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UK Management Skills Gap with Europe


Formal management qualifications in the UK do not necessarily result in effective management skills, according to a study into management training and development in Europe.

The six-country comparative study supported by the European Union, by authors at Brunel University and Birkbeck College also found that despite this shortcoming, human resources and development managers in the UK are increasingly demanding management qualifications when recruiting managers.

Dr Matias Ramirez of Brunel University, one of the co-authors of the study, said: “We looked at European economies with common challenges of developing knowledge and skills. In terms of common areas, most firms recognised the importance of training and developing managers. The key differences were in the approach to training.”

The study revealed that Germany and Norway rely principally on internal methods of training. In contrast, UK and Denmark combine internal and external methods such as educational qualifications. However, while Denmark consistently valued a range of methods highly, including vocational training, UK HRD managers said formal qualifications were not necessarily seen as a mechanism for effective managerial skills.

Ramirez added: “Unlike in Denmark, our research suggests that in the UK there is a mismatch between what is used and what is seen as most effective way of developing managers. It appears that in the UK formal, non-job related qualifications may be acting as a screening mechanism rather than an effective means of improving managerial skills. This highlights the need for greater coordination between employers, providers of managerial qualification and policy makers.”

The study also revealed:
· German firms give the highest priority to management development.
· UK firms rely to a far greater degree than other countries on outside educational training and generalist skills.
· Norwegian and German firms rely almost wholly upon internal firm specific training techniques.
· Danish firms are particularly effective in combining in-house and external methods.
· Spanish and French firms appear less committed to developing managers over the long-term.

Ramirez added: “We found that in-house training was the most common type of management development methods used in all countries, while experience and in-house training were considered the most effective methods. These results, while not unexpected, underline the importance of firms investing in their managerial workforce.”

In total, 700 HR and line managers took part in the study, comparing and contrasting practices of managerial learning and development.


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