The State of L&D: Training Industry Insights
As the training industry evolves and grows in an ever-changing marketplace, Training Industry helps learning leaders evolve with insights, education, and best practices. Training Industry CEO Ken Taylor shares the state of the market and discusses how AI will help shape the future of L&D.
Ken Taylor offered many insights about the state of the training industry including these key insights:
- High-performing organizations invest more in leadership development than underperforming companies.
- Learning leaders are increasingly investing in learning technologies, such as AI systems, authoring tools, and coaching platforms. AI can speed up course development and improve learning experiences.
- While generative AI can speed up course development, it's recognized that human expertise is still essential to ensure accuracy and authenticity.
- Cohort-based learning platforms are being utilized to scale programs quickly and build a sense of community among learners. These platforms allow for more engagement and collaboration among learners during and after the learning process.
- Learning leaders are increasingly being integrated into organizational change initiatives and strategic decision-making. Their expertise is being sought to facilitate organizational shifts and drive positive impacts.
Related resources from Training Industry:
Powered by Learning earned an Award of Distinction in the Podcast/Audio category from The Communicator Awards and a Silver Davey Award for Educational Podcast. The podcast is also named to Feedspot's Top 40 L&D podcasts and Training Industry’s Ultimate L&D Podcast Guide.
Susan Cort: [00:00:00] What's the state of the training industry and where are learning leaders investing their time and resources?
Ken Taylor: We actually took a look at high performing organizations versus sort of regular organizations and then underperforming organizations and it was really interesting for us to see that generally speaking, high performing organizations invest more in leadership development than those companies that underperform department. There is a relationship there.
Susan Cort: That's just one of the industry insights shared by Ken Taylor, CEO of Training Industry. Ken explains why corporate training budgets are up, where learning leaders are looking to invest, and how AI is impacting us All next on Powered By Learning.
Announcer: Powered by Learning is brought to you by d'Vinci Interactive. d'Vinci's approach to learning is grounded in 30 years of innovation and expertise. We use proven strategies and leading technology to develop solutions that empower learners to improve quality [00:01:00] and boost performance. Learn more at dvinci. com.
Susan Cort: With me today is d'Vinci CEO, Luke Kempski and the CEO of Training Industry, Ken Taylor. Ken, thanks for joining us. It's great to talk with you again.
Luke Kempski: Great to see you, Ken.
Ken Taylor: Thanks a lot for having me on.
Susan Cort: Well, Ken, for listeners who aren't familiar with training industry, share a little bit about your organization.
Ken Taylor: Sure. Well, training industry is a website and a series of information pieces that are made available to both buyers and suppliers of corporate learning and development. So we really focus on corporate training as opposed to training in a larger context. Resources are primarily free, a place where you can go to learn how to do things or how to solve problems you might have with your corporate learning team.
Susan Cort: We enjoy the resource. So thank you for all you and your organization do. And it was a fantastic TICE this year. I mean, I think there were like close to 600 people attending.
Ken Taylor: Yeah, it was a great show. Great mix of people, lots of, a lot of industry coverage. It was really fun to see the groups be able to gather and talk about problems in their industry also.
Ken Taylor: So it was, it was nice. Good, [00:02:00] good, good event.
Susan Cort: No, I agree. I think this was my seventh or eighth time attending it. And honestly, one of the highlights for me every year is to hear that state of the industry presentation. It's, it's just really great to hear about the challenges and successes that people are facing in the industry.
Susan Cort: Talk a little bit about how you put that report together each year.
Ken Taylor: Yeah. So one of the things that we have the luxury of is as part of the services we provide to these heads of learning and development is we rank training companies. Um, so we collect about. Uh, seven or 800 companies worth of information and they tell us what new innovation they're, they're bringing out in the marketplace, where they generate their revenue from selling what products and services, how much they're growing, um, and we use that along with our extensive buy side research to determine a market size.
