Training budgets stay firm despite recession pressures

Most employers are maintaining training budgets or even increasing them despite the recession pressures they face, according to an Institute of Directors'(IoD) survey published this week.

The IoD poll of 937 directors found that 51% had maintained and 29% had increased their training spend over the six months to the end of May 2009. The remainder (20%) had cut their training budgets over the same period, and of these, 45% had cut them by 15% or less.

As for the following six-month period to 30 November 2009, 88% of the directors surveyed said their organisations planned to either maintain or increase their training outlay, with only 12% saying they planned to cut it.

Mike Templeman, IoD director general, said: “IoD members are emphasising that maintaining training now will help position their organisations well for the upturn. Many businesses are looking for opportunities in the downturn – the mood is firmly one of innovation and determination, not defeatism.”

The research revealed that among those polled, training spend has held up better than other key areas. It found: the balance of organisations that had increased investment in training less those that reduced it was +9%. The comparative figures for other areas was:

  • Spend on wages and bonuses: +2%
  • Number of staff employed: 0%
  • Outlay on hospitality, events and entertainment: -23%.

Small companies (0-49 employees) were more likely to have increased their training spend. Some 31% had raised expenditure, compared to 24% of medium-sized employers (50-249 employees) and 25% of large ones (more than 250 staff).

Only 14% of directors asked had used the government’s flagship Train to Gain programme and 32% had never heard of it. Of those that had used the service, 70% said they were satisfied or very satisfied. Respondents though criticised Train to Gain for being too bureaucratic. They said they are concerned about the complexity of applying for funding, the effectiveness of brokers, and the uncertainty surrounding funding for the service.

One said: “The government has introduced so much more red tape that we are now having to jump through too many hoops. Even when we decide to utilise government initiatives, we find the level of form filling detrimental to the end benefit – so we give up.”

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