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25 Apr 2016

Training in Today’s Economic Climate

Economic Business Climate

The aim of any successful business is to profitably provide goods and services to a happy and enthusiastic customer base. To maximise their return, businesses worldwide want to use their resources as efficiently as possible.

Therefore, the productivity of any business can be improved with a fully trained, motivated and competent work force. A productive labour force is a great asset for a business. It offers the business the opportunity to gain (or at least maintain) its market share and increase customer satisfaction which in turn should deliver greater profit margin for the company.

In recent years, the pressure on many businesses to survive has been high during the economic slowdown. Many companies have had to re-structure their financial gearing to remain competitive. Cutbacks have often impacted costs which in turn limits expansion and growth. To counteract this, a greater emphasis has been placed on increasing staff efficiency and productivity.

Schooling and Government Training

Traditionally, the government helps improve the quality of the labour force through investment in the education system. Providing equipment for schools while improving the quality of teachers and the standards expected from students goes a long way to making school, college and university leavers a valuable part of any work force.

In recent years, many students have taken advantage of the Government loan schemes to extend their time in full time education and enter the work force with greater skills, knowledge and confidence.

The Government provides training in later years to equip people with the skills and knowledge required by employers. The most popular government training schemes include apprenticeships for people over age 16 and not in full-time education; the Flexible New Deal programme re-launched in 2010 to reduce unemployment by providing training, subsidised employment and voluntary work for the unemployed; and National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ) a competence based qualification for people to learn practical, work related tasks. NVQs can be obtained in many business sectors including sales, marketing, construction, health and social care, food, catering, manufacturing and engineering.

Typical Business Training

Most companies recognise the importance of training their staff. Training helps quash or at least reduce staff stress or anxiety in a new job, improve communication channels within the company and develop a highly skilled work force.

This is why most workers receive some training when they start a new job. This training may be in the form of induction training, on the job training whereby the person is trained by an existing staff member, or off the job training where the person is sent off site to train with a professional trainer.

Further training is available for some staff if changes affect their ability to perform their job. These changes often relate to new technology introductions, a change in working practices (if a takeover or a merger has occurred) or if new legislation has come into place.

The emphasis of this type of training is to ensure the work force is fully up-to-date with the new information about new products, the laws, working practices and procedures. The training is focused on avoiding mistakes, consequences or fines. It tends to be focused more on company needs rather than individual desire and wants.

The Benefits of Having a Trained Workforce

Training a workforce needs commitment, conviction and often a big training budget. It’s without doubt expensive to invest in training a workforce; however, there are many returns from this type of investment. The main benefit is that it will improve the company’s overall image and reputation. If the company is recognised as investing in its staff, this usually makes it easier to attract high quality personnel.

Managers within the business also gain staff who are more motivated and better equipped to do their job. If the workers feel competent, skilled and capable of completing their day-to-day tasks, they are also likely to be more co-operative and therefore, easier to manage.

Flexibility within any business is key to its success and continued growth. Some businesses train their staff in a range of different jobs so they are multi-skilled and gain a broad knowledge of how the business works.

As new jobs or tasks evolve within the business, managers are more likely to select the staff members who are most flexible and able to adapt to new duties, responsibilities or demands. Often these members of staff are picked out for promotional training without them being specifically aware of it.

Knowledgeable, skilled and flexible staff members are also selected to mentor less experienced staff members. Mentoring is a way to ensure that knowledge is kept within the business and also to recognise and value chosen members of the workforce

Employees, in general, benefit greatly from being trained whether from in-house training or external training. It helps the employee feel valued and a worthwhile member of the team. Training also helps to reduce any anxieties or concerns about job performance because thanks to immediate feedback and reassurances.

Training is therefore a good way to maintain staff motivation levels. If motivation is positive then staff members are less likely to take time off sick or look for alternative employment (perhaps with a competing firm). Low staff absenteeism and staff turnover is good for business because productivity remains high and recruitment costs are kept low.

Lastly, if employee motivation is high it should lead to greater innovation with the business itself. Well adjusted, content and satisfied workers are more likely to share their ideas to improve the business or thoughts about how to develop new and competitive products, services or systems. Fulfilled members of staff care about the business and feel a sense of responsibility about its development, progression and success.

The REAL Costs of Training

Despite the obvious benefits of having a trained workforce, some businesses either can’t afford the investment or they are reluctant to invest heavily in training staff. The main reasons for this are listed below.

  • Costs of training – training can be very expensive in terms of the training itself and also the fees for qualified professional training courses or training materials. There is also the possible added cost of the new equipment, systems or machinery which may or may not have been budgeted for.
  • Loss of output – If workers are being trained there is the added cost of the loss of output during training. Any loss of output is an expensive cost for any business,,even if the workers are being trained in-house. It also takes time for the trainee to get up to speed and start delivering quality work. Mistakes, errors and slow work all cost the business money and sometimes reputation in terms of how the company is perceived by the customer receiving sub-standard work.
  • Employees Leave – There is always a risk for a company that they invest in training members of their workforce only for them to leave and join a rival or competitor soon after training. For this reason, some business prefer to recruit workers who have been trained by other companies so they can avoid such costs and disappointments.

However, some businesses accept that staff turnover is inevitable and therefore prefer to train and invest in staff members who offer them a higher quality of service, commitment and input whilst they are employed by the company.

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