Spending on learning and development in Canada fell 13 per cent since 2008, and is down 40 per cent since its peak in the early 1990s, according to The Conference Board of Canada’s Learning and Development Outlook 2011: Are Organizations Ready for Learning 2.0. This is the 11th edition of the Learning and Development Outlook, which summarizes the results of a biennial survey. Conducted between November 2010 and February 2011, the survey garnered responses from 183 Canadian organizations.
“Although the economic downturn may have contributed to lower learning and development budgets in 2010, the decline in spending is indicative of an ongoing pattern,” said Carrie Lavis, Senior Research Associate. “Canadian organizations place less importance on workforce skill development than other nations. This may contribute to Canada’s poor record on innovation and competitiveness.”
During the recession, L&D spending in the U.S. declined more than in Canada, which did little more than narrow the gap between Canadian organizations and their American counterparts. From 2006 to 2010, Canadian organizations spent an average of 64 cents for every dollar spent by American organizations. In 2010, Canadian organizations spent on average just under $690 per employee on L&D.
Expenditures are just one indicator of the priority placed on L&D in organizations. Given the changing learning needs of employees, organizations should look to prioritize learning even during tough economic times.
“A strong learning culture is one way for organizations to ensure that they have employees with the necessary skills to remain competitive in a global knowledge-based economy,” said Lavis.