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Talent Development Around the World: Trends and Challenges

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Shifts in market trends, advances in technology, a rise in globalization, and an increase in global trade uncertainty can have major influences on business operations. As various countries feel these effects differently, talent development practices are likely to fluctuate widely by region. To provide a picture of talent development around the world, ATD’s new research report, 2019 Global Trends in Talent Development, identifies similarities and differences in talent development practices across four regions of the world: Asia-Pacific; Europe, the Middle East, and Africa; Latin America; and North America.

The report shares data on topics such as top content areas and challenges, budgets and expenditures, learning hours, delivery methods, and more. Talent development professionals can use these findings to benchmark their practices against those in their region and—in the case of global organizations—better tailor their TD practices to suit the unique needs of the regions their organizations cover.

About the Research

In summer 2019, ATD surveyed 413 talent development professionals across the globe about key areas in talent development at their organizations. Respondents were grouped into four regions:

  • Asia-Pacific: East Asia, Southeast Asia, Australia, and Oceania
  • Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA): Europe (including Russia and Turkey), the Middle East, and Africa
  • Latin America: Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean
  • North America: Canada and the United States.

Nearly half of the respondents (45 percent) were from Asia-Pacific, and 20 percent were from EMEA. Another 20 percent of respondents were from North America, while 15 percent were from Latin America.

Key Findings

Respondents in every region said adapting to and keeping up with new technologies was a major challenge. While this was the top challenge for Asia-Pacific, EMEA, and Latin America, it ranked third in North America. The top challenge in North America was a lack of time, making North America the only region to cite this as a major challenge.

Respondents in EMEA and Latin America said a lack of financial resources was a major challenge while respondents in Asia-Pacific and North America reported that a lack of appropriate tools, technology, and other resources was a major challenge.


The average number of learning hours used did not differ much by region. Asia-Pacific used the most (34.9), while North America used the fewest (28.4). Latin America and EMEA, meanwhile, were somewhere in between (32.8 and 30.8 hours, respectively). These differences may relate more to organization size than region. Small organizations (fewer than 500 employees) used the most learning hours on average, and mid-sized organizations (between 500 and 9,999 employees) used the fewest. Organizations in Asia-Pacific were most likely to be small, while most of organizations in North America were mid-sized.

The report examined talent development budgets by region and by organization size, finding that most small organizations in Asia-Pacific, EMEA, and Latin America had talent development budgets under $50,000. Small organizations in North America, meanwhile, were significantly more likely to have TD budgets of $50,000 or more. Staff salaries (a component of TD budgets) likely explains this, considering research has shown that the average U.S. salary is more than 30 percent higher than the worldwide average.

Among medium-sized organizations, a majority in Asia-Pacific, EMEA, and North America had budgets of $100,000 or higher. Organizations in Latin America were more likely to have a budget under $100,000.

Due to a limited number of large organizations (those with 10,000 or more employees) in the sample, these could not be broken out by region. However, the report found that most large organizations (54 percent) had talent development budgets of $1,000,000 or more.



Based on insights from subject matter experts and key findings from 2019 Global Trends in Talent Development, this report offers recommendations to aid those developing and delivering training for one region and those who do so across multiple regions.

Use a needs assessment to identify learning needs. With a lack of financial resources cited as a major challenge for multiple regions—and a sharp rise in global trade uncertainty, which can be a driving factor for slow global growth—talent development professionals should determine which learning needs require the most focus in the event that financial resources become limited. “When a recession comes, the training budget is cut first,” says Koko Nakahara, CEO of Instructional Design. “Instead of choosing cheaper solutions or off-the-shelf solutions, TD professionals need to devote more of their time to identifying the specific needs of their learners. Think about the needs assessment first, not the courses.”

Have a clear understanding of core values and learning objectives. For those responsible for large geographic regions—including across countries—adapting learning across cultures can seem daunting. However, it’s made easier by focusing first on the organization’s core values and learning objectives.

“Ensure you have clear core organizational values across your whole organization,” says Lisa Gary, chief learning officer at Ingersoll Rand. “These core values allow your training design to perpetuate the organizational culture you are trying to build, regardless of any specific culture.”

Learn More

The report, sponsored by AllenComm, is available for purchase here. ATD members can download the whitepaper for free.

About the Author

Shauna Robinson is a former ATD research analyst. Her responsibilities included preparing surveys, analyzing data, and writing research reports.

1 Comment
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The lesson received is apt. For effective performance on the job, the Managers have a key role to play in coorperating with the Mandate Authority of their organisation for success n this should be intentional, seen to be so because other down line staff look up to them for good example to follow. This should be done in a selfless manner with no prior intent which will impact positively on the job, enjendering team work and success. As the trainers are trained, the trainers also need to update...
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