Today's news that the UK economy has emerged from recession came alongside encouraging research highlighting employers' investment in developing their staff.
A survey by the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) found that 92% of employers expect to invest either the same, or more, time and money on improving staff qualifications and skills in 2013 as they did this year. However, in a bid to save on costs, almost half (44%) expect to use more in-house training in future, while close to one-third (31%) will make more use of remote learning resources.
Jane Scott Paul, chief executive of AAT, said: "A lot has been made recently of businesses taking fewer risks, sitting on capital and refusing to invest profits. But this research paints a very different picture. Employers are clearly committed to improving staff qualifications and skills, but they're not just treading water - instead they are looking for new ways to provide staff training.
"The focus on in-house training and remote learning shows there's a desire to make resources go further, along with concerns about staff spending too much time out of the office."
Downloadable training resources such as podcasts and videocasts feature prominently in respondents' training plans. Almost half (44%) of respondents said that they would like to see more downloadable learning resources, while almost as many (38%) are considering using live e-learning (for example, attending a seminar via a video link). Smaller employers still prefer personal interaction, however, with 38% saying that they prefer staff to be taught face to face, compared to one-tenth of larger employers.
The findings will be welcomed by employers after several reports suggested that training is still low on the boardroom agenda. A recent survey by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, for example, found that 83% of CEOs and CFOs advocated cutting investment in developing skills, training and qualifications over the next 18 months.
Driving the continued investment in training and qualifications is a desire to increase staff commitment and retention, adds the report. More than half of those surveyed saw this as a main benefit.
"Employers are not just looking at their bottom line when making decisions about staff training. Most recognise that improving staff skills is an important way to increase staff commitment to their organisation," Scott Paul added.
"Businesses have been much maligned recently for a perceived lack of investment in their staff. But employers are showing far greater commitment than they're given credit for. They now need to get the message out there that they are supporting their staff and are committed to improving their skills and qualifications."
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