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Things Are Looking Up! Canadian Employers’ Investment in Employee Learning and Development Is on the Rise

Jan 15, 2016
Donna Burnett Vachon
Associate Director
Leadership and Organizational Development Research

Canadian organizations’ spending on learning and development has been on an upward trend since the end of 2010. In 2014–15 Canadian employers spent an average of $800 per employee on staff training, up from $705 in 2012–13 and $688 in 2010.

Learning remains a top priority within Canadian organizations. While half of the Canadian organizations surveyed for the Learning and Development Outlook identified learning as a top organizational priority,  63 per cent indicated that they had experienced business challenges in the last few years that directly impacted their learning and development strategies. The research shows, however, that those organizations that remain committed to building a strong learning culture see results.

Organizations with a strong learning culture (defined as an organizational commitment to ongoing learning) reported stronger organizational performance than their competitors, and also tended to have stronger leadership development practices. These organizations indicated better performance in the areas of employee performance, customer satisfaction, overall productivity, and leadership performance, compared with organizations with moderate to weak learning cultures.

Even with significant reductions to their learning and development budgets, organizations are finding ways to maintain and improve their employees’ knowledge base. The research shows that informal learning continues to gain popularity among Canadian organizations. This is being driven by employees who are initiating informal learning on their own to a greater extent than in previous years. Further, social networking is increasingly being recognized as a valuable and strategic e-learning activity. Indeed, the number of organizations that reported using these technologies as learning activities has increased by 15 per cent since 2012–13.

The recently released report Learning and Development Outlook—13th Edition: Learning as a Lever for Performance is based on the responses to a biennial survey of Canadian organizations. A total of 152 organizations participated in this survey between November 2014 and January 2015.

Join Donna Burnett Vachon, Associate Director of the Leadership and Human Resources Research division of The Conference Board of Canada, and report author Colin Hall on January 20 for a live, 60 minute webinar. This interactive session will provide an overview of key survey results contained in the report and explore the state of L&D in Canadian organizations today.

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