Corporate belt tightening may have cut into training budgets in recent years, but the results of a recent survey suggests that trend may be short-lived. More than 70 percent of the 365 companies responding to the 2001 State of the Industry Report from the American Society for Training & Development (www.astd.org), expected their training expenditures to increase.

The typical company is training 78.6 percent of employees. Technical processes and procedures drew the lion's share of training funds (13 percent), followed by professional skills β€” jobs done by accountants, engineers, and others with higher-level college degrees (11 percent).

Electronic learning has leveled off in recent years at smaller companies, but larger organizations seem more willing to commit the funds to support this alternative, says Mark Van Buren, director of research for ASTD. Overall, he says e-learning β€œis going through a maturation phase. Many of the companies that got into it in the late 1990s, from what we can gather, are now reassessing it to see if they're doing it wisely and well.” Many employers are combining electronic and classroom learning, he notes.