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Learning Staffing 2010: Still Doing More With Less

During the economic downturn, companies trimmed spending by cutting back on existing learning staff and tightening budgets to squeeze more results from fewer development resources. While the &ldquo;do more with less&rdquo; operating philosophy looks set to continue in 2010, recently released survey data indicates the worst of the cuts is likely behind us.<br /><br />A majority of organizations expect L&D staffing levels to either remain stable or increase in 2010, according to a recently released report analyzing survey data from the Chief Learning Officer Business Intelligence Board (BIB).<br /><br />In October, the editors surveyed the BIB, a group of 1,179 professionals in the learning and development industry, to determine their plans and expectations for staffing in 2010. The analysis of the results was included in &ldquo;Focus on Staffing,&rdquo; a Chief Learning Officer report released on Monday.<br /><br />According to the data, learning departments went through a dramatic cutback in the number of learning and development employees charged with serving the enterprise in the past year. In 2008, the BIB reported that the ratio of learning professionals to employees was 1-to-197. In 2009, this ratio jumped to 1-to-260 learners, reiterating the point that learning departments are doing more with fewer people.<br /><br />The majority of survey respondents indicated that the bulk of staff cuts appear to have already taken place and that staffing prospects for the coming year are more positive. In 2010, 52 percent expect staffing levels to remain the same, and 31 percent indicated that they will increase their staffing levels in the coming year. Seventeen percent indicated that staffing is likely to slightly or significantly decrease.<br /><br />While the stabilization in learning staffing appears to be a silver lining, some dark clouds remain. A majority of survey respondents (54 percent) indicated they do not have enough staff to support their learning programs. According to BIB members, the staffing cuts of 2009 did indeed cut the fat, but they also sliced into the bone.<br /><br />Analysis of the types of learning positions for which organizations intend to hire in the coming year follows multiyear trends. Anticipated hiring of technology specialists, learning administrators and managers, and learning strategists appears to be holding steady, but survey respondents reported decreased demand for content developers and instructional designers: 44 percent indicated anticipated hiring for this group in 2007 compared to 25 percent in 2009. Hiring of instructors has likewise dropped; 27 percent of respondents anticipated hiring instructors in 2007, compared to 16 percent in 2009.