The good job that training providers do

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Written by Richard Griffin on 9 October 2013

I have been catching up on my reading. I really should do this more often. Goodness knows there is plenty of stuff out there on training - surveys, reports, research, viewpoints, not to mention blogs.

It seems the evidence for the impact of training on performance grows. A recent evaluation in The Economic Journal by Andries De Grip and Jan Netherlands found that participation in a week long on-the-job training programme for call centre staff resulted in a 10 per cent rise in performance. There was also a spillover effect. Even though only half the team had been trained, the performance of colleagues who had not been trained also rose - by 2.5 per cent. Moreover, the training resulted in other quality related improvements including an increased understanding of customers needs.

Interestingly, the research suggested that the performance improvement of the call centre employees who were studied was due as much to a leap in motivation as to newly acquired skills. Does this matter? I am not sure it does to be honest. Whether through raised motivation or new skill application, training resulted in positive changes. If it had not been for the training, there would not have been any change. This does though point to the need to think about the unintended consequences of training as much as the intended ones.

Talking of unintended consequences, I doubt that many companies plan training specifically in the hope that it will result in staff staying in their jobs longer but you know what, that is exactly what training results in: reduced turnover. Trained workers it seems do stay in their jobs longer than untrained ones according to a clutch of research reviews.

I am sure no readers of The Training Journal need to be convinced of the worth of training but reading the results of the 2013 BIS Continuing Vocational Learning Surve,y I discovered that nearly two in 10 organisations do not actually provide their staff with any training. Why? The main reason seemed to be that these employers thought that they could recruit new employees to meet any skills gap they had. They thought they did not need  to train although presumably were happy that other organisations did!

Lack of suitable courses was only mentioned by one in five companies (including those who did train but would like to train more). I think this shows that the training industry is doing a pretty good at meeting the needs of employers.  No mean feat given that employers don't always know what they need and are sometimes unrealistic about the cost of training. 

A few other facts from the survey worth quoting. The average amount spend on training in 2010 was £29,900 per organisation, 42 per cent provided in house organised training and 54 per cent training delivered by external providers. The average cost of an externally accessed course was £710 per person. Men spent longer on average training than women - no explanation provided for this. The main overall message from the survey was that training activity and investment is holding up which always gook to know.

About the author
Richard Griffin is director of the Institute of Vocational Learning and Workplace Research at Buckinghamshire New University. He can be contacted at: Richard.Griffin@bucks.ac.uk
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