Trends and Career Prospects for Learning Professionals

We all know the cliche that when companies cut back, training is the first thing to go. The tendency for organizations to downsize training is a reality that can negatively impact career prospects in the learning and development profession. Let’s face it, the economy is sluggish and while the economy is growing, it is growing at a much slower rate than most people would hope. This impacts overall job growth, affecting career prospects in the learning and development profession.  Career Prospects

It sounds bleak, but there is a bright side.

In a recent Bersin by Deloitte study, spending on learning and development rose by 12% in 2012. In another study, 90% of CEOs said they plan to maintain or increase training budgets in 2013. Bersin by Deloitte also found that high-impact organizations invest significantly more on training, just over $1,000 per employee and deliver more training hours per employee, at about 20 hours per employee per year versus 15.3 hours per employees for average organizations.

Spending on Training Increasing With Fewer Trainers

The good news for the learning and development job market is that companies seem to be increasing their spending on training. But before you celebrate, you must understand this next finding. These same high-impact organizations are able to achieve this higher investment and more hours of training with fewer trainers than most average companies — just 4.3 trainers per 1,000 employees compared to 5.2.

It is important to know that organizations are spending more on training, but less on trainers. They are doing this by using more technology and by outsourcing more training functions like instructional design, facilitation, and other administrative work.

Trend Towards Learning Service Providers

If organizations are spending more on training, but using fewer trainers to do it, they must be spending that money on learning service providers. People looking for career prospects ought to consider looking at companies that provide learning technologies and/or learning services to companies that have training needs. If you don’t know where to start, start by looking at the sponsorship list at the big training industry conferences. These companies provide valuable services and have a need for professionals who can help their customers succeed.

Instructional Design a Critical Skill

As is often the case, those who can produce something valuable have value in a market. This appears to be true in the learning and development profession. I just looked up the phrase “instructional designer” on Indeed.com and found over 1,000 job listings in the United States. If you can design and produce high quality learning experiences, you have pretty good career prospects, whether you work for a learning service provider or as an internal learning designer. To increase your job prospects in learning and development, develop your skills in instructional design (e-learning and blended learning, in particular).

Make the Stuff or Sell the Stuff

You have significantly higher career prospects if you can do one of two things for an organization: make the stuff or sell the stuff. Perhaps this is why we are seeing a trend towards companies turning to learning service providers for help with their training needs. Learning service providers “make” learning products and services and also “sell” learning products and services. Therefore, there are two things to consider if you want to improve your career prospects: consider looking at learning service providers and develop your instructional design skills.

Bill Cushard, authorblogger, and learning experience (LX) designer, is a human performance technologist (HPT) with extensive, in-the-trenches experience building learning organizations in start-up and hyper-growth organizations like E*TRADE, the Knowland Group, and Allonhill. You can follow him on Twitter or on Google+.