A new survey by AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) has found that, despite a sluggish economy, employers are still investing heavily in staff training and skills. Over nine in ten (92%) employers expect to invest either the same or more time and money on improving staff qualifications and skills next year as this. Nearly half (44%) of those surveyed expect to use more in-house training in future and almost a third (31%) expect to focus more on remote-learning resources.
Jane Scott Paul OBE, Chief Executive of AAT, said: “A lot has been made recently of businesses taking fewer risks, sitting on capital and refusing to invest profits. But this research paints a very different picture. Employers are clearly committed to improving staff qualifications and skills, but they’re not just treading water – instead they are looking for new ways to provide staff training.
“The focus on in-house training and remote-learning shows there’s a desire to make resources go further, along with concerns about staff spending too much time out of the office.”
The survey also found that employers are changing the way they provide staff training. Almost half of employers (44%) say they would like to see more downloadable learning resources such as podcasts and vodcasts, and almost two-fifths (38%) are considering increased use of live e-learning. However, smaller employers focus more on personal interaction with almost two in five (38%) saying they prefer staff to be taught face-to-face, compared to just one in ten large employers.
The results also show that businesses are looking beyond simple financial measures when making decisions about staff training. Over half of employers (51%) believe a main benefit of improving staff qualifications and skills is increased staff commitment and retention. Only a quarter believe a main benefit is the ability to charge more for the work of their staff.
Jane added: “Employers are not just looking at their bottom line when making decisions about staff training. Most recognise that improving staff skills is an important way to increase staff commitment to their organisation. Staff retention has become a far greater concern than the potential financial rewards of better trained staff.
“Businesses have been much maligned recently for a perceived lack of investment in their staff. But employers are showing far greater commitment than they’re given credit for. They now need to get the message out there that they are supporting their staff and are committed to improving their skills and qualifications.”