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Lack of business interest causes training downturn

Lack of business interest causes training downturn

Businesses link the proficiency of their employees to training, yet employers’ use of the vocational education and training (VET) system has decreased. Find out why from the latest results of the NCVER national employer survey.

In the last two years, employers have cut back on training and yet recognise that employees need training to be at their most proficient, according to the latest results of the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) national employer survey.

The survey of more than 9,000 respondents, conducted over February and March 2013, indicated that 4.2% fewer employers were using the VET to fulfil their training needs, with the figure at 51.9% using the vocational system.

Sue Fergusson, NCVER’s General Manager of Research, attributed the decline to slow economic growth and lower business confidence. “In the current economic climate employers need to see the return from their investment in training and therefore may be more critical of the training provided to their employees than in the past,” she said.

This is despite the results also indicating that one in three employers still required a vocational qualification for employment positions they offered. Almost 35% of employers said their employees were below full proficiency, giving reasons such as they had ‘completed only part of their training’ and ‘not received appropriate training’, both of which highlight the continued importance of training.

The survey also showed a decline in satisfaction with training: 78.3% indicated they were satisfied the vocational qualifications ‘provide employees with the skills they require for the job’, a decrease of 6.3%, with other forms of training—including unaccredited/informal; training and apprenticeships—also suffering a fall in satisfaction.

Is training still a good investment?

The numbers aren’t bleak, exactly, but they do tell a story about the diminishing role of training as an investment made by employers versus individuals. Employers now expect new recruits to already possess the skills they need to do the job, a fact supported by the more than one-third of respondents who find it difficult to recruit people, with 51.3% saying it’s because there’s ‘a shortage of skilled people in the industry’.

The results also tell us that training needs to be tailored to the organisation. Two of the three biggest jumps in reasons for dissatisfaction were ‘relevant skills are not taught’ (in 2011, 25.4%; in 2013, 36.3%), and ‘training is too general and not specific enough’ (20.4%; 26%). This suggests that qualifications are not meeting the particular needs of employers, which could indicate that training standards are not moving fast enough to accommodate industry requirements, or perhaps that employers are not enrolling their staff in the right courses either due to lack of requirements analysis or lack of choice.

The largest leap corresponded with respondents indicating ‘training is of a poor quality or low standard’ (39.5% to 54%), which means training is not meeting the expectations of the organisation. Without further data it is difficult to say if there is a disparity between registered training organisations and the quality of the training they provide or whether training standards are slipping as a whole.

Overall there are a few trends we can note from these results:

  • There has been a drop in business investment in training.
  • Individuals may need to make up the shortfall in employer-led training by taking the initiative when it comes to education for professional development.
  • Some of the training on offer does not meet business requirements for quality and content.
  • Training organisations may need to offer tailored programs, or training standards may need to be raised to meet industry satisfaction.

Training may be a good investment for an individual’s career, but it seems businesses are not as prepared to shoulder the cost of upskilling their employees as they were previously.

For full details of the NCVER results, download the 2013 National employer survey.

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