I'm totally committed to the idea of continuous learning, in any engineering field. In fact, I'd say that 30 hours per year is woefully inadequate, although "punishment enough" if it has to be structured. Perhaps 30 hours per month is more like it, unstructured?
Different people learn in different ways. Some must have the structured environment to motivate themselves, others less so. A lot probably also depends on the job. The less routine the job, the more learning has to be part of the process. So it becomes automatic and enjoyable. Internet discussion groups help too, forcing people to learn new things just to keep up.
My co-worker once said, "There's no excuse for that kind of ignorance in the Internet era." Couldn't agree more. There are loads of ways of learning new things now, which require only small investments in non-productive time.
Hi Adam: Thanks for the great list of resources, one may never leave their arm chair--though I hope that isn't the case. Thanks for the big shoutout on DESIGN West - our call for speaking proposals is open and the deadline is Oct 11, 2013. Details here.