Last updated: 17.03.14

Nearly half of temporary workers forced to pay for own training

Nearly half of all temporary and zero hours contract workers believe that they are given less opportunities to develop their skills and their careers than colleagues and coworkers employed on a permanent basis. 

That is the stark finding of new research commissioned by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES), which also indicated that just 58 per cent - less than three in every five - temporary contract workers receiving training in the last three months had it paid for by their employer, with the rest being forced to pick up the tab themselves.

The figure compares unfavourably to permanent workers, for whom 74 per cent of those receiving training had it paid for by their employer. Among those on flexible contracts facing the situation of having to train themselves, 17 per cent cover the cost with their own money, while five per cent are forced to turn to their families and friends for financial aid.

According to the UKCES, business risk harming the future pipeline of talent into the workforce if they refuse to invest in the training and development of flexible contract workers. In the meantime, however, those workers faced with the financial responsibility of picking up their own training costs will be able to find reasonable prices for online development resources that will allow them to advance along their chosen career course. 

Virtual College supplies a number of vocational courses, having supplied over 180,000 Food Hygiene courses alone - many of which were completed by temporary workers thanks to the low costs, which start from as little as £15 excluding VAT.

Jeremy Anderson, commissioner of the UKCES and chairman of KPMG Europe, was quick to point out the vital role that non-permanent contract workers play in ensuring the economic vitality of the UK.

"Flexible contracts are an essential part of our 24/7 economy and they meet the needs of many workers," he said. "However, we need to ensure that people on them can still access opportunities to develop skills and progress in their careers, particularly young people."

He called for more collaboration among businesses in the best practice of developing staff on flexible contracts so that everyone benefits - "employer and employee alike".