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Training Investment


Whilst presenting my aspirational list for training my companies staff in the coming year, 2006, to the board, the COO posed the question - how many days would an average company, committed to training and development, invest, per staff member per year?
As much as I'd like to come back to him with "at least a month a year" i think a more realistic answer would be better. What are your thoughts?
Simon Foster

7 Responses

  1. Piece of string – how long?
    I’d like to give you a neat figure but honestly it just depends.

    A highly technical IT employee might have 20 or even 30 days a year as part of keeping their skills current and then further training to improve other aspects.

    I can’t imagine that dustbin men get much more than a couple of days a year on average because their jobs don’t change all that often (though I’d like to be pleasantly surprised and find they get 20 or 30 days too).

    The question that you really need to answer is not the one that your COO asked but this –
    how many days training do we need to invest in each individual to meet our business goals?

    And the answer to that should come out of a good TNA that has been negotiated at a strategic level and then it’s a no-brainer!

  2. Average – forget that!
    Don’t ask about what average companies do – ask about what GREAT companies do!

    The best amount of effort to put in to training activity is ALWAYS…
    …just enough!!

    Train because you must in order to develop a capability called for by the organisation’s strategy. Train because you must in order to help eliminate some kind of performance ‘pain’ being experienced by the organisation.

    Do less than this and you aren’t addressing the pressing needs of the organisation.

    Do more than this and you are wasting resource.

    Your organisation is unique in some way. It will have a unique set of requirements for training. Treat any benchmarking with some caution.

    Good luck,


  3. My ten pence worth…
    I agree with both the other commentators here that it depends on the job role, the strategic objectives and whether you have an IIP accreditation to maintain…

    Accountants have to spend about 4-5 days a year on CPD, but reading journals, websites etc increases their total exposure. In the same way an employee in a corporate environment not only learns from attneding training courses but also from reading newsletters, from informal discussions with colleagues, from coaching and appraisal sessions with their manager(s). Any opportunity you can engineer into their working week to reflect on and analyse their performance can help them around the Learning Cycle.

    I’d like to agree with you that a month a year is a fantastic target for a company to set, but I suspect it’d be easier to sell if (say) half of that consisted of some of these other channels of learning.


  4. All that – and more

    In addition to agreeing with the previous answers I like to add:

    Training Needs Analysis

    All too often TNA is used reactively – Bill isn’t doing as well as he should, what about some training?

    A proactive approach is far more to the point – what are the objectives for Bill over the next 3, 6, 9, 12 months? What skills will he NEED to fulfil those objectives? What degree of match is there between what he has and what he needs? What training, if any, will he need to be adequately skilled.

    The “rolling TNA” should take place at least once or twice a year, depending on the rate at which the business requirements are changing.

    It should involve both managers AND employees – haviing the additional benefit of ensuring that managers are required to stay abreast of what is really happening rather than just what they think or hope is happening.

    Above all, there must be a genuine commitment, from as high up the management chain as possible, to actually provide training when it is needed (but never just to make up the figures or because someone thinks they’d like to go on a course).
    If training is NOT provided when a TNA indicates that it is needed it sends all kinds of negative messages – “they” don’t really care, “they” are cheap, the company must be in trouble if it can’t afford proper training, and so on.
    On the other hand, if you send people on courses without there being a genuine need you run the risk of trivialising the whole thing and training may be seen as no more than an excuse to get a few days off work.

    So, base the strategy on a clearly defined process, based around regular TNA’s (plus one for each new member of the company when they join), championed by a very senior member of management (preferably a director)


    if you’re going to carry the whole thing through with conviction based on the realisation that appropriate training results in a genuine ROI.

    I hope this indicates why setting “days training per month or per year” is not the way to go.

    Best wishes


  5. Thanks
    To everyone who took the time to pen very thoughtful replies, my sincere thanks. Your feedback has helped me to press the board with regards to my TNA and I have gained a commitment to support my training plan based on the TNA that I have completed across the company rather than just a certain number of days for each individual – many thanks once again.


  6. Training investment benchmarks
    As well as looking at number of training days, percentage of revenue and spend per employee can be useful comparators – particularly when it comes to getting budget approval. The CIPD 2004 survey reported that average public sector T&D spend per employee is £400, average private sector T&D spend per employee is £800.

    As for percentage of revenue – shoot for the moon and go for 3%, and let me know your CFO’s reaction!

  7. What?
    I am genuinely interested in how “percentage of revenue and spend per employee” can be useful comparators.

    Example: an organisation of 600 employees has revenue of £100 Million. 3% of this is £3 million. On a per-head basis that’s £5K EACH!!. Another organisation, of 60 people and revenu of £3 million, spends 1% of revenue on training or £30K total, or £500 each. The first company has factored in the opportunity costs of labour, but actually spends only £1 million cash. The second organisation just accounts for cash spend. Who has the ‘better’ training strategy and plan? How can you tell? What is meant by ‘better’, and for whom?

    It’s possible to spend nealry nothing in cash terms and do some very effective training & development. Does this mean that, because your training spend is a bout 0.01% of revenue that you are a ‘bad’ organisation for not ‘investing’ in training?

    Just think carefully about what the purpose of your measures are, and who are the stakeholders in all this and what THEIR choice of measures might be!




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