Ken Taylor: And we've been doing that. Now for pretty close to 20 years, and it's the combination of data we collect from buyers and the supply side data that we, we get, and we bring those two together to do a prediction of the market. And then we adjust that after the year end to see, you know, what, where, where the numbers actually [00:03:00] land.
Susan Cort: And we're going to break this all down today. So people have a good understanding of where we are in the industry, just from where you're sitting. How is the training industry looking now that we're more than halfway through 2023?
Ken Taylor: It's been a good year. I think at the start of the year, and for the update, we suggested that the total market was still going to grow about a percent in total, actually that the services, products and services purchased side of the market was actually growing quicker than sort of the internal L& D department expenses.
Ken Taylor: They've tried to hold those. Steady, because they're really investing in a couple of key areas. Compliance, obviously, because that's always a necessary evil when it comes to corporate training. A heavy focus on leadership development and growing the capability set for the leaders that they have inside their organization, because they know the impact great leaders can have on retaining employees.
Ken Taylor: And we're all fighting for labor right now. So it's, uh, that's been a really high focus. And then the other area that's been growing ahead of sort of the overall market is learning technologies. And we always ask, uh, uh, A funny question is if you found a few dollars left in your [00:04:00] budget, where would you spend it? And the number one thing that comes back is is learning tech.
Luke Kempski: And what would you say Ken is driving that desire to invest more in both technology and leadership development? What's what's motivating and inspiring those organizations to invest more?
Ken Taylor: I think it starts with the importance of leaders to driving sort of a total overall organizational performance.
Ken Taylor: We actually took a look at high performing organizations versus sort of regular organizations and then underperforming organizations. And it was really interesting for us to see that generally speaking, high performing organizations. Invest more in leadership development than those companies that underperform the market.
Ken Taylor: There is a relationship there between the quality of your leadership team and the impact your company can make. Uh, the tech investment for us is an interesting one. What we've seen is the tech, the investment in tech is tending to be around the periphery of the tech stack. If you, if you think holistically about what's in a technical stack, a technology stack for, um, for, for a learning department, you have your core is your LMS, but what we're really seeing is, is that make [00:05:00] investments around in authoring tools, in AI systems that help them build programs, in coaching platforms, like some of the things that go around the edge of learning and development.
Luke Kempski: Yeah, definitely. Uh, I know at the TICE conference and the articles that are being published on your website and other learning sites, the interest and energy around AI. Particularly generative AI on developing learning. How would you recommend at this point that leaders of learning inside organizations respond to this sensational increase in interest around the new technology that's really upon us pretty quickly when it comes to how it's applying to learning .
Ken Taylor: It's a great question. I mean, the use of AI and L& D is a bit, uh, first of all, it's scary to learning leaders. They're concerned that it's going to make their role obsolete because you can use generative AI to develop a course. Well, the problem using generative AI to develop a course is you still have to find a subject matter expert to make sure that the answer is correct, right?
Ken Taylor: So there's still going to be that human interaction with the output from, from the [00:06:00] system to make sure it's authentic, true, you know, support, but it certainly does speed up your ability to develop coursework. It gives you the kinds of topics you should probably cover when teaching a certain subject. So I think, I think it is very helpful in that way.
Ken Taylor: The exciting part for me of AI in learning and development is around the area of coaching. One of the big things large organizations struggle with is was the program consistently rolled out for all the people that it was rolled out to, right? So is it the same in all the geos that we we rolled out to?
Ken Taylor: Is it the same across all departments? Well, if you can use AI to develop a coaching algorithm that will basically make sure that everybody understands it the same way and can interact with the coach on their time to practice the skills that they've learned. I see, I think that's a really exciting opportunity for learning because that can ensure that you have consistent application of new skills across departments and across regions.
Luke Kempski: Yeah, that's really, that's definitely a good use case. I think, too, that in terms of there's always seems to be more demand for learning [00:07:00] content than is possible for a learning department or even with partners to produce. So there's always more demand than able to be produced. So I think an opportunity to be able to produce more high quality content in an engaging way to meet more of the demand and hopefully impact organizational performance at a higher level.
