It’s one of the most common things we hear from clients and prospects alike. “What are other organizations doing and how much are they investing in professional development?” A lot of the time, the organization asking that question seems to assume that most organizations are spending about the same each year, or even spending less. This assumption seems to be because of the awareness of the industries recognizing a very conservative approach to “non-essential” spending. We would argue that professional development isn’t “non-essential” for an organization, but that’s a completely different discussion and blog post.

We wanted to get down to the numbers of it all. Have organizations (corporations and associations alike) been spending more or less on professional development over the past several years? To do this, we studied ATD’s State of the Industry reports from the last few years and used data we collected as part of our own State of the Industry Report. Here’s what we found.


The Big Takeaway

For the past three consecutive years, the average direct learning expenditure per employee for professional development has increased. That’s right, increased! In fact, in 2014, the average direct learning expenditure was up nearly 2% over the previous year. Organizations are continuing to realize the extreme value that professional development can hold for them and they are investing in it more and more with the economy being stronger. Just like the ATD 2015 State of the Industry report, we did our own to get a pulse association spending. Our 2016 State of the Industry report supported ATD’s data, with an astounding 86% of our respondents saying their training budget would stay the same or increase over 2015.

Professional Development & Training are Cool Again

It’s incredibly interesting to us that such a large majority of organizations report maintaining or increasing their budgets in this area. The increase in direct learning expenditure is a sign of a strong economy and the value corporations place on having a well-educated workforce. For associations, a consistent or increasing budget will allow them to focus on program development, which is an area that nearly 40% of associations we polled stated was the highest priority for 2016 as it related to their CE programs. Investing in the development of more continuing education programs and content will only strengthen the membership value for associations.

As the data shows, professional development and training are cool again. With the economy doing better, organizations are finding room in their budgets to invest in their largest and most expensive asset. This is why it only makes sense to continue to develop the talent they have within their organizations to help everyone grow.

Are you doing the same and increasing your association’s or organization’s expenditure on professional development and training? Tell us why you are or are not doing so and what you’re seeing in your industry!

To access ATD’s entire 2015 State of the Industry Report, click here.

About Omnipress

Omnipress delivers educational content for associations and other organizations. Digital and print solutions for in-person, virtual, and hybrid conferences and training programs.

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