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Raising skills up the business agenda: Rachel Pinto

Friday 14 February 2014

At a time of tightened finances, changes in employment regulations and considerable time pressures - skills development is hardly a priority for many businesses. But equipping staff with the right skills is proven to increase productivity and employee well-being. So what can be done to raise skills development up the business agenda? And how can strong employment relations help?
Rachel Pinto

Rachel Pinto

Rachel is a Senior Research Officer at Acas focusing on policy research.

Recently, I went to the launch of the UK Commission's Employer Skills Survey 2013 results. It's one of the largest employer based surveys of its kind, interviewing just over 91,000 employers across the UK. So it gives a great insight into how much employers train their staff and the impact of skills deficiencies on their business.

Encouragingly the results showed that two thirds of employers fund or arrange training for their staff. And while employers are spending less on training, the level of training is broadly in line with 2011. This suggests that employers may be finding cost-effective ways to train or training based on specific business needs.

But this is not the complete training picture. Training varies considerably by firm size.  For instance, around 50 per cent of businesses with 2-4 employees provided training compared to more than 75 per cent of businesses with 5-24 employees. This is a stark difference. Training is also more prevalent in certain types of industries like education and health, and less likely in agriculture and construction. So it seems that access to training and development is not equal.

The obvious barriers to training and development are a lack time and money. But this is not the complete picture too. It makes me wonder; faced with problems such as high staff absenteeism, recruitment and handling conflict at work - how can employers and employees prioritise focusing on training? These types of issues result in increased pressures for managers and staff, which mean skills development slips down the priority list, or it's not considered at all.

The UKCES findings also highlighted the impact of skills deficiencies on business activities. Some of the impacts included an increased workload for staff, more supervision of staff and the need to change work practices.All these are areas that businesses need help with, as it involves adapting some of their internal processes.

This is where Acas can help. The Acas Helpline receives thousands of calls each month from employers and employees alike, seeking advice on a wealth of employment issues. Acas also provides impartial help and support to businesses of all shapes and sizes. From offering a range of guidance materials to training and tailored business solutions.

Good employment relations are the foundation of business success. And ensuring that less conflict arises in the workplace can help set the right conditions for training to flourish. This in turn brings a wealth of benefits including increased productivity and staff motivation.

There is no doubt that many businesses and individuals see the benefits of training, but fail to make it a reality for a number of reasons. But let's make sure that strong employment relations are in place, so that skills development moves up the business agenda.

1 Comment

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  • Posted by Caroline Berry (NIACE)  |  17 February 2014, 2:00PM

    A great blog that highlights a survey with lots of potential. Not thought of ACAS in this way before but good to see the opportunities.