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The Way I See it: Train to Retain

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Smiling crowd Research from City & Guilds reveals that nearly a quarter of British businesses don’t have adequate structures in place to train and develop their employees. The Train to Retain report highlights growing competition from developing nations and recommends a simple way to maintain productivity: providing sufficient training and development opportunities for employees. Judith Norrington explains how training can help to retain staff, discourage them from seeking opportunities elsewhere and help the UK economy to keep its competitive edge.


The importance of staff training to the success of British businesses, in what is becoming an increasingly competitive global market, cannot be overestimated. Our research at City & Guilds indicates a direct link between the development of skills and increases in productivity.

For example, a study within the manufacturing industry indicated that by doubling the ratio of high skilled to low skilled staff within UK factories, one company was able to jump from the lowest quartile in productivity to the highest – an enormous leap that was achieved through a single investment1.

So how can learning and development (L&D) personnel ensure that they deliver sufficient staff development to motivate their employees and encourage financial growth? The results should speak for themselves, but it can sometimes be difficult to secure funds without proof or guarantee of the impact of training on the bottom line.

Start small
The best way to build respect for training and development is to start small and track the progress of employees and the business as investments filter through. By regularly assessing the training needs of employees, monitoring their development and calculating how small investments are profiting the company, L&D personnel should be able to drive home the benefits of staff training.

This is vital if UK businesses are to compete effectively in the future. Britain currently lags behind many of its key competitors on productivity and innovation, and as the workers in developed countries continue to increase, real, substantial training of our own staff is only going to become more important.

Turnover
Currently, HR personnel in the publishing and media, professional services and telecoms and IT industries all spend more on recruitment than on training their existing staff. And yet 25% of employees tell us that they have left, or would leave a job because of poor training or career prospects. Businesses are wasting a great deal of money and talent, repeatedly filling vacancies because they are not supporting the career goals of their existing employees.

Evidently this situation causes problems in the short term – but in the future it is likely to become untenable. Around 60,000 fewer people are entering the workforce every year, and Britain cannot continue to rely upon younger workers taking the place of their older counterparts as they leave to pursue other opportunities.

To survive within this changing global marketplace, businesses must ensure that employees at all levels possess the skills to perform their jobs to the best of their ability – and offer them the opportunity to progress so that they can fulfil their potential and advance within the company. Investing money in training assessment programmes and structured development schemes may cost a little today, but it will pay dividends tomorrow.

* Judith Norrington is Head of National Policy Development at City & Guilds

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