they are being challenged to develop more employees with the same or fewer learning resources."
Although spending on workplace learning has increased during the past 15 years, one thing has remained constant: Training and development is a key organizational investment. In the 1998 report, ASTD estimated that U.S. organizations spent a total of $55.3 billion on formal training and $504 per employee. The current 2012 data show that $100.2 billion was spent on direct learning expenditures, and on average $1,195 was spent per employee.
As you will read in the cover story, Hikmet Ersek, president and CEO of The Western Union Company, understands the importance of learning in his company's success. "Learning cannot be isolated. It has to be integrated into business processes," he says. "Many companies get that wrong. They consider their training budgets in isolation from the integration of learning into work. Good training pays for itself in results. Do we have a culture that offers perfect learning experiences? No. Are we getting there? Yes."
The data in this report are invaluable in helping organizations measure their learning investment against other companies.
State of the Industry data are presented in three groupings—consolidate responses, ASTD BEST Award winners, and Fortune Global 500 companies-against which training and development professionals can benchmark learning investments and best practices in their organizations.