Engineering firms have cut back on hiring training staff in a further sign that the recession is biting.
The number of manufacturers placing job advertisements for trainers fell by almost 30% in the first three months of this year, according to research by Salary Survey Publications. A total of 459 jobs were advertised, compared with 643 for the same three months in 1998.
The drop is more marked than in any other sector of the economy and follows a three-year boom in the hiring of training staff in engineering.
Employers’ bodies said the figures were a sign that manufacturers were becoming more innovative in the way they delivered training, not that budgets were being cut.
`We have got lots of evidence that engineering firms are still taking on people and still training. Normally we are the ones who hear that firms are cutting back but we have not heard that,’ said Ann Bailey, head of education and training affairs at the Engineering Employers’ Federation.
`I would suggest that companies are looking at how they provide training opportunities and are probably looking at coaching and mentoring.’
A spokeswoman for the Engineering and Marine Training Authority (EMTA) agreed that the figures were probably triggered by the recession. But she added that existing shopfloor staff are increasingly providing training, particularly National Vocational Qualifications, and this could account for the drop.
`In the past, when push came to shove, training used to be cut, but that is not so much the case now because companies have been bitten back by skill shortages when things have picked up again,’ she said. `There is a push towards multi-skilling and flexible working. Firms are expecting more from existing staff and are delegating training to those who are already on board.’
EMTA has just sent 10,000 questionnaires to engineering firms for the second people skills scoreboard, which assesses training provision in the sector. Results are expected in August.
John Robinson writes for Personnel Today magazine