Just one in three get chance to train at work

New polling from the TUC shows that many employers are falling short when it comes to workplace training, however when unions and employers work together staff can benefit from increased learning opportunities and skills development.

Just one in three workers (33%) say their employer offers regular training opportunities, according to new polling published by the TUC last week. And one in four workers (24%) say that no training is offered at their workplace at all apart from a new starters’ induction.

The poll, of more than 3,000 working adults, shows the problem is worst in the service sector, where just one in four get training opportunities.

White collar workers (social grades A and B) are twice as likely (40% versus 21%) to get training opportunities than in those in blue collar roles (grades D and E). And young workers (18-24 year olds) miss out on training most.

The TUC says employers not helping their workers get new skills is a key factor behind Britain’s productivity crisis. EU employers spend double the amount UK employers do on improving workforce skills and typically have much higher productivity levels. And the OECD warned last month that Britain’s poor skills record was holding down productivity.

However workplaces that have Union Learning Reps (ULRs) are far more likely to support training and skills development of employees. Between April 2016 and March 2017 unionlearn and the Union Learning Fund (ULF) project had supported over 250,000 learners, 137 new learning agreements between employers and unions and 90 new workplace learning centres. Unions have also been working hard to support high quality apprenticeships, over 14,500 were supported by the ULF project alone.

The TUC poll also reveals that many workers feel they are not listened to at work:

  • Two in five (41%) say big changes at their workplaces are driven through without consultation
  • A fifth (21%) say staff suggestions are ignored by management
  • One in five (22%) say management is doing nothing to reduce stress in their workplace

Staff feeling they don’t have a voice at work is also a big problem, according to the TUC. Britain currently ranks 26th (second-last) among EU countries for workers’ participation in companies. Low employee engagement is estimated to cost the economy billions every year in lower productivity.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

Too many people are stuck in jobs where there’s no chance to get on in life. It’s about time managers started to wake up, invest in their workers’ skills and listen to their workers’ opinions. 

Companies that train and listen to their workforces perform better and hold on to talented staff. The TUC’s Great Jobs Agenda sets out what we need to do as a country to make every job a great job.”

Unionlearn Director Kevin Rowan said:

These figures show the problem of employers not supporting workplace learning and skills – but when unions and employers work together there are huge benefits for both sides, and the wider economy.

The work of unionlearn, and the Union Learning Fund, shows the commitment from learners, employers and unions to continue to promote all areas of learning. This demand is supported through unions, learning agreements, learning centres and through the brokering of learning opportunities.”