Happy new year!
I hope you had a happy and peaceful festive season and are now ready to face the challenges - and grab the opportunities - that 2013 will undoubtedly bring.
Employment may be up (statistics from the Office for National Statistics released last month showed a fall in unemployment of 82,000 in the three months to October 2012) and the Recruitment and Employment Federation may be claiming that "employer confidence is genuinely bouncing back" but we're certainly not out of the woods yet, especially if the Chancellor's Autumn Statement is anything to go by. Commentators point to the growth in part-time jobs and the number of people under-employed, as well as the continuing stagnation of pay and a drop in the level of national productivity, and question just how well the country is recovering.
Asterity may still be writ large but there is some good news for our industry, in the form of research from the British Sociological Society, published last month, which shows that spending in real terms on training fell by only 5 per cent from 2007 to 2009, and has remained steady since then. In an article in December's Work, Employment and Society (a journal published by the BSA), the researchers say that UK employers had avoided slashing L&D budgets during the recession because they perceived it as vital to their operations. They have been turning to "more cost-effective" forms of training, such as e-learning, to minimise the recession's impact.
And that really sums up the challenges and the opportunities facing L&D professionals and their organisations at the moment: the managers who talked to the BSA researchers were all committed to continuing training/L&D programmes but were looking for cheaper ways of delivering high-quality learning. The challenge, of course, is to maintain the quality while reducing the cost; the challenge is to completely re-evaluate the L&D you are currently delivering, investigate new ways of doing it, learn new skills and open your mind to new possibilities.
Necessity is the mother of invention (or innovation), they say, and that is certainly true: you never know how inventive or innovative you can be until the situation really demands it. They also say that, sometimes, you've just got to grasp the nettle and take the plunge off the burning platform (although not necessarily with such mixed metaphors): personally, I can't think of a better New Year's resolution than to make it a priority in 2013 to become a better, more skilled, more creative L&D professional, having more of an impact on the business and making a vital contribution to the ability of your organisation to come out of recession with all guns blazing.
Change is all around us - indeed, this issue of TJ is devoted to that very subject - but it will only ever move forward; there'll be no going back to the good old days of unregulated budgets and no ROI. Are you prepared to move forward too?
Elizabeth Eyre, Editor
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