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Shocking statistics show poor UK training uptake but learning is non-negotiable

Recent news that nearly half (46%) of the UK’s workforce received no training in 2011 is a shocking statistic.

This news is yet more proof of the poor uptake of learning and development across almost all sectors of the UK workforce. Unfortunately, many organisations feel like there are several barriers to providing learning and development, like time, money and receiving adequate ROI. But actually, the benefits far outweigh the hurdles.

For example, training aids in job satisfaction, employee retention and engagement, as well as an increase in staff productivity and capacity. Furthermore, both the public and private sector are still feeling the resonating effects of the economic downturn, and forward-thinking organisations that are looking for a competitive edge, must hire and retain the best staff. But what's holding companies back?

Clearly, it's not a budget issue. SkillSoft recently conducted research with 500 UK CEOs, and nearly a third (31%) of businesses plan to increase training budgets by 10% over the next 12 months. Certainly, the corporate world is still interested in developing and nurturing worker's leadership skills, but they are failing to execute their L&D plans adequately. In our experience, the corporate world is certainly still training those employees with high potential, but training should be applied equally across the board, including part-time workers, carers, older workers and disabled workers.

Organisations are already training those staff that they consider to be 'high potential' workers, but they are not the only members of staff who need training. Specifically, those on the front line of the business require specific job-related training even more than those who might have been in their roles longer or are not client-facing. These front line workers, who may work in customer service, are the workers who affect the brand's overall reputation and require skills training. To not adequate train and prepare these workers is just irresponsible.

Many critics are quick to blame the lack of training on the economic downturn. But, it has merely caused a shift in the types of training offered to workers. Agile organisations are looking to move away from expensive, traditional forms of training and are instead looking towards blended learning, to include a mix of both classroom and e-learning solutions.

By implementing a tailored training programme employers can maximise both its training budget and workforce. In fact, personalised learning and development programmes should be non-negotiable for any organisation looking to grow. It is a vital part of any business and those companies that use a wide brush stroke across the organisation are set to lose out over the long run.

The best way to rejuvenate your training is to align your company alongside a specialist learning partner, who has the expertise needed to find what will work best for your business. A learning partner should be able to provide not only the technology necessary for implementing a training programme, but also the expertise to suit each employee's specific needs. The relationship between the learning provider and employer is one that requires attention, dedication and know-how; otherwise organisations are just wasting money.

Understandably organisations are having to tighten their purse strings, however, it is imperative that companies properly train all its employees,regardless of job or current skill-level.

Kevin Young (pictured), managing director EMEA of SkillSoft