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UK tech firms spend less, deliver more on training

Survey shows technology firms spend 46% of the national average on learning and development per employee, but deliver an above-average number of hours’ training

Spending on learning in the UK has risen across all sectors – including technology, according to research from Bersin by Deloitte, Deloitte Consulting. And organisations continue to move towards forms of learning beyond classroom or instructor-led training, including those enabled by technology.

Many of the trends highlighted in the research hold true for the technology industry, but there are some differences.

One of the biggest differences is the amount of cash spent. Overall learning and development (L&D) spending by the technology industry increased by 11% in 2015, on a par with the increase seen nationally. The national average spend on L&D is £1,068 per employee, while tech companies spend an average of only £488 per learner – about 46% of the national average.

Assuming that training delivered in tech companies is as effective as training delivered nationally, how is it that tech companies can spend so much less? There are at least two key differences that underscore some of the identified advantages of operating in the technology sector.

Tech companies delivered an average of 20.4 hours of training per employee, or a full six hours more than the national average, the Deloitte research showed. The technology companies surveyed spend an average of 46% of the national average per employee, which means L&D in tech organisations can, on average, deliver more learning with fewer resources.

The tech companies surveyed also reported a 31% average increase in staffing year on year, compared with the national average of 11%. At first glance, this might suggest that L&D organisations in tech companies are not as lean as they appear on the surface. But digging into the data may assuage doubts.

Spending more

L&D payroll as a percentage of total spend for the tech industry is 65%, compared with 55% elsewhere. This means many tech companies are spending more of their overall budget on headcount than other industries are, which leaves less money for other L&D budget items.

It is therefore likely that L&D staff taken on by technology companies tend to be e-learning creators, programmers and user experience designers, rather than facilitators.

This brings us to the second shift taking place among L&D organisations in tech companies.

Across all sectors, Deloitte data indicates that UK L&D is moving away from traditional classroom or instructor-led training in favour of other methods, including online self-study, virtual classrooms and on-the-job activities. In fact, classroom or instructor-led training in the UK has dropped by 45% since 2009, with only 32% of training hours now in this format.

Tech companies appear to be following suit, but even more so, with only 24% of their learning hours in the instructor-led format. Many of these organisations now offer most of their training hours (42%) in an online self-study format – significantly higher than the 26% national average.

It appears tech companies typically run leaner and leverage technology, resulting in lower costs. Environments, infrastructure, employee preferences and the nature of the training also align well with the use of technology for learning and development.

Dani Johnson is vice-president, learning and development research, Bersin by Deloitte, Deloitte Consulting LLP.

For more information and trends on L&D in the UK, see Bersin by Deloitte’s WhatWorks® brief which summarises the findings, or access the entire report, UK Corporate Learning Factbook 2016: Benchmarks, Trends, and Analysis of the UK Training Market

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