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A week in training: L&D budgets strong for 2009


newsPollsters have been busy this week, we've predictions on the strength of L&D budgets and what they will be spent on. Skills look to be high on the agenda for managers, but there is scant evidence of L&D being aligned to the business in many UK organisations. And many UK managers seem to feel out of their depth – no wonder their development looks to be a key issue for 2009.

Despite the downturn, L&D budgets are looking strong for 2009, according to a poll of 254 senior L&D professionals. The survey, conducted at last month's World of Learning event, found that 44% of senior Learning and Development (L&D) professionals expected their annual budget to stay the same in 2009, while 24% expected an increase. Just 17% expected a budget cut.

Despite the good news for budgets, value seems set to be a hot topic for next year, with return on investment (ROI) expected to become more important, according to the survey by Cegos and 36% of respondents increasing their emphasis on elearning. More than half of those pollled said blended learning would be a key part of their training strategy and one in five respondents planned to embrace mobile learning in 2009. Management training is also looks set to a key area for development, with particular emphasis on those in the middle rungs of the corporate ladder.

The emphasis on middle managers would no doubt be welcomed by the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM), who this week called for greater emphasis on this sphere of development. Their own survey of 1,000 managers paints a picture of reluctant, and unprepared, leaders. Sixty per cent of those polled didn’t choose to become a manager, and many said they were stressed and lacked confidence in their own abilities. More than a quarter said they were unsure of their ability to manage others.

If the Cegos survey suggests that L&D is at last being valued by UK organisations, then a second report this week offers a less glowing analysis. A global survey, by Proudfoot Consulting, of 1,200 managers found that UK companies are spending less time training their staff than most other countries. The league table, which includes the USA, Russia, South Africa, India and Brazil alongside European countries, placed the UK last, spending just seven days a year training staff.

The survey also found that more than a quarter (28%) of UK managers said their company does not assess the effectiveness of corporate training, while 18% said they do not regularly assess training needs. Sixteen per cent of the UK managers said the training programmes that are provided are not aligned with their company’s strategic goals.

The glimmer of hope in the report, The Global Productivity Report, is that skills are seen as a priority, with 82% saying they planned to focus on improving productivity by investing in employee skills development and training over the next 12 months.

Good news too for retailer JJB Sports, which has secured £1m of government funding to provide customer service training for over 600 of its store staff. The training programme will focus on skills such as understanding the customer, building customer relations and working as a team. All staff completing the programme will receive an NVQ Level Two.


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