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Employee training side-lined for red-tape compliance

Small businesses are turning to more affordable training solutions to ease resources stretched by red-tape compliance, according to research from the Forum of Private Business (FPB).

Guidance for employees on Government regulations is also overshadowing other training opportunities, the FPB's latest training and skills member panel survey found.

Chief executive for the FPB Phil Orford said its research suggests a disproportionate amount of company resources are being spent on regulation training rather than staff development.

While three out of five employers included regulatory compliance in their training budget, less than half prioritise replacing specific skills when employees leave a business, or focus on continuing their personal development. A smaller number (41 per cent) budget for 'efficiency training' designed to improve productivity.

Orford said: "Employees are hired because their skills and experiences are essential in driving firms forward, and training is an important part of this process, but despite sourcing low-cost alternatives many business owners are being forced to spend valuable training time and money on ensuring they comply with regulations, or are simply not recruiting at all."

While a third of panellists believe that the training and skills environment has improved in recent months, 61 per cent said the biggest barrier to providing better training for their employees was cost.

"For the sake of small businesses and the economy, it is important that small businesses are able to access the right training for their staff at the right price," he added.

Just under half (48 per cent) of firms are recruiting supplier training as the most popular form of training, while 41 per cent have received training from public sector bodies such as colleges and local authorities.

Elsewhere, 38 per cent enlist the services from trusted advisers such as accountants, more than one in three use guides and handbooks, one in four use 'DIY' training such as industry tips, and 14 per cent analyse their competitors.

While it welcomed Government apprenticeship schemes to boost employee skill levels, the FPB said more should be done to free firms from unnecessary burdens that are threatening training and, in turn, economic growth.

With many respondents saying the level of funding for training and apprenticeships is too low, the FPB also want the Government to continue to invest in its apprenticeship programme, make moves to better equip school leavers with employability skills and forge better links between education authorities and local businesses.