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Tech & Sourcing @ Morgan Lewis


According to the recently released results of an annual survey, 94% of companies that outsource some or all of their learning functions are satisfied with their outsourcing providers—an increase from the 2014 annual survey and the highest such result since 2009.

For purposes of the survey, “learning outsourcing” included the use of third-party service providers that perform any of a company’s learning or training functions, including performance of training, design and development of custom training content, strategy development, training program oversight, and learning technology management.

The results of the survey also provide insight into other aspects and trends of learning outsourcing that help answer the following questions that many have about learning outsourcing:

  • Why should I outsource learning? The survey found that companies outsource these functions to gain access to expertise, to increase the amount of learning that internal resources can provide, and as an effective method to create or deliver training at a value. Companies often utilize learning outsourcing as a type of on-demand service to supplement internal resources, which allows the company to maintain the availability of certain outsourced functions for when the demand for such functions increases.
  • All or nothing? Not in this space. Partial learning outsourcing was found to be much more prevalent than outsourcing all of a company’s learning functions. While 53% of respondents reported that they outsource a portion of their learning functions (down from 59% in 2014), only 4% of those companies outsource all of their learning functions. This is consistent with the rationale for learning outsourcing described above, as the benefits of access, expertise, and flexible capacity can be achieved through partial outsourcing without relinquishing control of all learning functions.
  • How much of my budget should this encompass? While outsourcing costs can account for significant portions of a company’s training budget, those costs did not account for a primary training expense in a majority of the companies who outsourced learning functions. Approximately 75% of respondents reported spending 40% or less of their training budget on training outsourcing. In contrast, less than 10% reported spending 60% or more of their training budgets on training outsourcing.
  • No thanks, I’d prefer to keep my learning right here. Common responses for refraining from outsourcing learning functions included satisfaction with the current internal arrangement, insufficient training requirements to justify outsourcing, and cost concerns. Also, integral learning functions that would require transfer of high-level management or oversight authority are less likely to be outsourced.