Thursday, September 4th, 2003

With recent mention in the media of the increase in the rest of Europe in flexibility in the workforce versus skills lags in the UK, the emphasis in the August survey was on skills and externally sourced training.

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  • About the respondents

    169 respondents were drawn with the following population characteristics:

    Production & Manufacturing Distribution Services Total
    30.2% 7.7% 62.1% 100.0%

    Turnover ()
    < 1 M 1M-3M >3M Total
    69.8% 17.8% 12.4% 100.0%

    Number of Full-time Employees
    1-10 11-20 21-50 51-100 100+ Grand Total
    54.4% 34.3% 5.9% 2.4% 3.0% 100.0%

  • 1. Many smaller businesses are finding lower levels of interest from young people and only just over 1/5 of respondents are attracting a sufficient number of youngsters, while nearly 40% do not attract enough applicants to their particular industry.

  • We asked about shortages of Key Skills and Technical Skills and the results are presented in comparison with the results from the August Business Advisors Barometer Survey. The Business Advisors were asked how much their clients' businesses were constrained by these shortages.

    2. In the case of Key Skills, UKBB respondents appear more confident, with 72% saying they were somewhat, slightly or not at all constrained, while UKBAB respondents think their clients' businesses are more constrained by these shortages, with only 53% of responses in this range.

  • 3. For Technical Skills, UKBB respondents appear a little less confident than with Key Skills, with 63% saying they were somewhat, slightly or not at all constrained, and the results from the UKBAB were closer to the UKBB, with 59% of responses in the range.

  • 4. A large majority of respondents consider regular training is important to success in their business, with 79% responding '1 very important' or '2' (important). The results from the Business Advisors survey indicate that businesses with which they deal are sketchier in actually carrying out regular training, with only 14% of respondents believing that most or substantially most of their clients do so.


    5. Less than 19% of respondents feel very well or well informed about government support or initiatives for training, although 21% feel they have some information, but 19% are not at all informed about this. On the other hand, 70% of Business Advisors responding to the UKBAB feel highly or reasonably aware, but with 5% not at all aware.


  • 6. A necessary condition for training to be undertaken is that employers feel it is worth their while. Respondents gave a mixed response to this, with 24% saying 'always' or 'mostly' and 36% saying 'sometimes', but with 30% saying 'rarely' or 'not at all'. The UKBAB asked if the return on investment was sufficient to persuade clients to participate.

  • 7. Although 30% of respondents say that they use externally provided training less than once a year, 45% say they use it six monthly or more frequently.

    8. In terms of types of training, more UKBB respondents selected training in Sales and Marketing than the other options, although Management and IT were level second. UKBAB respondents were in favour of Management and Sales and Marketing training for their clients, in almost equal numbers, and much fewer from UKBAB thought that none of these types of training were needed. .

    9. Cost scored 30% of respondents' votes as the main reason for not using external training. This was followed by Lost working hours and then Quality. There were more votes by UKBAB respondents for Lost working hours, and then Cost as the principal adverse factors for their clients.

    10. There were two questions on web-based study, the first on awareness of its existence, and the second on whether respondents actually use it themselves. On awareness, it seems that 52% are aware at least to some moderate degree, but 48% are either not at all aware or hardly aware. 72% would use web-based learning less than once a year.


    11. Government is reviewing future funding for some volunteering organisations, and the Experience Corps, aimed specifically at utilising mature experience, will have to raise its own funds after March 2004. There is clearly a role for these volunteers, as 30% of respondents would value them highly or moderately highly, although 20% would not welcome their help at all. 64% of the respondents to the UKBAB reported that at least 1% of their clients already have volunteer mature business people as mentors, while 2% of UKBAB respondents find that at least 50% of their clients benefit in this way.


    Listed below are extracts from feedback received in Survey BB63 August 2003.

    Comments are listed under sector headings.

    Views expressed are those of individual panellists and may not represent those of the University.

    Production and Manufacturing

  • Our business is constrained more by manual skills e.g. patternmakers, laminators etc.

  • By not welcoming the mature volunteer force it does not mean that it is not a good idea, it would be very good for a small business lacking a specific expertise. .

    Business Services

  • I have two areas of business that I am responsible for - Changes and Code of Ethics within the marketplace. I feel that there should be more emphasis put on these fields. With this in mind I have had to develop training courses relevant to these topics.


  • There appear to be many training grants available at the moment. How do businesses generally perceive the availability or effectiveness of grants and what other areas of funding would be beneficial.