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Businesses investing heavily in ineffective training

Almost all (99%) employees have seen a training plan that was ineffective or that failed to deliver on objectives in the last five years, according to new research from City & Guilds.

The main reasons why employees were underwhelmed included poor planning, not having the right people taking part, and a lack of evaluation of the training.

Despite poor feedback, 96% of businesses are expecting their training budgets to remain the same or increase in the next financial year.

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Ian Luxford, learning specialist at The Motivation Agency, highlighted areas where training often goes wrong.

Speaking to HR magazine, he said: "There are many causes of training failure and rightly, the report counsels employers to learn from mistakes, many of which will be specific to the programmes concerned."

"Some common mistakes include trying to replicate – because something has worked before (or is the way we always do it) does not mean it will definitely work again. 

"It is important to innovate for effectiveness as well as impact. If something is new and challenging for learners, this could be positive if it is designed to make the right things happen. Just being different on its own is not a success criterion.

The majority of organisations (88%) said they carry out in-house training. Within that number, 65% design and deliver bespoke training for technical and role-specific skills.

Enhanced investment in learning and development is being driven a need to attract new talent (43%), companies becoming more competitive (41%), listening to employee demands for training and career progression (39%) and resolving skills shortages (37%).

David Phillips, managing director of City & Guilds added: "Large employers are investing in learning and development to remain competitive and drive growth in challenging market conditions. Although it’s positive to see consistent, and even growing, investment, employers need to consider strengthening their training offer and building in more evaluation that effectively quantifies the return on investment for training.

"Recognising achievement through certification could also be key in attracting and retaining talent."

Luxford added: "Using approaches which are too tactical, simplistic or “one size fits all” will not work and it is absolutely right that many are prioritising tailored programmes.

"It is really good to see that employers are taking control. The report highlights many critical actions which these employers can take to ensure that investment in this critical area pays dividends. Successful training can eliminate or reduce failure in many other areas of organisational life."

City & Guilds surveyed 600 L&D and HR professionals from large UK organisations in August 2022.