ASTD Report Says Businesses Invested $130 B in Training

The American Society for Training & Development's 2009 State of the Industry Report shows that U.S. organizations spent $134.07 billion for training, or an average of $1,068 per employee, in 2008.

Despite the worst economic conditions in several decades, business leaders continued to allocate substantial resources to the learning functions in their organizations. While spending was reduced slightly in 2008 – the average expenditure per employee of $1,068 was down 3.8 percent from the 2007 level of $1,110 – learning professionals took on more responsibility, increasing the number of employees to whom they were responsible and looking for ways to operate efficiently. Employees accessed an average of 36.3 hours of formal learning content, slightly down 2.9 percent from 2007's 37.4 hours, but still representing a meaningful amount of resources allocated to each employee for workplace learning and performance.

Data in the 2009 State of the Industry Report came from 301 organizations, including members of the ASTD Benchmarking Forum and ASTD BEST Award winners.

Key findings include:

  • $88.59 billion was spent on the internal learning function in U.S. organizations.
  • $45.48 billion was allocated to external services in U.S. organizations.
  • Percent of the learning budget allocated to external services was 22.0 percent, down from 25.2 percent in 2007, and continuing a downward trend that began in 2004
  • The average number of employees per learning staff member was 253 in 2008, up from 227 the previous year.
  • The average cost per learning hour used decreased 7.1 percent, from $56 in 2007 to $52 in 2008, which means learning professionals were operating efficiently and managing learning content without incurring additional overhead.
The 2009 State of the Industry Report shows that despite tough economic times learning professionals adapted and continued to deliver, even increasing the number of formal learning opportunities despite having fewer resources. It also reveals a commitment on the part of business leaders who understand that an ongoing financial and operational commitment is required to leverage human capital to its fullest.