· 2 min read · Features

Who is to blame for dwindling learning and development budgets?


The CIPD has found in a recent survey that 43% of organisations have decreased funding for learning & development with a further 42% anticipating further reductions and only 10% looking to increase their budgets.

So who's to blame? The business heads that just don't get that people are the root of all value? The very same ones whose stupidity is reflected by their reduction in development funds?

I don't believe they are that stupid. Correction. I am sure that some of them are, however, if they are blind they need to be led out of the dark and into the light, which leads me to who is to blame. Anyone with a brain would look at these statistics and despair how can it be that organisations which have products that in the main are all the same, go to market strategies that are all the same and openly admit that their people make all the difference, are withdrawing investment from their differentiating asset. It'd be like Apple reducing their R&D budget by 42% or Land Rover Jaguar (which has posted record sales and put the responsibility for this firmly in their great product and reducing their new product budget by 42%).

The reason Jonathan Ive is so important at Apple is they understand their future is dependent on the coolest product and they understand that Jonathan and his team do it that bit better than anyone on the planet. He has all the resource, I am pretty sure no budget limitation…the organisation gets out of his way and he is presumably fantastic at influencing the business. In Apple, design is king. I would argue in any other organisation - and I am pretty sure in a lot of the 42% that have reduced their L&D budget - people are king.

This means HR should be where the king sits…unfortunately to be a great king, you have to be

a) brilliant at what you do

b) influential and

c) tangibly demonstrate your value.

And therein lies the problem. When was the last time a CEO said to you, by the way, the king in my organisation is HR? The truth is the blame for these organisations cutting their L&D budget falls squarely on the shoulders of the HR organisation.

Do you think Jonathan Ive would let his budget be cut in the face of a recession? Would he ever. He'd be influentially arguing that great product is the route to market share gain and he would point to evidence of this and then he'd execute. Let me be clear. There has never been a better time than now for HR to get more budget, resource and backing. In the face of the toughest recession in living memory, all funds and resources should be leading to people. People are king in your organisation, HR this is time for you to take your seat at the throne.

Roger Philby, CEO and Founder of The Chemistry Group