The blogosphere has been buzzing with a great deal of agonizing, soul-searching and prognosticating about what a recession means for the industry. As with recessions that have come before, there are concerns about huge cuts to training budgets, loss of training staff through down-sizing, and a general retrenchment in training operations.

Many point to eLearning as a possible saving grace among all the doom and gloom. They rightly note that eLearning provides many savings and efficiencies over traditional training methodologies in terms of reduced travel costs, reduced back-fill costs to cover for the physical absence of trainees, and increased reach by being able to train large numbers of people in a short time frame.

For many executives and senior managers, however, a more efficient and cost-effective training function may not be enough to save the training area from serious down-sizing in tough economic times. In good times, they may give the training operation the benefit of the doubt that training interventions are having positive impacts on the organization. Bad times require proof. If, as a training manager, all you can offer is savings over the way you did things before, senior management may decide that the greatest savings would be to cut your operation all together.

So, by all means, do all you can to streamline your training efforts. Use eLearning wisely to reach more and more learners for less and less money expended per learner over time. But you need to go beyond this to demonstrate training’s value to the organization. You need to address some pain the organization is experiencing and make a positive contribution to alleviating this through training.

Whether this pain is a need to increase sales, improve customer retention rates, or decrease defect rates, you need to position your eLearning efforts as part of the solution to this problem. You need to work with the relevant business unit to devise a training program that addresses the pain, and to collect metrics that demonstrate the intervention is working.

This is how you can move the training function from an expense line that is easy to cut, to a valued contributor to solutions. Of course, you should be doing this in good times as well as bad.

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