The Training Press Releases news site – among others – has reported research by Learning and Skills (L&S), the new exhibition being co-located with Learning Technologies in January 2010, which has found that businesses are responding to the changing economy by continuing to invest in skills that will be needed in the future. Donald H Taylor, chair of the L&S Group’s membership community, is quoted as saying: “Training budgets used to be cut as a way of saving costs whereas, this time, companies seem to have recognised the need to keep investing in skills.”
A recent report on the FT’s website quoting research from the IoD, has corroborated the L&S Group’s observations: finding that four out of five business leaders are maintaining or increasing their spend on training and citing the same reasons for the shift in focus over previous recessions.
Comment: These findings – that training budgets are not being cut in the current recession – seem to fly in the face of hard nosed experience. The answer to this apparent paradox may lie in the fact that the answers you get depend on what questions you ask and how you ask those questions.
For example, a senior training executive at a large, internationally known ‘fuel and power’ producer recently stated – undoubtedly truthfully – that that company’s training budget had not been cut during the current recession. However, the same executive went on to comment, off the record, that although the budget had not been cut, no one was allowed to spend any of it.
Thus, it is easy to see why surveys about the current size of training budgets are revealing optimistic results and even entertain the hope that organisations are being far-sighted enough to be developing their workers’ skills to take advantage of the recovery. However, it also equally easy to see why even the most successful learning materials producers are scratching around looking for work – and there are current rumours that even a market leader such as LINE Communications has recently been forced into involuntarily reducing its workforce.