Ken Taylor: Yeah, you're right on. Budget's always a constraint, right? There's, there's always more demand than, than the organization can support. So to the extent that you can get more courseware developed quicker using these technologies, I think, uh, it will certainly allow the training team to make a bigger impact.
Ken Taylor: And that's really what we're talking about here.
Susan Cort: There was so much conversation about AI at the training industry conference and expo and so much energy around it. And I think what was so exciting, Ken, was that everybody was learning from each other at the conference, just like we're learning from reading the articles on your website and other industry sites. And I think the more we talk about it, the more we learn from each other, the more we can really start to find those use cases and find those efficiencies to make us do our jobs better. [00:08:00] And like you said, not removing the humans, just finding better purposes for the humans in the process.
Ken Taylor: Yeah, exactly. That was, that's the exciting, that's sort of the training industry philosophy, right? The reason we built this company is we always thought that a collection of voices were better than a single voice. So we, we purposely tried to not be the single voice of learning and development. We, we always want it to be a community of voices.
Ken Taylor: And that's the exciting thing about a TICE is there was probably 10 different presentations on application of AI. Um, so you could hear different perspectives or different use cases. So that's all, that's, what's always fun.
Luke Kempski: When you think about, uh, how the balance between kind of technology driven learning experiences, and then. People driven learning experiences. How do you see that evolving and the importance of having both?
Ken Taylor: Interesting factoid also that came out of the information we shared at TICE, um, was that the sort of the second most likely place that they'll reinvest is to do more instructor led training. So there's still, there's still a need for that.
Ken Taylor: Um, now it can be virtually, it's virtual instructor led or remote instructor led, but the, the concept of [00:09:00] having somebody there to teach a course is still highly coveted by everybody the practice. Um, and I think, I think that's one of those ones where again, when you're supply constrained, anything you can do to save more money so that you can do more instructor led training seems to be something that a lot of organizations are really interested in.
Luke Kempski: What are the thought about cohort based, you know, where you have a combination of technology, but then you also have a cohort that's together. I mean, I know your CPTM program is very much cohort based. You could even say TICE is somewhat, uh, you know, in terms of there's been a community that's built. How do you see that evolving? And do you see that playing an increasing role over time?
Ken Taylor: Yeah, I think that the two things that the, the cohort learning platforms allow you to do is, is it allows you to scale a program really quickly. Um, so you can get a program rolled out faster, but to your point, it's the cohort nature, you create community.
Ken Taylor: So as they go through the class together, if you just take a class, one, like just a one shot class, the community doesn't stay on, but if you, by using these technologies, you [00:10:00] create sort of small groups of people that can chat with each other after, or if they run into a problem applying what they've learned, they can talk to somebody else.
Ken Taylor: It really does create sort of a community experience, and I think that's the advantage of the technology, and I think that's more and more being adopted in more and more places. The CPTM program, we designed it to be like that kind of before the technology was ready to, ready to handle it. We sort of kludged a technology term, uh, the technologies around it to make that experience happen.
Ken Taylor: But now it's much, much easier to actually create journeys where you can put different modes together and create an experience. It's time.
Luke Kempski: In your research, as things have evolved, I know there was a lot of interest in past years about data and analytics. Has that interest fallen off or is it still, still staying there?
Ken Taylor: I mean, measuring the impact of our programs, always the most important problem that heads of L& D are trying to solve. Um, and I think sometimes we make that journey more complicated necessarily than it has to be, because I think it recognizes that the most expensive part of the [00:11:00] training program is the people's time.
Ken Taylor: Guard that very carefully, so you use it very wisely, then the return of your program is going to be almost exponential if it's designed correctly. All of these platforms are providing even more data to the heads of L& D to do even better analysis of the impact of their program. And again, When you start to think of the concept of an AI coach and the data that that's going to collect at the end, you can really start to see, I had two people that were at this stage, you know, at an early stage or a, or a low performance level, and then I've allowed them to practice, but I can now show you that they perform well, that's going to really help the function again, uh, demonstrate the impact and value it's creating.
