Good article, Andy. I agree with most of what you've said expecially the fact that employers could, generally speaking, do a lot more to keep their employees up-to-date. The reason that most don't, I think, has less to do with immediate cost in time and/or money but more on ROI (Return On Investment)
The last company I was with would send employees for training if management thought it benefited the department to have someone, or multiple someones, with that training under their belt. They were pretty liberal about it and would send as many people as money and time would allow without asking for a commitment from the employees (more on that in a moment). However, they stopped short of sending employees to professional conferences and the like, and even buying books not directly related to a current project, because they didn't see the ROI.
Other places I have been have gone the carrot-and-stick route of "Sure, we can send you to that class. All you need to do is sign this paper that says you will keep working here at your current job and salary for 18 months afterward. Oh, you want to go to two classes and a conference? Make that 48 months."
The third case is people like me currently: Contractors. My agency told me, flat out, on day 1: "If you are asked to do something you don't know how to do, research it but don't charge the customer hours"
In a perfect world employers and employees would have a great amount of respect and loyalty to each other and that would make the realm of professional development easier. Nowadays there is almost always someone with a better offer for an employee to go to and there is always another employee for a company to hire. It just doesn't make sense for companies to pay for professional development as much as they could. Need an Oracle expert? It may be cheaper and faster to hire one than train your SQL expert in Oracle as well.
Professional development is something I take personal responsibility for but I also have to eat and can't afford to pay for classes on my own and don't have the time after work to really focus on books or CBT's. I do most of my learning OJT-style and just don't let anyone know I didn't know how to do it yesterday.
"I may not always know what I'm talking about, and you may not either."