Insight: UK businesses failing to provide staff with the training they need

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Jon Kennard
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Latest research from Opinium on behalf of online training specialists Filtered has revealed that universities and schools are thought to be doing a better job of preparing UK employees for the world of work than businesses themselves. 

In a survey of over 2,000 adults in employment across the UK, only 25% of workers stated they have received training on the skills they need, despite 60% claiming that they needed key workplace skills in order to perform in their jobs successfully. By contrast, the survey revealed that most people (80%) felt confident in their preparedness for work following university, and 58% after leaving school.

Of most importance to UK workers were skills such as self-management (time management, planning, organisation and self-motivation); attention to detail; problem solving and creativity; and literacy. However, on average just 25% of those same people had ever received training from their employers in these areas and 41% not having received any form of training for work from their employers at all. In addition, 85% of people surveyed stated that there is no compulsory training offered by their place of work.

The survey findings released today also show a relationship between training provision and company size. Unsurprisingly, some of the biggest corporate culprits are small businesses (with a workforce of less than 50) where only 20% of the workforce is receiving the right training. This contrasts with findings for medium-sized firms (50–1,000 staff) in which twice as many (40%) of staff receive training. This difference may be explained by smaller and zero training budgets at small firms. However, Filtered’s research also found that workers in large enterprises (over 1,000 people) also fell short with only 20% of the workforce receiving training. It may be that some staff are getting ‘lost’ in larger firms, explaining this dip.

The survey goes on to probe the explanations for and solutions to this lack of training. The biggest reason given by learners for non-training is a lack of time, with two in five (40%) of respondents of stating they were discouraged from taking part in training due to time pressures at work. 31% cited the intrinsically related reason – cost – as a major inhibitor of training. These statistics echo results from the BCC’s recent report which found that the main barriers to training investment are cost (50%) and an ability to free up staff for training (31%). Yet the desire from workers to train is clear with over half of those surveyed (51%) saying they would be motivated to invest time in training to make their current role easier.

Marc Zao-Sanders, managing director and co-founder of Filtered commented, “Research shows that there is a clear link from workplace behaviour through to economic prosperity. Not training the workforce adequately or appropriately leads to skills gaps which reduce profitability of the businesses, which in turn stifles economic growth. Our research says that at the start of this causal chain, it’s a lack of worker time which is responsible for the lack of training. It’s therefore vital that businesses find time - and cost-effective ways of providing the right training for their staff. Technology and personalisation of learning materials are almost certainly going to be a big part of the solution to this important problem.”

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