13 Learning and Development Statistics You Need to Know in 2021

When it comes to trends in learning, we here at Synapse have our fingers on the pulse. We digest dozens if not hundreds of sources on a regular basis to determine what strategies, resources, time, and budgets learning leaders are committing to the development and delivery of learning experiences for their learners. In doing so, we’ve come across 13 different learning and development statistics for 2021 that made us sit up and take notice.

For each statistic, we’ve provided the sources, along with some commentary, to help you better understand the context. Some of these are certainly predictable, but some of them are quite surprising. Let’s have a look.

1. $82.5 billion in training expenditures

This is the total amount spent on training in the U.S., according to Training magazine’s 2020 Training Industry report.

Editor Lorri Freifeld cites that this figure represents a decline of 0.5% from the previous year. This is impressive, given the immediate, negative effects of Covid last year. That training expenditures declined by less than 1% indicates that organizations, even in the face of economic uncertainty, still believe in funding training initiatives.

In fact, according to the report, average training expenditures for large companies (those with 10,000 or more employees) increased from $17.7 million in 2019 to $22 million in 2020, an increase of 24.3%. 

2. $1,111 per learner per year

Also from the same Training magazine report is this figure, $1,111, which represents the average dollar amount companies spent per learner in 2020. This represents a decline from $1,286 spent per learner in 2019.

These costs may not necessarily indicate fewer courses or a lower quality of training experience. Costs may be declining because of the harnessing of particular technologies or the streamlining of processes.

Improving the strategic influence of L&D in your organization goes a long way towards earning higher budgets and increased training expenditure. Learn how with this free ebook on forming Learning Advisory Committees:
Learning Advisory Committees: How to Make L&D a Strategic Pillar in Your Organization

3. 55.4 hours of training per employee per year

This is the average number of hours of training companies provide per employee per year.

This is perhaps one of the more alarming learning and development statistics because 55.4 hours per year works out to a little more than 1 hour of training per week per employee. This is hardly enough for the employee to receive training on everything they need to know for the company—HR, compliance—in addition to new skills or support needed to complete their job-related tasks.

Training magazine points out that these 55.4 hours are actually good news: in 2019, companies provided only 42.1 hours per year per employee.

learning and development statistics 2021

4. 49% of learners don’t have time to learn

Further to the discussion of employees receiving only about 1 hour of learning per week from their employer, LinkedIn Learning, in its 2020 Workplace Learning report, found that 49% of learners said that they don’t have time to learn at work anyway.

So while employees report that they don’t have time to learn at work, LinkedIn also found that 94% of learners see the career benefits of making the time to learn.

Microlearning allows employees to learn as and when they need to in bite-sized modules. Learn some key microlearning strategies here:
Free Guide – Unleash the Power of Microlearning: 4 Step Roadmap to Success

5. 15% of L&D pro’s believe a downturn will impact their programs

Despite economic uncertainty, only 15% of L&D professionals believe that a downturn in the economy will impact their learning programs, according to LinkedIn.

This points to the confidence that learning leaders and talent developers have in their programs, and perhaps the confidence they have in the senior management of their companies in continuing to support—and fund—learning initiatives.

6. 99% of L&D pro’s feel that skills gaps negatively impact their companies

LinkedIn also discovered that 99% of the L&D professionals they surveyed felt that if critical skills gaps aren’t closed in the coming years, then their organizations would be negatively impacted in a variety of ways.

The negative impacts include (in order of rank) future growth, customer experience and satisfaction, product/service quality and delivery, and the ability to innovate.

statistics on learning and development

7. 27% of L&D pro’s feel that their CEO’s aren’t championing learning

Executive buy-in and championship of L&D programs continues to be a challenge.

Sadly, also according to LinkedIn, only 27% of L&D pros report that their CEO’s are actively championing learning. This provides a tremendous opportunity for the rest to encourage the C-Suite to get more involved and communicate the benefits of active participation in the programs created by L&D.

8. 24% of L&D pro’s don’t measure learner engagement

We’ve long advocated for the measurement of learner engagement, but unfortunately, no one can agree on what to measure and how to measure it. This is perhaps one of the more challenging learning and development statistics we’ve uncovered.

Surprisingly, also according to Linkedin, 24% of L&D pro’s don’t measure learner engagement. An engaged learner can be measured in several ways, such as course completions, satisfaction surveys, minutes spent learning per month or per quarter, or repeat visits to learning portals or support materials. Each organization measures engagement differently and some have devised algorithms that measure several factors and weights them according to needs.

9. 56% of learners find out about learning programs via the corporate intranet

Marketing and discovery of L&D programs have long been a challenge for talent developers. About 56% of learners find out about learning programs within their organizations via the employee intranet, also from LinkedIn’s report.

Beyond the intranet, employees learn about programs via email campaigns (47%) and their managers (44%). Still, the way that employees learn about L&D programs is still rather fragmented.

L&D statistics you need to know

10. 61% of L&D pro’s cite a lack of time as an obstacle

Surprisingly, it’s not always the budget that holds L&D back from pursuing all its initiatives.

According to Udemy’s 2021 Workplace Learning Trends report, 61% of respondents cited the lack of time as an obstacle to fully realizing the potential of L&D programs, vs 42% who cited budget constraints.

Realizing L&D’s full potential is about more than just budget. Learn how to do more with less in this free ebook:
The Training Manager’s Guide to Team Productivity and Meeting Training Demand

11. 3,967% increase in courses on anxiety management

As the pandemic rages on and employees are shut in, working from home, there has been an explosion in the need for training to help employees cope with anxiety, stress, and resilience.

Udemy’s 2021 report cites a 3,967% increase in the consumption of courses related to anxiety management. Stress management courses witnessed a 1,015% increase from 2019 to 2020.

This is certainly one of the more eye popping learning and development statistics we’ve come across.

12. 55 hours are needed to develop the average instructor-led online learning module

One of the more challenging areas to predict in L&D is the time it takes to develop training.

While an L&D team with years of experience working together can easily estimate the time needed to develop a typical learning experience, that same L&D team can be challenged when there are suddenly new concepts to deliver, new subject matter experts, and new learning modalities that need to be implemented.

Consultants and researchers have made attempts over the years to tackle the answer to this question, and new research was recently published on the ATD.org website to address the issue.

Researcher Robyn Defelice determined that it takes an average of 55 hours to develop the average instructor-led online/virtual module of 25 minutes in length. The range is between 35 hours and 86 hours; variations are due to complexity, experience/seniority of the L&D professional, technologies utilized, and other factors.

For e-learning, the numbers vary widely. Passive “page-turner” e-learning modules lasting an average of 20 minutes require an average of 48 hours of time to develop. On the high end, full-engagement, immersive training modules lasting an average of 17 minutes require an average of 155 hours of time to develop.

155 hours to develop only 17 minutes seems rather…extreme.

13. $70,138 is the average salary for an instructional designer

Rounding out the learning and development statistics, we thought it might be interesting to know what the value of an instructional designer is these days.

Pulling data from Glassdoor, Payscale, Salary.com, and Ziprecruiter, we determined that the average salary is $70,138.

Salaries, of course, vary based on years of experience, region, and industry, but it’s always good to check in. Ziprecruiter reported the highest of the four sites, at $80,182.

Planning for 2021 has never been more relevant or more crucial to the success of L&D.
Download our Learning and Development 2021 Strategy Toolkit today!

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