ATD Research: Employee Learning in 2019 Showed Strong Hours, Rising Use of Technology

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ATD research finds that the use of virtual classroom and self-paced e-learning grew at a rapid pace in 2019, even before the COVID-19 pandemic upended in-person learning.

"The average number of learning hours used ranged from 30.3 to 34.0 hours between 2012 and 2018, so the 2019 number is relatively high." — ATD's 2020 State of the Industry report

Spending on employee learning held fairly steady in 2019, according to the Association for Talent Development’s 2020 State of the Industry report, which is sponsored by AllenComm and Allego.

The average organization spent $1,308 per employee on learning and development in 2019 (close to the $1,299 seen in 2018), and each employee used 34.7 hours of formal learning (slightly more than four eight-hour workdays), up from 34 hours in 2018.

According to the report, “Formal learning hours only capture time spent on standalone learning activities, which are not embedded in on-the-job work activities. The average number of learning hours used ranged from 30.3 to 34.0 hours between 2012 and 2018, so the 2019 number is relatively high.”

“When it comes to staffing the talent development function, in 2019 the average TD staff member supported 403 employees (when not adjusted for outsourcing to learning suppliers). When adjusted for outsourcing, the ratio of employees to TD staff members was 330, down from 350 in 2018,” according to the report.

This year’s report also illustrates the increased role that technology played in training delivery, even before the COVID-19 pandemic halted in-person learning events. In 2019, more than 50 percent of all learning hours were delivered with technology-based methods—the highest percentage ever recorded for the State of the Industry report. One rapidly growing method was virtual classrooms, which rely on internet technology to connect a live instructor with learners in real time. Almost 20 percent of all learning hours were delivered via virtual classroom.

Other key findings included:

  • Fifty-six percent of organizations emphasized on-the-job learning to a high or very high extent (compared with 55 percent in 2018)
  • Forty-seven percent of respondents said that employees regularly used tablets for e-learning access and 41 percent frequently used smartphones
  • The top focus for learning were managerial and supervisory (14 percent), mandatory and compliance (13 percent), and profession-specific or industry-specific content (such as medical, engineering, or accounting; 13 percent)

ATD’s data came from 283 organizations representing a wide range of industries, company sizes, and locations. The most heavily represented industries were finance, insurance, and real estate.

A free webcast will take place December 10 at 2 p.m.

About ATD

The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is the world’s largest professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees, improve performance, and help to achieve results for the organizations they serve. Established in 1943, the association was previously known as the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD).

ATD’s members come from more than 120 countries and work in public and private organizations in every industry sector. ATD supports talent development professionals who gather locally in volunteer-led US chapters and international member networks, and with international strategic partners.

For more information, visit td.org.

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