Funding for learning and development has continued to fall as employer budgets feel the squeeze, according to the Chartered Institute of Learning and Development (CIPD)’s recently published annual Learning and Talent Development survey. According to the survey, some 40% of organisations have either decreased funding for learning and development this year or anticipate doing so, while only one in ten anticipates an increased investment in training in the next 12 months.

Some 54% of organisations report that their economic circumstances have declined in the past 12 months, with 33% reducing the use of external suppliers and moving to in-house provision as a result. According to the CIPD, the survey also found that companies have increased their use of lower-cost development practices such as e-learning (54%), coaching by line managers (47%), in-house development programmes (45%) and internal knowledge-sharing events (37%).

Meanwhile, public sector cuts are having a significant impact on learning and development, with public sector employers three times as likely as those in the private sector to report that the funding of learning and talent development will decrease in the next 12 months (three-quarters (76% compared with 26%). This compares with last year’s figures of 19% of public sector and more than half of private sector respondents reporting that they expected cuts.

Comment: None of these figures, nor the trends they illustrate, can have come as a surprise.

It is, of course, disappointing to see that e-learning is rated as a ‘lower cost’ learning and development option compared – presumably – with instructor-led training. For one thing, e-learning is not a direct competitor with, not complete substitute for, instructor-led training and, for another, e-learning should be judged on its quality and fitness for purpose rather than purely on its cost. However, the e-learning lobby can be pleased that, for whatever reason, e-learning appears to be receiving a boost in popularity in these challenging economic times. It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good, as the old saying goes.