The dilemma of staff training

PUBLISHED: 11:05 22 March 2007 | UPDATED: 13:54 04 May 2010

Guy Mulley: Director of Employer Consulting at Price Bailey Chartered Accountants.

Guy Mulley: Director of Employer Consulting at Price Bailey Chartered Accountants.

Go on, be honest! You have mixed feelings about staff training. You need staff to update their skills, but you can t really afford for them to be away from work. You want staff to improve their abilities; but you suspect the course spends more time in

Go on, be honest! You have mixed feelings about staff training. You need staff to update their skills, but you can't really afford for them to be away from work. You want staff to improve their abilities; but you suspect the course spends more time in the bar than in the lecture room. It seems like a lot of money, but you don't know how to measure its value. You feel the Government should help, but you don't know where to find out about grants. You spend a lot of time and money training an employee, but then the employee leaves.

You are not alone if you have these mixed feelings. The matter is not helped by the curious lack of joined-up Government thinking on the subject. We have just had the well-intentioned Leitch Review, which concluded that an enormous amount of "upskilling" is required to meet the UK's long term skills needs. It's a subject that Gordon Brown feels strongly about, so it is unlikely that the findings will be ignored. Yet tax policy seems to be at odds with this need for "upskilling". We have the bizarre situation where an employee cannot claim tax relief if he pays for his own training, but if the employer pays it will not be a taxable benefit. This disparity is a real problem where an employer cannot afford to pay for the employee's training, as the NHS will readily admit. Such tax rules send out the wrong message.

Confusing as it may seem, it is not an option for employers to ignore the subject. The newly-introduced Age Discrimination regulations deal specifically with the provision of training and, consequently, more employers are going to have to provide training for more of their employees. At a strategic level, training is nowadays a way of recruiting, retaining and even motivating your staff.

Having a training policy or, better still, a personal development strategy for your people is an essential part of a successful business.

To find out more or to discuss your company's people policies, please contact Guy Mulley, Director for Employer Consulting on 01223 696115 or email the team at employer.consulting@pricebailey.co.uk

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