Employers find cost effective training alternatives for staff development

Amid concerns that the education system is failing to equip young employees with the skills and even the work-ready attitude small businesses and the economy need, it appears that resourceful business owners are looking towards alternatives to costly courses in order to up-skill their staff without breaking the bank.

As usual, most of their time and money is being eaten up on training staff in the requirements of regulations – detracting from other areas of staff development.

While 32 per cent of panellists believe the overall training and skills environment has improved recently, compared to the 19% who think it has deteriorated, costs are seen as the biggest barrier to providing training for employees, with 61 per cent of panellists reporting this.

A total of 40 per cent said the availability of training is a barrier, 28 per cent indicated quality of courses as an issue and 22% reported that time needed for training is an impediment.

The time and money spent on regulatory compliance training is hindering coaching in key skills and other areas of staff development, affecting recruitment and, subsequently, economic growth. A total of 64 per cent of respondents include regulatory compliance as part of their training budget – more than any other area of training.

In all, 58 per cent of respondents believe their training focus is ‘not ideal’, citing time and costs as the main reasons, compared to 40 per cent who think it is – with improved business performance the main benefit.

There are serious consequences. A total of 65 per cent of panellists have subsequently not recruited in the past year, even though some had considered it, compared to 35% who have taken on staff.

However, more than one in five firms use guides and handbooks, while other popular alternatives to courses include supplier training (48%) public sector training provided by bodies such as colleges or local authorities (41%), services from trusted advisers such as accountants (38%), personal coaching and mentoring (34%), online training services (28%), ‘DIY’ training including industry tips (24%) and analysing competitors (14%). Just 3% use self-help videos.

To arm owner managers and their staff with the knowledge and skills they need to negotiate these regulatory pitfalls we produce both a health and safety and employment guide – so clearly we recognise the value of such alternatives to small firms.

But they also need better support from the Government to help them provide workers with these key skills. For a start, the school curriculum must include elements of workplace skills – not least in order to boost the employment prospects of young people.