Weathering the Storm

Despite continued economic turmoil, total 2013 U.S. training expenditures—including payroll and spending on external products and services—remained relatively flat at $55.4 billion, according to Training magazine’s 2013 Industry Report..

Just over a year ago, my husband and I stood with our noses pressed to the kitchen window pane, transfixed by the white flashes and eerie green glow of transformers exploding in the night sky. Superstorm Sandy had slammed into Long Island, with howling winds and lashing rain that piled up in unrelenting walls of water, decimating everything in their paths. We personally were unbelievably lucky and did not suffer any damage, but surrounding communities were destroyed and still struggle to rebuild more than a year later.

Other natural disasters such as deadly wildfires, tornadoes, and floods likewise took their toll on the economy in 2013, while manmade disasters such as the government sequester (and later shutdown) deepened the financial hit. Despite this economic turmoil, total 2013 U.S. training expenditures—including payroll and spending on external products and services—remained relatively flat at $55.4 billion (down just slightly from $55.8 billion last year), according to Training magazine’s 2013 Industry Report.

A bright spot: Overall training payroll increased substantially, from $36.4 billion to $39.9 billion, and average training salaries increased 4 percent to $78,623, according to Training magazine’s 2013 Salary Survey.

On the down side, spending on outside products and services decreased significantly, from $7.4 billion to $5.7 billion. See p. 22 for more Industry Report data and p. 42 for the latest Salary Survey numbers.

We continue this issue’s research focus with our first-ever Training Top 125 Tuition Reimbursement study, which looks at 2013 winners’ employee participation rates, spending levels, courses covered, conditions, and payment practices, and analyzes some data by company size and industry. Check out “Top 125 In-Tuition” and see how your organization measures up.

Speaking of tuition reimbursement, the College for America (CfA) is a new work force driven, competency-based degree program launched by Southern New Hampshire University to help bridge employee skill gaps. The program is offered to students through their employer, and instead of accumulating credit hours and grades, it requires students to demonstrate evidence of mastery through a set of 120 competencies. Tuition is an all-inclusive $2,500 annually, and many of CfA’s employer partners provide tuition assistance. Find out more, plus read about other skill gap solutions, in the final article of our five-part Skills Gap series, “Solving Today's Skill Gaps.”

Our upcoming 2014 Training Conference & Expo (February 3 to 5 in San Diego, CA) is an excellent place to share skill gap challenges and collaborate with your peers on solutions. And you’ll get to walk on the wild side as Training magazine celebrates its 50th anniversary with a special reception at the newly opened Australian Outback Exhibit at the San Diego Zoo. Register today at

I wish you and yours a Happy, Healthy, and Successful New Year and hope to see you in sunny San Diego in February!

Lorri Freifeld is the editor/publisher of Training magazine. She writes on a number of topics, including talent management, training technology, and leadership development. She spearheads two awards programs: the Training Top 100 and Emerging Training Leaders.