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Over a third of Brits feel they can’t develop new skills in their current job

Thirty-five per cent of UK workers believe that employers do not provide them with enough opportunities to develop new skills, while less than half (49.9%) of UK staff indicate they can decide for themselves which training courses they may/can attend.

That’s according to results of research conducted by payroll and HR services provider SD Worx in Belgium, Germany, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

The possibility to continue to develop within the company is the third most important factor in employee engagement (but only the 9thmost important in the UK). Nevertheless, many employers still do not offer their employees enough opportunities to continue to develop their talents.

On average, 29.7 per cent indicate that they are unable to develop sufficiently within the context of their current job across the markets surveyed.

In Germany (37.9%) and the United Kingdom (34.6%), this is the case for more than one in three employees. In France too, at (31.1%), the figure is (slightly) higher than the average. This is the case for one in four employees (26.3%) in Belgium and fewer than one in five employees (18.6%) in the Netherlands.

“Employers often underestimate the importance of training and upskilling as part of their ongoing jobs,” says Cathy Geerts, Chief HR Officer at SD Worx.

“No employees wish to have the feeling that they are stuck in a particular job, especially with all the pressures and uncertainties of the global pandemic. If this year has taught us anything – it is the importance of flexibility, life-long learning and positive attitude as we collectively tackle problems and juggle personal and professional lives.

“In order to increase employee engagement, it is crucial to give your employees the opportunity to develop continuously – to show that you value and invest in them – as much as you invest in stronger foundations for the business.”

The research also revealed that a large proportion of employees have no say in what kind of training courses they may attend. At the European level, an average of 53.4 per cent say that they are involved in making these choices. This means that almost half of them do not feel they are involved in deciding which training courses they may attend.

In France (48.5%) and the United Kingdom (49.9%), less than half of employees say they may help shape their own development. In Belgium (53.6%) and Germany (54.1%), the figures were just over half. In the Netherlands, six out of ten employees are allowed to be involved in deciding which training courses they wish to attend.

These figures are, to a large extent, at odds with the efforts that employees wish to make in order to continue to develop. 71.6 per cent are constantly trying to obtain further training and develop specialisations. In all countries, at least two in three employees wish to improve their work and to work more efficiently. Half (49.2%) also look at the possibilities of attending training courses several times a year.

Fortunately, the majority of companies do so already. Three in four SMEs already have training projects underway for their employees or plan to do so. In medium-sized and large companies with more than 250 employees, nearly 90 per cent are already involved. However, it appears that the employees often still consider this as insufficient or have little input. Many companies can still take steps in this regard.

“By investing in employee training, businesses are investing in their teams’ job satisfaction at the same time,” saysGeerts“Even when working schedules are busy or monotonous, learning opportunities support talent retention because staff don’t feel the pressure to change their roles simply to learn something new. Therefore, a culture of knowledge sharing is very important to support business continuity.

“Today, 81.1% of Brits say it’s difficult to change jobs – but if staff are not satisfied in their current jobs companies may see talent drain once job opportunities improve. A good talent management system can play a supporting role here because it not only brings out a team’s skills, but also provides employees with an overview of which areas and with which training courses they can continue to develop.”