Bigger not necessarily better for L&D spending

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EXCLUSIVE

The amount of money that organisations invest in training does not necessarily equate to the quality of training they receive, according to data from the managed learning services company KnowledgePool.

KnowledgePool’s overview of the UK training supplier market found that average delegate ratings tended to be higher for smaller training companies, which also charged considerably less than large training providers.

The average rating for smaller training companies, classified as those with between three and 20 employees, was 4.5 out of five, with five being the highest score. This compared with 4.2 for training providers with more than 100 employees.

Larger companies’ published day rates were £1,678 per day on average, while at small companies this was £1,266 – a difference of more than £400 per day. The average rate organisations ended up paying was £1,197 per day for a business trainer.

The report also indicated a wealth of experience in the UK training profession, with almost two-thirds (63.6%) of the trainers it surveyed having more than five years’ experience. Interestingly, the larger the training provider, the less experienced the trainer is likely to be. Almost one-fifth of trainers at large organisations have less than three years’ experience, compared with just 6% at small organisations.

Larger training organisations also tend to be made up largely of non-employees, who may be working for the company on a freelance basis – only 15% of trainers at the larger companies that KnowledgePool surveyed were permanent staff.

Across the industry as a whole, there is an army of freelance and associate trainers who make up most of the numbers – the majority (78%) of trainers in the UK are freelancers.

In terms of revenue, larger companies account for 51% of training supplier revenues in the UK. Almost 40% of companies’ spend goes to “curriculum providers”, whose main activity tends to be delivering courses based on an existing curriculum such as NVQ or CIPD; these tend to be the larger companies.

Russell Kenrick, business development director at KnowledgePool, said: “All the training we buy on behalf of customers received a high level of positive feedback. However, there was no direct correlation between larger organisations or expensive training and a higher quality of feedback. This could be because larger providers offer more generic material while smaller ones tailor their content, which then leads to better feedback.”

In terms of trainer numbers, the market is dominated by almost 8,000 boutique specialists, who account for 65% of the market and for 47% of training market spend.

KnowledgePool analysed data from its TrainerAdvisor database, which contains profiles of the country’s largest 2,400 suppliers that combined are worth 90% of the training market’s total market value. It also drew on the UK Commission for Employment and Skills’ 2011 Employer Skills Survey, which quoted employer expenditure on training to be £49 billion.

Kenrick advised employers to continually benchmark their training provision to ensure they were getting the best return on investment. He added: “Organisations need to be very clear with their providers on what their learning needs are. They should actively compare providers for the best value based on what they get for that cost; it’s not just about price.”

From XpertHR

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