The Trouble with Training: Why Good Managers are Being Refused the Training They Need

10 April 2017 -


A lack of training for managers can make the difference between maintaining success, and ultimate failure at your company. So why are half of people being rejected training opportunities by their bosses?

Jermaine Haughton

With more than 15 years experience as a gardener, consulting on a number of small and large scale projects across the UK, Ruth Townsend was shocked by the lack of training some of her colleagues have had in recent years.

“On one particular freelance project in Cambridgeshire, I found that even people in more senior positions, as well as junior staff, weren’t nearly as trained as I was,” she said. “From a lack of understanding of how to effectively draw plans, a lack of experience with irrigation systems and even how to safely use equipment.

“Inevitably, the project soon became delayed and costs mounted, and I ended up spending as much time helping my colleagues do their job as I was doing mine.”

Since first learning her trade as an apprentice some years ago, Townsend says she regularly attends new courses and industry conventions to stay on top of the latest trends.  However, when she proposed to employers extra training for staff, her ideas were quickly knocked back.

“I was very surprised,” she said. “My bosses claimed extra training was unnecessary, and very expensive - stating that they did not think it would be value for money.”

Recent research by US training provider The Knowledge Academy suggests Townsend’s experience isn’t unique. The survey of 1,003 US workers found that 47% say their employer has refused them training opportunities in the past. One third of those respondents who had their requests declined believed training would have significantly impacted on their abilities to do their current job.

Furthermore, more than a quarter (26%) of people reported that the training would make them more productive at work.

CMI’s own white paper, Skills First: Connecting employers, further education and training providers, showed that British businesses are struggling to find new recruits with the necessary skills and are then failing to train them adequately.

Based on last July’s Learning Provider conference, the report found that seven in 10 employers are failing to train first-time managers with the skills to succeed in their roles. The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) estimated the cost of poor management and leadership to the UK economy at £19bn a year through lower productivity.

In particular, the lack of development of soft skills for managers was found to be damaging the prospects of many firms. The CMI’s Quality of Working Life survey also found that more open, empowering management styles are connected to lower levels of stress, higher job satisfaction and greater personal productivity than more ‘command and control’ styles.

The most common reason employers gave for declining training requests was a lack of budget and financial restraints. Almost a quarter of respondents to the Knowledge Academy study stated that the cost of providing staff with more extensive training was simply too expensive.

The Knowledge Academy survey also found that one fifth (19%) of respondents said their boss didn’t want them to take time out of the office for training. Even if a staff member is away for just a day, bosses typically report added costs of either hiring staff to cover or having to hand over responsibilities to less experienced staff in their team.

Moreover, 7% of employees were told by bosses that they didn’t feel the development in question was relevant and 5% claimed their boss didn’t feel it would be beneficial.

But Barinder Hothi, Managing Director at The Knowledge Academy, said this approach was ignoring the very real benefits of staff training to business performance.

“It is a real shame that requests for training are not being taken more seriously by employers. This research clearly shows that undertaking relevant training can not only increase workers’ abilities to do their job, but also improve their productivity levels.”

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