Workplace training missing staff most in need

View Latest News Publish Date: 16-Nov-2005

Workplace training missing staff most in need

An urgent overhaul of training is needed to address the serious skills gaps crippling many parts of the economy, warns a TUC report.

'Training, who gets it?', reveals that a third of businesses do not offer any training to their staff and almost two fifths (39 per cent) of the workforce received no training last year. Those least likely to get trained are in semi-skilled and manual jobs. Three fifths (60 per cent) of employers offered some form of training to their professional staff in the past year. However, less than half (45 per cent) of employers made the same offer to their staff in manual jobs.

However, employers say that staff in these jobs have the greatest skills gaps that need to be addressed. The report also reveals that staff who have a good relationship with their line manager, or who have the confidence to approach them to discuss training needs, are more likely to get the training they require.

The report warns that a shift of onus from the company to the individual to meet training needs will keep the bulk of training budgets the preserve of the more confident and better-qualified staff. Sixty two per cent of companies expect the responsibility for training to shift more to the individual employee in the future.

'Training, who gets it?' reveals that workers in semi-skilled and manual occupations are much less likely to have an opportunity to discuss their training needs at work than those in higher skilled jobs. Additionally less skilled workers rate the quality of support from their line manager well below workers in white collar jobs.

However, the increasingly important role of union learning reps is beginning to break this cycle in many companies. Union learning reps are specially trained union members tasked with helping their workmates take up training courses at work and are helping deliver a fairer share of the training budget.

There are hundreds of training providers delivering thousands of courses in all sorts of different areas. 'Training, who gets it?' looked at what £2,000 could buy:

What training can £2,000 pay for?

  • 4.2 days project management training
  • 3.3 days financial training for non-financial managers
  • 3.3 days senior advanced manager training
  • 1.5 years of a part time degree/HND
  • 1/6th of an MBA
  • 2 adults achieving an NVQ Level 3 (training over 18 months)
  • 15 people on 3 day quality assurance training

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: 'If individuals are expected to take greater responsibility of their own training needs we will have a situation where whoever shouts the loudest, or knows how the training system works, will get the most out of the training budget.

'This report shows that if businesses really want value for money from their training then they must find out what their staff need. Token gesture training for the masses and expensive training for the elite will not address the real problems of workers unable to keep up with the fast changing modern world of business.

'The trade union movement is leading a quiet revolution at work through the army of union learning reps who are listening to their colleagues and delivering essential skills training, which for many is their first form of training since they left school. Managers need to embrace the skills agenda, work with the unions, and deliver training for staff who really need it.' 

Members of the Work Place Learning Centre team are available to provide journalists and media organisations with expert comment on all aspects of learning at work.

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