L&D complacency risks UK firms’ competitiveness with global counterparts

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Employers in the UK risk losing talent to organisations in emerging economies if they do not increase investment in learning and development to keep pace with digital transformation.

This is according to learning provider Kineo, part of the City & Guilds Group, which found only half (54%) of UK employers plan to increase their L&D spend over the next 12 months. This is compared with 92% of Indian employers and 78% of Kenyan employers.

Only 13% of UK employees rated the L&D opportunities at their organisation over the past year as “very effective”, compared with 31% in India.

John Yates, group director of corporate learning at City & Guilds Group, commented: “With the workforce becoming increasingly mobile – and the influx of overseas talent crucial to the future of British businesses – UK employers cannot afford complacency. Employers need to listen their workers’ training needs and ensure they continue to focus on upskilling, or they risk losing talent to other markets who are making this a priority.

“Equipping workforces with the skills to succeed in the future is a marathon, not a sprint, but those who overlook the importance of skills investment risk dropping out of the race altogether.”

Two-thirds of UK workers agreed their employer was keeping pace with changing skills needs, which was slightly below than the global average of 71%. However, three-quarters of UK employers were confident they had the skilled staff needed for the next three to five years.

City & Guilds Group said this showed there was a “worrying” gap between the perceptions of employers and employees, that could lead to lower retention rates as employees seek organisations that can better meet their training needs.

Paul Grainger, head of enterprise and innovation for the Department of Education, Practice and Society at the UCL Institute for Education, said: “The foreseeable future is likely to be dominated by emerging digital technologies.  These can help individuals and communities to grow, become more agile, develop skills and network with a wider, global community.

“As these technologies are able to transcend borders, they help organisations and the communities in which they are based to adapt to the evolving needs of the community and the world at large. They support agility. And as workplace change is increasingly rapid, it is likely that those regions actively engaged in emerging markets will be better placed to manage the tensions between flexibility and predictability.”

The Kineo-commissioned survey looked at a global sample of 6,532 employees in companies of 10 or more people and 1,304 employers in organisations with 25 or more employees.

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