Almost three-quarters of employers believe controlling costs is the most pressing challenge facing their managers and leaders. Improving business efficiency and maintaining staff morale came a close second, according to the latest report from the Alliance Skills Monitor, produced by the Sector Skills Councils.

The quarterly panel, which ‘takes the pulse’ of employers across the UK on key issues such as the economic climate, management and leadership, organisational performance and change, has now released its findings for Wave 3.

The Alliance Skills Monitor is a quarterly panel survey on UK-based organisations

Other key findings from the latest report showed that in trems of training and devlopment almost a quarter of the panel (24%) still anticipate having to cut investment on training and staff development in the next three months, this is still an improvement on six months ago when this figure was almost a third (32%). Companies choosing to invest in this area over the next three months appear to be prioritising more senior staff. Over half (55%) of panel members see their key spending priorities for staff training and development over the next three months as leadership and management training, followed by health & safety training (45%).

In regards to Training priorities: Nearly two thirds (64%) of members cited people management skills as being the most important management and leadership skills to their organisation, followed by business planning skills. People management skills may be especially important to organisations during a recession especially if they have made redundancies and need to ensure work is being completed with a reduced workforce.

The main drivers of the need for management and leadership skills development are increased competitive pressures (56%), followed by new legislative or regulatory requirements (49%). Increased competitive pressures are likely to be a result of the economic downturn as companies have had to continually work on their competitive edge in order to attract customers.

In relation to funding nearly two thirds (64%) of organisations on the Skills Monitor panel tend to fund management and leadership training and development through the organisation. By comparison, only 6% said their training is funded mainly by Government subsidies and only 17% are using a combination of their own and Government money. Just 2% said individuals were mainly paying for their own management and leadership training. Most companies (62%) turn to private training providers for management and leadership training and development, but more than a third are using internal training, informal on the job learning opportunities, professional bodies and FE colleges.

John McNamara, CEO, Alliance of Sector Skills Councils says: “Naturally money is still very much on our minds and this is having an inevitable impact on how employers and business leaders are looking at all aspects of their organisation. Despite the government’s swingeing budget cuts there is still funding out there for training but it seems that employers are still slow to take this up.”