Do employee training and development programs make a difference when recruiting and hiring employees? Tamara Erickson, President of the Concours Institute, thinks so. She says in the December issue of T+D in an article titled The Future of Learning and Work:

Learning will be an absolutely critical element of organizations’ abilities to attract and retain top talent. First, the opportunity to learn is the number 1 factor that younger workers consider when selecting an employer. Companies that can offer a broad-based learning program have a serious recruiting edge over firms with less robust programs.

However, other evidence appears to challenge this belief. A March 2007 online survey of 3,152 full-time, employed adults conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Spherion and reported in Workspan Magazine, asked respondents to rate the importance of eight different “drivers of retention”. Whereas in a similar 1999 study, “training and development’ came out as one of the top drivers, the 2007 study had “financial compensation” and “benefits” on top and “training and development” last among the eight. Retention is not the same as recruitment and training and development was still considered important by nearly half of the survey respondents, so the survey doesn’t necessarily contradict Erickson’s comment. I believe that the opportunity to learn and advance is still a major motivator for “Millenials”and “GenXers”, but, given the economy and the shifting way that companies view their loyalty to employees, compensation and benefits, especially health care, may have become stronger motivators than the opportunity to learn.