After more than three years of decline in spending, corporate training budgets just jumped up 9.5% last year which is good news for corporate HR teams and business leaders in general. In addition, spending on "informal learning" or social learning doubled this year over last, further reinforcing the thesis that corporate L and D is undergoing a true renaissance and entering a new, culturally important era - the era of continuous learning environments (also known as "informal or social learning"). Why the huge increase in spending? Several important reasons - first, companies really are hiring again, and they're finding it harder than ever to source the right talent. SHRM's latest data on manufacturing hiring shows that employers are having the toughest time finding manufacturing workers in 4 years, and SHL's latest survey on employee assessment shows that 63% of employers expect a very tough time finding key skills in 2012, a 22% increase over last year. Secondly, training spend has already been cut to the bone. Cutting training spending is often an easy thing to do, but it usually turns out to be a dumb decision. Why? Because well-run training programs actually save money. Consider what happens when you do away with formal corporate training. People don't stop needing new skills, they just get them on-the-job (or not at all). This means every cut in training spend pushes more training workload onto the back of line managers - who have to pick up the slack. That's not to say that all training programs are great, but when they are they are some of the highest ROI investments a company can make. Third, the training department of today is truly different. Today there is a whole new breed of training strategy taking form - one which builds a "continuous learning environment" - formal, informal, on-the-job, mobile, and social learning all blended together. This is very positive news for the business environment in general and HR and L and D in particular. The training industry is back with a vengeance, and we will see some very exciting new solutions come to market in 2012!

Source: Josh Bersin of Bersin and Associates. Josh Bersin writes on the ever-changing landscape of business-driven learning, HR and talent management. His favorite topics include strategic talent management, creating high-impact learning organizations, and how organisations drive business change and competitive advantage through talent strategy and technology.