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Employees value on-the-job training above all else

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Employees rate on-the-job learning more highly than more formalised training and qualifications, according to new research.

A study by the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) in conjunction with the University of Leicester found that 90% of employees said they had picked up their skills on the job.

Over half of employees felt that learning by doing was the most effective means of improving work performance, and advice, understanding, coaching and counselling from line managers emerged as keys to the development of effective and productive staff.

The research, Better Learning, Better Performance, discovered that one in four employees reported that training courses were of little or no value in improving work performance and around one in three thought that studying for qualifications had not helped them at work.

However, Anne Hansen, development officer for workplace learning at NIACE, cautioned that the study only at employees’ perceptions of learning to do their immediate jobs. Formal qualifications and vocational training would be important for getting a job in the first place and future career progression, she said.

“What is really useful about this report is the importance workers attach to their relationship with their managers,” Hansen added. “It shows that supportive managers who spend time advising and coaching their staff ensure that their employees are more effective than when management is more directive and controlling.”

Professor Alan Felstead, co-author of the report said: “Going on training courses and getting qualifications lay the foundations for initial competence at work, but improved performance is more reliant on doing the job and learning from others.

“The government has put a great deal of investment in raising training and increasing the qualifications stock of the UK workforce in a bid to close the productivity gap with competitor nations. While this is necessary, the results of the NIACE survey suggest that the most effective route to enhanced performance lies in improved relations within the workplace.”

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Annie Hayes

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