Whether or not the UK is coming out of recession, it seems that employee training is still ripe for budget cuts. Recent research, commissioned by the e-learning and content provider, IMC (UK) Learning Ltd, shows:


  • 42% of UK organisations cite the indirect cost of training, such as time off work to attend courses, as the biggest barrier to increasing training provision.
  • 32% say that employees in their organisations are too busy working for the survival of the business for organised learning.
  • 43% say switching from classroom to online learning is important for improving training in their organisation.
  • Only 31% of respondents from small and 45% from medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) believe that online learning can help to reduce the overall cost per head of training.
  • Only 43% of respondents from small and 55% from medium-sized organisations believe that online learning introduces flexibility, reducing loss of productivity from training staff.


Dr Dirk Thissen, managing director at IMC (UK) Learning Ltd, commented: “These results highlight that the issue of training is broader than simply the direct cost of training courses. A large number of organisations are involved in e-learning in one form or another (75%), and this seems set to grow as pressure to maintain productivity rises.


“The lack of understanding of the benefits that e-learning can provide SMEs, when it comes to the overall cost of training and flexibility, is both surprising and worrying – particularly in the current economic climate. In a market showing early signs of recovery, it is more important than ever for SMEs to have an appropriately skilled workforce, while maintaining staff productivity, in order to survive and grow.”


For a copy of the research: ‘Barriers to training and learning provision in UK organisations – and how to overcome them’. Is the face of training changing?’, email jonathan.bawden@portfoliocomms.com or call 0207 240 6959.


Comment: Like all research, this study provides causes for both optimism and pessimism. On the one hand, 75% of organisations are using e-learning – which should gladden the hearts of e-learning providers and Towards Maturity’s Laura Overton – but SMEs are still not convinced about e-learning’s value. This has been true since the early days of computer based training, despite periodic Government-inspired projects and propaganda to encourage SMEs to espouse e-learning.


Maybe we should now face reality: SMEs – which, admittedly play a key role in our economy – will never wholeheartedly embrace e-learning, despite anyone’s best endeavours and all the theoretical advantages that should accrue to them if they did so.


E-learning is for large employers. As such, it’s a fairly exclusive club – and one which is likely to become more exclusive in both the current and likely future economic conditions. Let’s embrace and even celebrate that exclusivity, rather than try to flog an SME horse that, if not dead, is still only barely alive to e-learning.