The British Chambers of Commerce organisation is calling on businesses to invest in workforce training as a key driver for economic success and improved productivity performance.
The national Chamber body has published further findings from its 2014 Workforce Survey: Training and Skills. Results show that 92% have identified a skills shortage among staff in at least one key competency. The most common skills shortages are leadership/management, planning/organisation, languages, computer literacy and creativity.
In order to address this, 80% have indicated plans to invest in training their workforce over the next 12 months. Four in ten firm plan to invest more than £500 per employee in external training over the next year. The major barriers to training investment are: cost (50%), freeing up staff to participate (31%), and a lack of suitable courses (19%).
Companies looking for guidance on courses are turning to private providers, (71%) sector-based bodies (38%) and further education colleges (35%) to source and deliver training, often brokered by local Chambers.
Key findings from the survey:
- Communication skills (83%), teamwork (82%) and customer service (72%) are important skills for firms when recruiting. Fewer than one in five firms report a shortage here
- 33% say they have a skills shortage in leadership/management and planning/organisation (26%), recognised as core skills relating to commercial development. 35% report a shortage in languages (35%), 23% in computer literacy and 20% in creativity
- 41% plan to invest up to £500 per employee in training; 39% plan to invest a higher amount
- For the majority, it is on-the-job training (78%), H&S (59%), first aid (56%) and technical / job-specific training (56%).
- 65% offer one to five days training per year; newer members of staff (under one year) often receive more.
Nora Senior, President of BCC, said:
“Businesses recognise that investing in training can drive higher productivity and increased profits. In addition to specialised training, however, our findings make it clear that investment in leadership and management skills are crucial to enhance strategic thinking, foster innovation and motivate a firm’s employees. It is good to see that most businesses are taking a proactive approach by investing in their existing workforce. Long-standing complaints around the cost of training, a lack of suitable courses, and staff availability – since people are needed at the front line – remain important issues. To ensure that even more businesses can invest in training, which in turn will drive higher wages, we need to improve dialogue between firms and the organisations that offer training – so that companies find training that is relevant, cost-effective and a good fit with staff working hours.”