Impact of recession on learning and development

The recession has had a negative impact on learning and development for more than half of employers, according to a survey by Personnel Today‘s paid-for sister service XpertHR.

The poll of 78 employers – covering a combined workforce of more than 950,000 staff – found that the downturn had adversely affected the learning and development strategy of 59% of the organisations surveyed.

Two-thirds of these responded by reducing their training spend, with 63% having to cut back on learning and development, 30% reducing in-house training, and 24% seeing training output reduced. However, 65% of organisations have stepped up their efforts to develop employee skills and competencies in the face of the downturn, often with reduced resources.

Ninety-five per cent said aligning employee skills with business goals was a major concern when planning learning and development activities. Other major influences included improving competence and technical skills (83%); upgrading line managers’ people management skills (82%); and establishing effective leadership (78%) (see chart, right).

Almost three-fifths (59%) have had to reassess their training methods in a bid to minimise costs, while 20% have embarked on an employee retraining exercise to aid redeployment in their organisation. The median training spend per employee was found to be £334.

In terms of the types of training activities used, the most common method for executives and directors was the use of external, one-off conferences and seminars (81%), followed by coaching and mentoring by external practitioners (60%), and help from colleagues (56%). But in terms of effectiveness, coaching was the clear winner, cited by 45% of respondents. It is also becoming an increasingly popular development method for managers, used by 65%.

For non-managerial staff, on-the-job training was the most popular method (94%), followed by informal help from colleagues (94%), and in-house classroom-style training (92%).

Predictions for the next expenditure review were gloomy, with 32% expecting training spend to fall (compared with 16% in 2007), and 18% anticipating a rise (compared with 39% in 2007). Forty-three per cent believed their training budget would remain the same.

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