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NEWS: Training ‘in recession’ despite employee demand


Employer’s commitment to training is on the wane, despite employee enthusiasm for professional development according to new research.

HE@Work’s annual Employee Training Index reveals new evidence that employers are delivering less training with almost all forms of training posting a year-on-year decline. Only 48% of employers offer on the job training specific to job roles, revealing a dramatic 24% reduction since last year’s results.

Just under half (40%) of employees said they believed that employee training and development was important to their employer, a six per cent drop compared to last year’s results.

However, from the 4,500 private sector employees questioned, 92% reported that ongoing learning and development was important to them and more than 75% would like to have more opportunities to develop at work and believe they have yet to achieve their full potential in the workplace.

The findings, to be launched at the Work Based Learning Futures Conference at the University of Derby, have been welcomed by campaigners as proof that government needs to do more to help employee training in the recession.

Presenting the findings, Professor Simon Roodhouse, director at HE@Work said: “Our research shows that almost all forms of employer-offered training are in recession. But while cutting back on training may seem like an obvious solution during a period of financial unrest, it’s a short-sighted one. It’s crucial that businesses continue to invest in the skills and talent of their people, as it is their commitment and ability which will help businesses weather the storm.

“With companies so worried about short-term liquidity, even the best investments are now being put on hold, and that applies very much to people – and not just at the basic skills level. If we want to have capacity as we come out of recession we need that investment now.

“Therefore, companies need to be incentivised to continue to offer training at all levels – which will have benefits to the whole economy. More government money for part-time and work-related higher education should be made available so that people on reduced hours working can apply themselves to improving their skills.”

Andy Powell, chief executive of independent education foundation Edge, commented: “There are many paths to success for people of all ages. So, it is vital we ensure everyone has the opportunity to study at degree level, either at work or in a centre of vocational excellence endorsed by employers. This will result in more students studying to a higher level – and improve the nation’s skills.”

* The Employee Training Index was carried out by OnePoll in February 2009 sampling views about workplace learning and qualifications from individuals working in private companies with over 2,000 employees.

Read about the government's budget proposals for jobs and training here

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