Last updated: 18.11.14

Training integral to success, says BCC

All business, regardless of size and sector, should invest in training their workforce, as this will be a key driver for economic success and improved productivity, according to a new report from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).

The organisation has published further findings from its 2014 'Workforce Survey: Training and Skills' which reveal that 92 per cent of firms have identified a skills shortage among their employees in at least one key competency.

Results from the survey of almost 3,000 UK businesses have identified the most common areas that are being impacted, including leadership and management, planning and organisation, languages, computer literacy and creativity.

The majority of respondents (80 per cent) confirmed plans to invest in training their employees over the next year in order to address the skills gap. Furthermore, 78 per cent strongly agreed with the BCC that training has the potential to be a driver for growth and improved productivity, with this rising to 90 per cent for the biggest businesses polled.

In addition, almost two-fifths (39 per cent) of those surveyed intend to invest more than £500 per employee in external training programmes during the coming 12 months.

The survey also identified the most common barriers businesses are facing to training investment, with 50 per cent citing cost, 31 per cent mentioning freeing up staff to participate and 19 per cent describing the lack of suitable courses as an issue.

Over 70 per cent of those looking for guidance regarding the appropriate training courses have enlisted the help of private providers, while 38 per cent have turned to sector bodies and 35 per cent have contacted further education colleges to source and deliver programmes.

Nora Senior, president of the BCC, said: "Businesses recognise that investing in training can drive higher productivity and increased profits. In addition to specialised training, however, our findings make it clear that investment in leadership and management skills are crucial to enhance strategic thinking, foster innovation and motivate a firm's employees.

"To ensure that even more businesses can invest in training, which in turn will drive higher wages, we need to improve dialogue between firms and the organisations that offer training – so that companies find training that is relevant, cost-effective and a good fit with staff working hours."

Online courses could provide businesses with the solution to the main barriers they are facing, as they are cheaper than traditional classroom-based programmes and provide unparalleled flexibility and accessibility, while also conveying the relevant information to employees.