Last week I attended a Canadian Community of Corporate Educators (CCCE) event where Dr. Alan Middleton from the Schulich Executive Education Centre spoke about business spending on training. He highlighted that while The Conference Board of Canada reported a modest increase in spending on training from 2010 to 2013, there has been an overall decline the past couple of decades. Dr. Middleton also discussed the VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) world we live in and the challenges this condition presents.
For many businesses, training tends to be one of the first areas to face cost-cutting measures. This is ironic since we know a well-trained workforce not only improves worker retention, but also improves customer satisfaction and brand loyalty as well as fostering creativity and innovation for the development of new products and services. The Conference Board’s Learning and Development Outlook showed employers spent an average of $705 per employee on training. This is up slightly from 2010, however, still down significantly from $1207 per employee in 1993.
The likelihood our world will continue to offer volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous conditions is certain. The benefits a company may experience through cutting training budgets will be short lived. The longer term pay-off will be a decline in a skilled workforce and a stale environment for innovation. Canada is now well behind leading European countries in the number of hours of non-formal, job-related training, can companies afford not to invest in their people?