Finding it harder these days to get the funds you need to upgrade your team’s skills? Whether you need training on new tools or must upgrade skills on existing systems, you’re probably finding it increasingly difficult to get upper management to loosen the training purse strings—even when you’ve made the case that one of the best things companies can do in a slowdown is use training to increase staff productivity. If so, you’re not alone.

Recent research from IDC confirms what you no doubt know intuitively: Corporate IT training budgets were slashed in 2001 and will remain relatively skimpy in 2002.

In North America alone, IDC lowered its estimate on outsourced IT training spending from $12.9 billion to $11.8 billion for last year. And, this year, IT training budgets will drop from the previously estimated $14.8 billion to $12.9 billion. Although the research forecasts a rebound, with healthy growth through 2006, what’s a manager to do right now to meet IT education needs?

One option in the immediate future is to consider insourcing IT training. Done right, bringing the training function in-house can save your company the big bucks on travel and facilities.

Another option is e-learning, which remains strong despite the weak economy. In fact, IDC forecasts that the e-learning market will jump by nearly 44 percent in the coming year. Research indicates that e-learning is well-suited to techie subjects such as application training, programming, and system infrastructure training. And it has the benefits of eliminating travel costs and downsizing instructor fees. Sound good? Here’s a primer on cheap online training that does the job.

We’d like to know how you’re handling the current drought in training funds. Let us hear from you.

IT budget crunch

Are you facing an IT training budget crunch? If so, how are you coping? Send us an e-mail or post a comment below. We’ll follow up with an article on your best suggestions for coping with the IT training budget slump.