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Press Release

New ATD Research: Investment in Talent Development on the Rise

Published Thu Dec 13 2018


2018 State of the Industry report shows increase in employee learning investment for sixth straight year.

New ATD Research: Investment in Talent Development on the Rise-2018 SOIR Cover.jpg

Organizations continue to make healthy investments in employee learning, according to the just-released 2018 State of the Industry report from the Association for Talent Development (ATD). The study was sponsored by LinkedIn Learning and the American Management Association.


Organizations spent $1,296 per employee in 2017, up 1.7 percent from 2016, according to the research. This is the sixth consecutive year that per-employee spending on learning has increased.

Developing the knowledge, skills, and abilities of the workforce continues to be a priority for organizations. The use of technology to deliver training continues to increase; however, more than half of all learning is still delivered live, face-to-face in a traditional classroom.

ATD’s 2018 State of the Industry report is based on a survey of nearly 400 organizations of various sizes, industries, and locations. Key findings include the following:

  • Per-employee spending increased in 2017 to an average of $1,296 per employee (from $1,273 in 2016).

  • Employees averaged 34.1 hours of training in 2017, the same amount as in 2016.

  • 26 percent of direct learning expenditures went to outsourced or external activities.

  • 8 percent of direct learning expenditures went to tuition reimbursement.

  • The top four areas of training content in 2017 were managerial and supervisory (13 percent); mandatory and compliance (12 percent); processes, procedures, and business practices (11 percent); and interpersonal skills (10 percent).

  • Instructor-led, live face-to-face classroom was the delivery mechanism for 54 percent of learning hours used in 2017.

  • Technology-based learning accounted for 41 percent of learning hours used in 2017.

  • On-the-job learning was a key part of employees’ development experiences; learning that occurs during work was emphasized heavily in 59 percent of participating organizations.

The ATD 2018 State of the Industry report is a free benefit to ATD members and can be accessed on the ATD Publications app. The report is also available for purchase on the ATD Store. A free webcast about the report’s findings will be held on Tuesday, January 29, 2019.

About ATD


The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is the world’s largest professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees, improve performance, and help to achieve results for the organizations they serve. Originally established in 1943, the association was previously known as the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD).

ATD’s members come from more than 120 countries and work in public and private organizations in every industry sector. ATD supports talent development professionals who gather locally in volunteer-led U.S. chapters and international member networks, and with international strategic partners. For more information, visit www.td.org.

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