Firms preparing for future by investing in skills

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81% of companies plan to maintain or increase their training budgets to leverage employee potential

Firms are preparing for national and international political change and uncertainty by investing heavily in employee development, according to research from Henley Business School.

The Corporate Learning Survey found that, in reaction to events such as Brexit, 81% of companies plan to maintain or increase their training budgets to build on organisational capabilities, leverage the potential in their workforce, and so future-proof their business and avoid a mass talent exodus.

Among the 446 firms surveyed, 35% believed their budget for learning and development would grow compared to the previous year, and 46% expected it to stay the same. Only 18% anticipated it getting smaller.

This was a marked change from two years ago when only 23% believed there would be an increase in their learning and development budget, and 21% expected it to fall.

Respondents were asked to answer an open-ended question in their own words about what impact the events of 2016 would have on their organisation. Out of 198 respondents, 89 suggested national and international political change and uncertainty, such as Brexit and the US election, would have an impact. Disruption – from globalisation, megatrends, the speed of change, technology and cyber security – also featured highly on the list of concerns, chosen by 27.

Claire Hewitt, head of learning design for executive education at Henley Business School, said the report highlights a change in business attitudes towards skills. “The survey results reflect that businesses are entering unchartered territory and recognise the need to strengthen from within,” she said. “All staff need to step up, collaborate and work together, which is why we are seeing people at all levels being encouraged to build their capabilities.

“This is fantastic news for employees; who can now benefit from companies investing more heavily in their staff, providing a valuable opportunity for them to build on their skillsets," she added. "Challenge-based learning, which is designed around current challenges faced by an organisation, and 1:1 and team coaching will be key to achieving this, as these development approaches deliver immediate, tangible and measurable outcomes for both the individual and the firm.”

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