Investing in skills should be your top resolution

Training. Development. Upskilling. Whatever you want to call it, improving the skills of our workforces has to be the top priority for HR in 2007.

Many of you will have seen our special 2 January issue, sponsored by the Sector Skills Development Agency, which offered in-depth analysis of the Leitch Review and what HR can do to implement its recommendations.

Flick through this issue of Personnel Today (9 January 2006), which has experts’ predictions for the year, and you’ll find that training is the answer to many of the challenges that lie ahead.

UK economy being overtaken by China and India? We need to train our people for the long term. Not prepared for the Olympics? We need to assess what skills are needed and train people accordingly. Losing staff hand over fist? We need to invest in their development.

The latter is of particular importance to HR departments, which are reportedly suffering from retention problems. A Celre survey suggests that most of you (91%) are having a tough time hanging on to your best people. This isn’t helped by statistics in press releases that landed on our desks in the first week of January, claiming that a high percentage of workers will be looking for new jobs this month. Great news for recruitment consultancies, but not for those of you trying to run a busy department.

One of the main reasons HR staff move on is a perceived lack of career progression. We often hear from junior HR people who are frustrated at not being given the opportunity to work on bigger, meatier projects. If your HR staff felt they were being nurtured and developed, and given the opportunity to stretch themselves and learn new skills, perhaps they would not feel the need to jump ship.

If training is the answer (and that can be on-the-job experience as well as formal courses), then perhaps investing in skills development in 2007 is one New Year resolution that you actually manage to keep.

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