One in four workers don’t feel adequately trained to do their jobs

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Millions of workers across the UK may be undertrained for their current jobs, with one in four feeling that they haven’t received sufficient training to succeed in their roles.

New research by LMS provider Digits suggests that only 73% of employees are confident that they have been properly trained to do their jobs. As many as one in six (16%) employees are unsure they’ve received enough training, and one in ten (11%) are of the opinion that they haven’t been adequately trained. 

Around half (47%) of the 1,001 British adults surveyed say that they didn’t receive any training and development from their employer in 2021, while for nearly a fifth (17%) of people it’s been three years or more. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s the employees with the longest training gaps who are among the most likely to question their own skills gaps.

It’s a stark comparison: 79% of people who received workplace training in 2021 believe they are well trained to do their jobs, compared to just 67% of those who didn’t receive any training last year. The former – more recently trained – group are less likely to think that they haven’t been adequately trained (7% compared to 14%) and are also less likely to be unsure about the quality of the training they’ve received (14% compared to 18%).

The results vary considerably by industry, with people working in sales and marketing or legal services, statistically, more likely to feel well-trained in their roles (92% and 83% respectively), compared to workers in healthcare or education (78% and 71% respectively), for example.

Interestingly, a greater number of non-managerial staff, than managers, benefited from workplace training in 2021 (56% compared to 47%). Two-thirds (63%) of workers at large organisations, employing over 5,000 employees, also enjoyed more access to L&D opportunities, compared to just two-fifths (43%) of workers from smaller firms, with 26-50 employees.

For many organisations, the seismic shift to remote and hybrid ways of working, social distancing restrictions, furlough, redundancies, lack of revenue, and budget cuts during the pandemic, continued to take their toll on L&D provisions and in-person training in 2021. Despite these challenges, the vast majority of survey respondents (68% of which have been in their current roles for three years or more) did rate their employer’s workplace training and development opportunities positively. 

When questioned on the quality of the L&D opportunities available, over half (51%) of workers called them ‘good’, praising their employer for prioritising employee training. A further 39% said they were okay. Only one in ten (11%) called their employer’s provisions ‘poor’ and agreed with the statement that their ‘employer neglects employee training’.

Most organisations’ L&D programmes do appear to have room for improvement though, as only a minority of employees found their recent training to have been entirely useful to their role. On the positive side, just over a third (38%) of survey respondents think that ‘it filled a definite skills or knowledge gap’. On the negative, a quarter (25%) of survey respondents deemed it ‘solely a box-ticking exercise’ (that figure rises to 29% among the over 55s).

Lack of training time was also an issue for some people (36%) undertaking training. When considering their most recent workplace training, only two-thirds say that their employer set aside enough time to enable them to complete it. Around one in four (24%) say their normal workload wasn’t reduced to enable sufficient time (and headspace) to do the training and one in ten (12%) were expected to undertake the training in their free time.

An organisation’s L&D initiatives matter because they are seen to add value and be of value to employees – not just to existing ones, but the next hires, too. When it comes to job hunting, training provisions can be as important a consideration as non-monetary benefits, salary, and working hours. Nearly a third of people (28%) say they wouldn’t apply for a job with an employer that doesn’t invest in L&D/training. Around the same number (31%) say they have, or would, leave a job if an employer changed or stopped its L&D initiatives. 

The findings form part of Digit’s latest whitepaper report – Are we trained for work?  which explores workplace training provisions from an employee and employer perspective and features insight from L&D experts into the trends and challenges shaping the world of learning.

Bradley Burgoyne, head of talent at Digits, said: “People may be highly qualified, uniquely skilled and experienced but they don’t necessarily always feel that way every day. Even people who have been in a job for years need regular training and development to support them and help them continue to grow in their role. It shouldn’t be a perk but an integral part of our working life.

“While access to good workplace training is proven to enhance skillsets it also, importantly, can reinforce people’s confidence in their own abilities – positively impacting their productivity, engagement and job satisfaction. Reskilling and upskilling employees – opening career development and job mobility opportunities to existing workers – is one of the best ways to future-proof your organisation, fill skills gaps, and retain and attract top talent.

“Not investing in employee training, on the other hand, can have the opposite effect and ripple across an entire organisation. Shockingly, one in four of our survey respondents consider their most recent training to have been ‘solely a box-ticking exercise’ rather than useful or effective. Investment in people development is critical for a successful and healthy organisation. The risks for employers who don’t, can go way beyond low employee morale and increased staff turnover, and lead to costly errors and even accidents at work.”

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    Lisa Carter

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