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UK workers ‘bored and disinterested’ with workplace learning

26 Jun 2019 By Jonathan Owen

Employers need to help workers learn ‘on their own terms’, as seven in 10 say training content is not exciting or engaging

Boring and uninspiring content is prompting the majority of UK workers to disengage with workplace learning, new research warns today, with experts stressing the importance of line managers in preparing staff for training.

A poll of UK employees, commissioned by City & Guilds Group, found 69 per cent of respondents complained training content was not always exciting or engaging, a sign that they were “bored and disinterested”.

The majority (80 per cent) of employees surveyed said their organisation had attempted to improve their skillset and employability during the past year, but just 13 per cent would rate the L&D opportunities they were given as very effective.

Less than a quarter (21 per cent) said they felt very well equipped to do their job to the best possible standard.


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The survey polled 500 employees and 100 employers in the UK and was conducted by research company Vitreous World in April.

John Yates, group director, corporate learning at City & Guilds Group, said that while employers were making concerted efforts to upskill their workforce, current training might not be hitting the mark.

“Our findings clearly show that employees in the UK are crying out for new ways to learn and train that truly cater to their individual interests and career paths,” he said.

Yates added that providing a budget for training was just the first step, and that employers would not see a real return on investment until training and learning was responsive to the expectations of the workforce and “fully accessible to all”.

“Employers need to deliver training in a way that makes it easier for employees to learn on their own terms, fitting around their schedules by harnessing technologies that enable a ‘Netflix-style’ experience of L&D,” he said.

The survey found employees wanted to see higher quality content that was more engaging and personalised, as well as the introduction of shorter ‘micro-style’ learning.

It found that the majority of businesses were confident they had the budgets (81 per cent) and resources (82 per cent) to invest in staff training.

However, the research highlighted that organisations still needed to make it far more accessible, with eight in 10 employees finding it difficult to access L&D.

Employees were also not motivated to seek training themselves, with less than half of respondents choosing to undertake learning in their own time (43 per cent) or seeking e-learning solutions or online advice (46 per cent).

The figures comes after People Management reported that more than half of UK workers believed finding the right skills would be one of the biggest issues faced by their employer this year.

Ed Griffin, director of HR consultancy and research at the Institute for Employment Studies, told People Management there was a wider issue when it came to workplace learning. 

“One of the constant issues I’ve seen in organisations is that line managers don’t prepare staff for training and don’t follow up afterwards, so the expectations staff have of the benefits of training are often not met because their line managers aren’t looking for an opportunity for recently trained staff to apply their newly developed skills or knowledge.”

He added: “Within training and development, as with other parts of HR, there’s been a focus on trends and fads at times rather than having clear evidence why something is important and the benefit it will bring.”

Candice Gardner, education manager at skincare company Dermalogica, said: “There is a constant battle between being broad enough to reach as many people as possible with education, and yet making sure learning is personalised enough to be effective.

“You aren’t going to get it right every time, but successful educational experiences come down to nailing the human connection – authentic trainers delivering content that has real personal relevance or worth to the individual.”

Jen Southern, people scientist at Hive HR, said: “The modern workforce – particularly the younger demographic – expects employers to provide a much more individual approach to learning and development, which can be really challenging for organisations as they try to meet the demands of all their people.”

In an indication of the wider challenges in upskilling employees, a separate study by Capita Resourcing today found almost half (46 per cent) of UK organisations rely on gut instinct rather than actual data when it comes to assessing skills needs.

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