Luke Kempski: Uh, also wanted to take a look at the role of the learning leader and also the, you know, the learning department inside organizations. What trends are you seeing there? And, uh, how, how would you expect to see that evolve in the next months and years?
Ken Taylor: Yeah, I think they're, I think they're being brought into more and more change initiatives.
Ken Taylor: I think it's now becoming, I think it was like sort of an afterthought. It's like, oh, we're going to do this major change. Oh, [00:12:00] let's go get somebody in learning and development to kind of. Tell them what we just did and build a program to fix it. Right. So I do think it's now being thought of as part of the journey.
Ken Taylor: So, okay. So we're going to make a change from operating in this fashion to operating in that in a new fashion. What are the steps that we need to do to move the employees, uh, from how they're currently operating to the way we want them to operate? So I think, I think the function has become more important.
Ken Taylor: I think through the DE& I explosion, again, they look to training and development because it was a major change initiative and how they could help make that transformation. So I think it's an exciting time for the function. I think there's a lot of pressure on the function. They're getting asked to do a lot more things.
Ken Taylor: And in the context of a corporation, when you're getting asked to do a lot more things that usually allows you to ask for a little bit more budget, but they don't generally flow perfectly together.
Susan Cort: It does seem like over the years though, that I've been observing that people in the L& D industry have more of a seat at the table, have more of a voice with the C suite.
Susan Cort: Are you seeing that too, Ken, in the industry and how else have you seen the training industry kind of change over the years?
Ken Taylor: [00:13:00] Yeah, so I am seeing more of a voice and I am seeing the strength of the function improved such that they don't always say, yeah, we can train that, you know, train the employee to do it differently.
Ken Taylor: More holistically looking at the problem and making recommendations that sometimes don't include training. And I think that's the kind of credibility that you get, that a function gets when it's able to say, no, that's really not us. We're not, we're not going to help you make that shift. We've got to do it a different way, or we don't have that capability in house.
Ken Taylor: We've got to go to market to find someone to help us do that. I think they're starting to think more holistically about the impact that they want to create and who's best to do it. I think that those kinds of business acumen. Type of skills, um, are really helping people who are running these organizations now because the, the conversation is more credible.
Ken Taylor: It's not just, Hey, I need a program on, uh, marketing skills for my marketing team. And, and you say, yeah, great. I'll go get you one. It's like, well, no. Where, what, where do you, where are your, where are your people now and where do you want them to be? And now let's talk about what those skills are. And then, then I can go and help you either design a program or [00:14:00] source fund to make that journey happen.
Susan Cort: It seems as the industry has changed, of course, training industry, your organization has had to be really agile as well. You know, how is it the same and how has it changed over the years?
Ken Taylor: I think there are parts of it that have stayed pretty similar. Like I think the compliance domain, Uh, generally speaking, it's, it's not had a tremendous amount of innovation.
Ken Taylor: I think that's why, uh, L& D historically is a, had a bit of a bad rap because your first exposure is always some page turner, uh, compliance activity or, or somebody trying to, uh, to catch you making a mistake by clicking on a link and something. Um, so, so that's, that's the origin. You know, that's the first touch a lot of people have.
Ken Taylor: You know, that onboarding program that feels a little bit of compliancy. Um, I really do think the function is now bringing sort of a full, a full resource kit to the table to help affect change. And I think that's been the big change. That's been my observation over the years that I've been watching the industry is that it's gone very much from, I'm going to teach [00:15:00] you this skill to know I'm going to help the organization make this shift.
Susan Cort: And retain its employees along the way.
Ken Taylor: Exactly.
Luke Kempski: How about the backgrounds of the people involved in learning and development? Are you seeing any shifts in that in terms of, are they trained in training, if you will, or are they coming from other areas and then trying to figure out or some combination of both?
Ken Taylor: Yeah, it's, it's still a funny, it's still a funny odd group of folks, right? I mean, it's, uh, you have people that were really good at doing something are now. Teaching it, and they start teaching it, then they say, oh, this is an interesting function, then they end up running it. Um, so there's that sort of career path that we see a lot of.
