06 November 2017
A quarter of UK workers are offered no on-the-job training outside of a basic starters’ induction, a new study by the TUC has revealed.
The issue of workplace training is becoming increasingly important, as experts from across the political spectrum have pointed to low investment in the upskilling of staff as a key factor in the UK’s worryingly low productivity record.
Still languishing at a record low in comparison with our G7 competitors on economic productivity, the UK is at risk of financial instability and poor resilience to global headwinds.
But the TUC’s poll of 3,000 workers showed that despite this urgent need, only 33% receive regular training from their employers and 24% get no training at all, and the problem is worse for those who work in the private sector, are aged between 18 and 24, or are in ‘blue collar’ (grades D and E) roles.
What’s more a huge proportion of workers said their employers did not seek their engagement on major workplace changes, and had not made moves to improve workers’ welfare, potentially damaging morale. The UK currently ranks second to last among EU countries for workers’ participation, which has also been linked to poor productivity.
As many as 41% said big changes had been driven through at their place of work without any consultation with staff, 21% said management ignored workers’ suggestions, and 22% said their employer had made no attempt to reduce workplace stress.
The TUC reported that EU employers spend double the amount of UK employers on upskilling their workforce, and this investment is rewarded by their nations’ typically higher economic productivity.
TUC General Secretary, Frances O’Grady, said: “Companies that train and listen to their workforces perform better and hold on to talented staff.
“The short-sighted approach of too many employers has blighted the UK for years. And it is stifling productivity as we head towards Brexit.”
In our Manifesto for Labour Law – 25 recommendations for reform drafted by 15 leading lawyers and academics – our experts argue that British business culture has been encouraged by the last 35 years of a neoliberal approach to labour law to compete against each other on a race to the bottom on workers’ rights rather than investment in their products, services and staff.
As employment law and trade union rights have gradually been eroded, employers are essentially rewarded for aiming for the lowest possible labour standards and this is driving down productivity across the board.
Our experts recommend a shift in the paradigm of labour law from a reliance on statutory minimums – such as the minimum wage – to the promotion of sectoral collective bargaining, through which trade unions and employers’ associations agree wages, conditions, training, apprenticeships, dispute resolution procedures and much more for entire industries. These standards can then be built upon at enterprise level.
This approach – one which forms the basis of industrial relations in many of the strongest European economies – has the power to improve productivity in three ways: Firstly, by removing the incentive to compete via low pay, and thus encouraging employers to refocus on investment; secondly by providing a structure through which training can be planned and agreed; and thirdly by vastly improving the quality of employee engagement and morale.