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L&D managers confident despite budget cuts


Learning and development managers may be over-optimistic about their ability to cope with expected budget and staff cuts over the next six months, a new report has warned.

The study entitled the 'UK Learning Trends Index', the first in a regular six-month survey to be undertaken by online learning content provider GoodPractice and industry training organisation The Learning Sanctuary, revealed that 44% of respondents anticipate suffering 'moderate' or 'substantial' falls in budget over the months ahead. A further 37% also forecast staff reductions.
Nonetheless, a huge 87% believed they would still be able to meet the learning needs of their organisation effectively, 56% claimed they would have an increasing impact on corporate performance and 52% felt their status would increase as they progressively made more strategic contributions to their organisation.
Peter Casebow, GoodPractice's chief executive, said that the research showed that L&D managers were increasingly confident about the contribution they were making and the impact on the organisation they were having.
But he added: "We would want to examine whether this growing confidence is misplaced and ask if the respondents were too optimistic about their ability to make an impact."
The study also showed that the key focus for just under a quarter of respondents was leadership development. Next on the list was boosting professional and technical skills (11%), followed by interest in change and talent management (10%).
But Casebow said: "It is interesting to see the continued focus on leadership development within organisations, but we would question whether this is at the detriment of other learning areas and ask what would be the impact on organisational performance with such a tight focus here."
As a result of budget cuts, meanwhile, almost two thirds of those questioned expected to rely more on informal learning approaches. Just over three quarters also expected to make more use of technologies such as elearning or virtual delivery, while about half planned to increase their employment of social media.
A further quarter planned to cut their use of external coaches, while just under two out of five were set to reduce the amount they relied on outsourcing providers.
The picture was more mixed for in-house trainers, however, with 27% expecting to increase usage, 20% predicting it would drop and 53% forecasting that the current situation would remain unchanged.

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