Ken Taylor: It's still a reasonably transient group, like, uh, to give you a sense, Training Industry's audience turns over by about 25% per year, and there's a big group that stays for a long time, but, but we're getting new people every, like, thousands of new people registering with Training Industry every month, and our distribution list or our membership doesn't really change much, but it's constantly turning over. And why that's [00:16:00] interesting to me is it means there's still a lot of people that need informing, need all of the experiences that we've seen happen over the last however many years that we've been doing a training industry.
Ken Taylor: They, they still are all brand new for them. It's like the, the first time somebody says needs analysis, like we've been saying needs analysis forever, but somebody just gets, becomes the training manager and goes like, how do I decide whether or not they need it? Well, you do a needs analysis. Okay, well, great.
Ken Taylor: You know, how do I do that? Well, I don't know how to do that. I'll go check it out. There's something on Training Industry on how to do needs analysis. It's constantly reusing the same techniques and approaches that, that we've been teaching for a long time.
Luke Kempski: That's also very reflective in our clients, uh, in terms of that, you know, there are all kinds in terms of coming in with.
Luke Kempski: Instructional design expertise and speaking the language versus kind of having instincts around it, but not necessarily knowing all the language.
Ken Taylor: Yeah.
Luke Kempski: Definitely keeps it interesting. So, uh, what kind of things are you working on these days and, uh, kind of what's next for the Training Industry?
Ken Taylor: So we're getting close to the time of year where we're going to publish sort of our trend for this year and next year. [00:17:00] So we're, uh, the editorial and research team are all huddled together. Uh, this is the time of year we start to go through, um, sort of website metrics, what are people consuming, what are they interested in.
Ken Taylor: So, uh, we're gonna, we're working on that conversation. We're actually just wrapping up our, our call for, uh, proposals for the magazine for next year. So we've got hundreds and hundreds of submissions for that. So we're pretty excited by, uh, by the, the, the nature of some of the content we'll have for next year, um, both on the website as, as well as in the magazine.
Ken Taylor: So that's the, that's the time of year we're in. It's sort of the getting ready for the fall rush.
Susan Cort: We're excited to continue to partner with Training Industry. We appreciate the resource that you provide to our team. And certainly we enjoy the camaraderie and the education we get in being with everyone who's connected to Training Industry.
Susan Cort: Thanks, Ken.
Ken Taylor: Yeah, really appreciate that.
Luke Kempski: Yeah, thanks so much for sharing your expertise with us and with our audience on Powered by Learning.
Susan Cort: We'll look forward to seeing you at the next TICE, if not before.
Ken Taylor: Thanks so much.
Susan Cort: Bye bye.[00:18:00]
Susan Cort: Luke, it's always good to chat with Ken and learn what the industry is doing.
Luke Kempski: Yes, Susan really enjoyed talking to Ken. He and his team at Training Industry have a really good pulse on L& D. It was good to hear that the industry is growing. And you know, it sounds like that growth is being driven by competition in the talent market, and using training as a way to grow leaders who really are key to... retaining employees. You know, we also talked about AI adoption in L& D and its potential to really help training departments and their partners produce more high quality learning experiences to meet that increasing demand of internal and external learners. You know, what else was good to hear? Learning leaders are becoming more of a partner in leading change initiatives and helping drive organizational success.
Luke Kempski: I know we're hearing that more from our clients, and that's a great sign. So lots of positive energy in our business right now. Let's keep the momentum going. [00:19:00]
Susan Cort: Absolutely. I couldn't agree more. Thanks, Luke. And special thanks to our guest, Ken Taylor, CEO of Training Industry. You can learn more at trainingindustry. com. And don't forget that you can subscribe to Powered by Learning wherever you listen to your podcasts.
By Luke Kempski, CEO
d'Vinci Interactive is an award-winning comprehensive learning solutions provider for corporate, government, medical, non-profit, and K-12 target markets.