This result is hard to reconcile with the rhetoric about knowledge economies and learning organizations. Basically, the state and employers argue that ongoing worker skill development is necessary to maintain economic competitiveness. Consequently, we should see an increase in the amount of training that workers receive.
Yet, until this study, there has been no published research on the volume or quality of worker training. While the training participation rate remained relatively steady, the best estimate available (based on analyzing multiple surveys) is that average training hours per week per employed person in Britain fell from 1.24 in 1997 to 0.69 in 2009—a 44% drop.
So what explains this change? Age, gender and industry don’t seem to matter too much. It appears to be an actual reduction that sits uneasily with the rhetoric about training. The authors posit four potential explanations:
- Employers decreasingly believe training adds value.
- Existing skills levels may be sufficient, especially if (1) workers arrive with more skills than in the past and/or (2) the complexity of many jobs is falling.
- Training has become vastly more efficient over time, so less volume is necessary
- Learning is decreasingly occurring through training.
-- Bob Barnetson