Report confirms business case for learning

Learning and development is gaining a higher profile on the corporate
agenda, with 90 per cent of employers admitting that training impacts directly
on the bottom line, and three-quarters believing it should feature in the
annual report.

More than 1,300 public and private sector employers were polled in Cranfield
School of Management’s latest Recruitment Confidence Index (RCI), a quarterly
survey of expected recruitment activity developed with the Daily Telegraph and
published in association with Personnel Today.

The overwhelming majority of employers (91 per cent) predicted their skill
needs will change over the next two years, with 32 per cent describing the
expected changes as ‘major’.

To address those needs, employers came out in favour of in-house
development, and 77 per cent reported that the amount of training they offer
will increase over the next couple of years.

The survey detected a growing relationship between training and recruitment,
with two in three employers including the offer of development as part of the
overall reward and benefits packages they use to attract top talent.

"Organisations have been left with no choice because the labour market
has become a lot tighter," said Emma Parry, research fellow at Cranfield
School of Management. "For the past five years, the RCI has shown that
organisations have difficulty recruiting at middle and senior management level.
The latest survey shows they are beginning to wake up to the importance of
learning and development."

Employees are taking a more strategic approach to development – and
employers are responding, according to Alison Hodgson, UK and Ireland
resourcing manager for catering firm Sodexho.

"All the focus groups we’ve done have shown the top two reasons
graduates come to Sodexho are for career opportunities and learning and
development, so we know it’s critical."

The RCI also found that 74 per cent of employers agreed that the investment
they make in training staff should be included in their annual report. Shaun
Tyson, professor of HR at Cranfield, said: "The annual report is used as a
marketing tool, so it’s not unusual for companies to comment on their training
activities."

But for reporting to be truly meaningful, it must go beyond the
"generalised statements" that are all too often a feature of annual
reports, says Tyson. "The question is, how appropriate is the training or
does it meet some strategic need?" Other findings in the RCI survey
include:

– While 93 per cent of organisations prefer using in-house, on-the-job
training, 72 per cent also use external suppliers

– Only 29 per cent prefer e-learning, and 26 per cent distance learning

– On average, the organisations surveyed spend 5 per cent of the pay bill on
training.

By Margaret Kubicek

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