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Why HR is to blame for poor skills delivery

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Why HR is to blame for poor skills delivery

For many years now I have been perplexed by news stories about productivity. We have been regularly told that the UK lags behind most other developed economies on this measure and should do something to make up the gap. However, all the anecdotal evidence that I see suggests half-decent health in the UK economy relative to its competitors. Surely, the productivity picture cant possibly be as bleak as has been painted?


Now it seems that we doubters may have had a point. Statistics from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggest that the UKs productivity is ahead of both Germany and Japan. Even so, results of our landmark Human Resources/Skills for Business survey show how much more can be done for productivity in the UK. The survey, which begins on page 32, reveals that over 85% of respondents estimate that having the right number of people with the right mix of skills would boost performance by more than 5% in their organisation. To put this in perspective, such an improvement would see a 50 billion increase in GDP. This is equivalent to either half of the total currently collected from income tax, three times the income from council tax or the entire annual spend on education in this country.


Unfortunately, the survey also shows the gap between potential productivity and reality. More than half of those surveyed suggested that there was not enough skills training currently taking place within their organisations to realise such a great leap forward in productivity. The vast majority three out of four put it down to the cost of training. This is a paradox. The mind-set of UK employers seems overwhelmingly to treat training as a cost, rather than as an investment. Yet by their own admission, in this survey, employers also believe that investment in skills will yield significant improvements in productivity and a decent return on their training outlay. This suggests two things: that UK organisations are lolling around in a self-satisfied malaise, with little ambition to raise


themselves above a low-skills equilibrium; and that HR, which has a key role in boosting skills and productivity, is failing in its duty to communicate how much value-for-money skills training is currently going begging. Both are running out of excuses for a poor delivery record of skills training.


If you are not sure how well your HR function is delivering the goods, then you should take some time out to benchmark yourself against your peers. There is still just enough time to beat our 2 April deadline for this years Human Resources Excellence Awards. You can either download an entry form from the web address below or turn to page 16 for more details.


Trevor Merriden, editor