This kind of scenario is not unique in history, though it is without doubt that this particular recession is longer lasting and potentially more damaging than just about any other in living memory since it threatens the whole World rather than one or several countries.
Historically we know that training and development of staff are often cut in such times since they may be regarded as less critical to the business.
An alternative view is that without ongoing training and development of staff there are a number of costs that the company may have to pay and ultimately these costs must be weighed against the cost of carrying out the T&D.
A few "hidden" costs:
The cost of losing or demoralising staff: Staff may be tempted to move on if they feel their careers are not being advanced. T&D is a key factor in showing staff they are valued! This is somewhat counterbalanced by the argument that staff will not give up a safe job for potential rewards elsewhere during hard times, however, good staff will ALWAYS be in demand and retirement of staff is also a factor when facing a long term recession.
The cost of diminishing quality: As staff training is ignored and experienced personnel move on, so there is a danger that quality standards in the company will be lowered. Lower quality directly relates to increased complaints and faulty products which take time and money to rectify. Loss of image is also extremely difficult to turnaround in the short to medium term. Customer confidence is very easily dented and slow to return in much the same way that a sports persons confidence is generally far easier to lower than to raise - one bad result even after a string of good results can have profound effects.