Number of employees receiving off-the-job training dropped by a third, study finds

The number of employees receiving off-the-job workplace training – which is work-related training that takes people away from their day-to-day job – has fallen by 30 per cent over the past two decades, a new study has found.

This figure, taken from The Resolution Foundation’s 2023 Q1 Labour Market Outlook report, highlighted that just 6.9 per cent of staff received off-the-job learning and development in 2022, down from a figure of 9.8 per cent in 2021

While those in low-paid jobs are still less likely to receive training – Resolution Foundation stats show that only one in 20 lower-paid workers currently receive off-the-job training – this type of learning has declined at a quicker rate over the past 20 years for higher-paid and university graduate workers, narrowing the training gap.

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In 2003, the highest paid workers were 2.4 times as likely to receive training as the lowest paid; a figure which had fallen 1.6 times by 2022.

Similarly, over the same period, workers with a degree went from being two times as likely to receive training than those without a degree to 1.7 times as likely.

However, with lower-paid workers still likely to receive less training, Michelle Parry-Slater, L&D director at Kairos Modern Learning, said more effort needs to be made to make learning opportunities inclusive.

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“By not concentrating learning spend on one learning channel, but embracing a blend of initiatives, learning can more appropriately appeal to those in need across the whole organisation at their point of need,” she said. 

L&D and HR functions can demonstrate the value of learning investment by arming themselves with data and aligning with organisational strategy, she added.

“When L&D can demonstrate the value of learning to issues which matter in a business there’s no need to ‘make an argument’ as a learning organisation will see the benefit and understand without investing in your people, you are moving backwards.”

Separately, Resolution Foundation’s report also found that two decades of minimum wage rise correlated with a growth in training delivered for those paid at the wage floor. 

While separate studies in Germany and Japan suggested that minimum wage rises could have a knock-on impact on training levels, as businesses sought to balance the cost of higher pay by making cuts elsewhere, there is evidence that in the UK, enforced rises in minimum wages have sparked investment in the development of minimum wage workers to raise their productivity.

In 2016, a Resolution Foundation survey of employers found that 15 per cent of firms had increased their training provision in response to the introduction of the national living wage, while 21 per cent planned to do so over the next five years.

Indeed, workers covered by the minimum wage were 12 per cent more likely to receive training between 2011-19 than those earning above the minimum wage.

Hannah Slaughter, senior economist at the Resolution Foundation, said that while this is encouraging, attention needs to be paid to the type of training workers receive, especially as lower-qualified adults are more likely than higher-qualified adults to undergo health and safety training, rather than training designed to boost skills or support career progression.

“Access to the right kind of training is essential for raising workers’ productivity, as well as boosting their career progression and earning power,” she stressed.

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