Workplace learning and development - Statistics & Facts

Learning and development (L&D), also known as human capital development and upskilling, is the practice of improving the abilities, skills and work ethic of employees in order to enhance general workplace performance. L&D is about more than teaching employees the knowledge they need to perform the basic requirements of their job. It encompasses the broader process of absorbing information to increase skills and abilities across a variety of contexts, thereby allowing employees to better handle unexpected situations. In this respect L&D needs to be distinguished from training, which refers to teaching staff the skillset they need to perform a limited range of tasks. Given this distinction, it should not be surprising that the majority of L&D professionals consider leadership and communication skills most important skills to teach.

Globally, the L&D market size was estimated at 362.2 billion U.S. dollars, after a constant growth since 2009. The North American marketspent some 161.1 billion U.S. dollars in 2017, having grown by more than 50 billion U.S. dollars over the same period. This money is spent on a variety of learning methods, with face-to-face training being the most popular.

A significant trend in L&D over the last five years is the growth in the use of technology-assisted teaching. One study found that the number of technologies used by L&D departments has doubled between 2012 and 2017. Accordingly, 71 percent of companies reported using technologically assisted teaching such as online training courses . This figure can be expected to continue to increase in the near future, with 69 percent of L&D departments planning to spend on technology.

This growing prevalence of technologically assisted teaching is at odds with employee preferences though. A 2018 study showed that over half of employees most prefer to learn via face-to-face instruction, either as part of a group or one-on-one. This compares to under a quarter of employees who prefer online training methods. Interestingly, employees under 40 years old are less likely to prefer online training than their older colleagues, with the portion preferring face-to-fact training rising to almost two-thirds for this age group. Accordingly, the tension between industry trends and employee preferences can be expected to remain an ongoing consideration for L&D departments.

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