Train for success

A major skills survey of manufacturing companies published today has highlighted the link between the productivity and profitability of manufacturers who not only place a high priority on training but relate their training plan to their strategic business goals.

The survey published in a report Skills for Productivity: can the UK deliver? by EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation is the first of a two part analysis of current and future skills, education and training in UK manufacturing.

It shows widespread acceptance of the link between a more highly skilled workforce and improved performance, with two thirds of companies saying improving productivity was the main reason for increasing training. As a result, over the last year half the companies surveyed had improved their productivity suggesting the gap with their competitors may be closing.

The survey also showed that firms had increased their training spend over the previous twelve months and were planning to do so over the coming twelve months, despite their margins being under intense pressure. The survey showed that companies which place greater importance on business plan than available budget when planning training and target the right types of training across the whole business get more out of their training efforts.

One indicator of such an approach is adoption of the Investors in People Standard – a framework for linking training to the business strategy and communicating this to employees. Of those companies with the Investors in People standard, almost two thirds had seen an improvement in productivity in the last year compared to only 20% without the standard. In addition, just under 30% of companies with IiP had improved their profitability compared to just over 10% without.

The survey also showed wide variation by company size with only 10% of Small and Medium size companies (SMEs) adopting the Standard compared to almost a third of larger companies. These figures suggest there is a renewed need to promote the benefits of Investors in People in the manufacturing sector and to SMEs in particular.

“This report demonstrates that increasing the amount spent on training is not enough on its own to improve performance,” commented EEF Director General, Martin Temple. “The companies that are able to steal a march on their competitors are those with a business culture which clearly aligns their investment in skills and training to their overall business goals.”