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The skills landscape is too confusing

Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce

This blog post is part of the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce’s 2019 Growth Through People campaign. Growth Through People is the annual Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce campaign aiming to help local firms boost productivity through improved leadership and people management skills. Delivered by the GBCC with a range of partners, it includes free training sessions, workshops and events alongside research and thought leadership content. This year, the campaign ran from 25th February – 22nd March 2019. 500 delegates attended 16 free events. Click here to find out more and don’t forget to join the conversation on social media with #GTP19.

In Short:

To boost business productivity through improved leadership and people management capability, stakeholders must develop existing business support to offer independent and reliable information on types of training and available providers.

In Full:

How is the skills landscape too confusing?

“Learning to choose is hard. Learning to choose well is harder. And learning to choose well in a world of unlimited possibilities is harder still, perhaps too hard.” ― Barry Schwartz (The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less)

Trying to decipher recent changes to the UK skills landscape is no small feat, particularly since the introduction of the apprenticeship levy, ongoing apprenticeship reforms, new GSCEs, T-Levels, and more. Quite frankly, the more complicated the system becomes; the less likely businesses are to want to engage with it.

Research conducted during Growth Through People 2019 found that, perhaps unsurprisingly, a lack of budget for training is now the most frequently encountered barrier to increasing investment in leadership and/or people management skills and training, and a believed lack of staff time remains a barrier to investment in training.

However, possibly most interesting was that 23% of respondents cited uncertainty over what training is needed as a barrier to investment in leadership and/or people management skills and training, making it the third most frequent barrier. Comparatively, just 16% of businesses encountered this issue in 2018.

As we know, training is important, including for staff retention. Deloitte’s 2019 Global Millennial Survey indicates that 28% of millennials and 27% of Gen Z plan to leave their current organisations in the next two years due to a lack of learning and development opportunities. (source)

26% of 2019 respondents identified that easier access to reliable information on high quality providers would incentivise their organisation to invest more in leadership and/or people management related skills and training, and 24% said the same of easier access to reliable information on the types of training required/available for their needs.

What does this mean?

With businesses increasingly reporting uncertainty over what training is needed as a barrier to investment in leadership and/or people management skills and training, and asking for access to reliable information on high-quality training providers, stakeholders need to develop existing business support to offer independent and reliable information on types of training and available providers.

With the convoluted state of the skills landscape as it is, it’s probably not surprising to see that businesses don’t know what training they need, or who they should pay to deliver it.

However, the increased frequency of this uncertainty as to training and providers is concerning.

I discussed in a separate Growth Through People blog the importance of policy makers regarding the bolstering of leadership and people management skills within business as a key part of mitigating the impact of a potentially disorderly Brexit. Developing existing business support to offer independent and reliable information on types of training and available providers would be enormously impactful: boosting leadership and people management capability, and over time, productivity, in a significant proportion of businesses.

Because, where organisations do feel confident enough in finding relevant training and a suitable provider, those training providers and other specialist third-party organisations used are highly effective in addressing leadership and people management challenges.

30% of Growth Through People 2019 respondents reported using training designed and/or delivered by a third-party organisation to address leadership and people management challenges in their organisation. 15% identified the employment by their organisation of external change management consultancy service(s) to address such challenges.

These were equally ranked as highly successful interventions.

Emily Stubbs
Policy and Patron Advisor
Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce