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Survey finds training and development remains priority among design professionals

WAYLAND, MASS. — Design professionals continue to invest in training and development, despite being severely hit by the recession, and in many cases are increasing training budgets and supplementing training to prepare for the economic recovery.

The results of an informal survey by The Zweig Letter, ZweigWhite’s flagship publication, being published July 26, show that that nearly 58 percent of firms who responded have increased their training budgets in 2010. Furthermore, 43 percent of respondents said they are taking advantage of the economic slowdown to train staff and prepare for the bounce back.

"We are using the time we have to train, cross train in Microstation and Autocad, standardize, mentor skills in things from drafting to leadership," said Pamela Bain, president Bain Medina Bain, Inc. a consulting engineering and surveying firm in San Antonio. "We are also ‘finally’ utilizing every module of our financial system, and training all the staff on the use and beauty of the program."

As part of the survey, participants were also asked to describe how their training delivery methods changed as a result of the economy, as well as about their training and development priorities. Almost 54 percent of respondents said they are using more technology, such as webcasts, to conduct training. A 32 percent group reported that they are conducting training the way they have always done. A minority, 14 percent, said
they’re now doing training and development mostly in-house.

As for priorities, here’s how the top three stack up: project management training (38 percent), training on technologies such as Building Information Modeling (29 percent); and leadership and business management for future leaders (18 percent).

Lisa Behrendt, human resources business leader for training and development with SSOE Group, an architecture and engineering firm in Toledo, Ohio, said that technology has definitely gained a new focus with this recession.

"We have shifted more toward leveraging technology to deliver training," she said. "Recorded content, GoToMeeting for in-house sessions, webinars, Red Vector, and First Net Learning are all methods we are using. However, we still believe that certain sessions and activities warrant face-to-face development, so we prioritize where and when travel and outside vendor expertise is acceptable."

For more information, visit www.zweigwhite.com.