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New research shows UK bosses have a lot to learn


New Industrial Society research out today, Thursday 23 September 1999, reveals that UK employers are
failing to encourage their employees to learn new skills. The lack of enthusiasm to learn comes from the top. Only 1 in 5 (18%) say their directors act as role models for lifelong learning and a mere 1 in 10 (12%)say their Non executive directors act as mentors.

A skilled workforce is essential to boost Britain’s flagging productivity, yet adequate steps are not being taken to ensure all staff are properly trained and equipped with the right skills. While 97% of employers offer some form of training courses, 43% of line managers are not being trained in staff development.

When asked whether or not managers have the skills to make decisions about their team’s development, 40% either couldn’t say or said no.

Dr John Knell leads the Industrial Society’s learning campaign, which aims to encourage learning at work. He comments:

‘This research must ring alarm bells with employers, economists and policy-makers. We all know that UK employers are struggling to bridge the productivity gap and that we will not make the leap without a highly skilled workforce. But our research indicates that employers are not merely unsure about how to create a skilled society – they are also failing to lead from the top. It is essential that business leaders take a look at their own development and set a precedent for the skilled society that we so badly need to build.’

The research report - Managing Training and Learning – reveals that many employers are unsure how to build effective training and learning programmes. 29% say that they did not know which learning activities were the most beneficial to them. Some of the most popular ways in which employers encourage their employees to learn, such as by using questionnaires and resource centres, were found to be less beneficial than their widespread use would suggest. Despite 46% of employers using questionnaires to assess the skills levels of employees only 11% found them to be effective.

The survey also reveals that new technology is being used to improve the way we learn at work. 57% of employers use intranets to encourage skills-sharing among employees - and 30% have found it to be the most beneficial way of sharing information.


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