Key Takeaways from ATD's 2014 State of the Industry Report

As we progress through an increasingly tech-based millennium, online learning is continuing to become a more prominent part of employee training and education. According to ATD’s 2014 State of the Industry Report, online training accounted for more than a third of the total employee learning hours documented in the last year.

ATD’s 2014 State of the Industry Report (SOIR), released last week, surveyed a diverse group of 340 organizations of various sizes, industries, and locations regarding their training and development expenditures. The report is used by many companies as a benchmarking document, to observe trends and determine how their organization compares. For off-the-shelf elearning providers such as ourselves, it is an interesting exploration of how technology is being used within training departments.

Efficiencies and Expenditures

Training employees is an investment. As companies strive to make their training programs as efficient and effective as possible, many are turning to online training to help cut costs and improve engagement. Online training reduces or eliminates the need for in-person instruction and distributes information in a more cost-effective way. ATD’s SOIR found organizations with less than 500 employees spend nearly $1,900 on average per employee with an average of 27 hours of training provided. This is compared to larger organizations (more than 500 employees), who spent less than $900 on 36 hours training on average per employee. Smaller to mid-size organizations could certainly benefit from streamlining their training delivery methods and investing in online learning to cut costs and increase training hours.

Content Distribution and Delivery Methods

In addition to spending, ATD’s SOIR also examined the type of training purchased and how it was delivered. Management and compliance training continue to lead the pack in terms of content popularity, as the two top training topics in 2013. With the rise in demand for management and supervisory training, this could support what many see as shift away from “training” and a move towards focusing on “development” of employees.

In terms of content delivery, instructor-led remains the preferred method, with 70% of formal training hours being delivered in this way. That said, the report also found an increase in online training usage. Last year, a quarter of training hours were completed online with many preferring to use a self-paced program. As technology improves and content choices becomes available, companies are more easily able to find online training that fits their needs, and their budget.

Growth of Technology in Training

Gamification and mobile learning continue to grow in popularity since they were introduced four years ago. Already 25% of organizations report using gamification methods—a growing trend for engaging learners. Though mobile learning has not taken off at the rate many have predicted, the delivery method is holding steady, and saw slight growth over 2012. Lastly, the report found organization size influences what delivery methods are available to employees, with companies employing 10,000+ offering more online learning opportunities than their smaller counterparts.

To Sum up the Trends:

The annual ATD State of the Industry Report displays the expansion of online training over the past four years. 2013 saw a stable growth of online training , and the growing global economy will likely call for even more. Incorporating online learning into your organization’s training repertoire could prove to be an invaluable step for reducing costs and increasing access to information for the benefit of employees and the organization as a whole.