This conflict of evaluating the costs of training and the pressures to reduce training spend tend to lead organisations into treating training costs as an operating expense resulting in a neglect of training (Finegold and Soskice, 1988), a problem Longenecker and Fink (2005), in their study, found that the performance of the firm suffers, creating organisational problems in the short and long run. Longenecker and Fink (2005) gave evidence in their study of 278 managers operating in 16 different functional businesses from top organisations.
They reported 33% of the managers confirmed a reluctance to spend money on training needs which eventually creates problems more expensive than training costs. Also, according to Dumas and Hanchane (2010), there are likelihoods of the individual leaving for another firm; thereby leading to a loss of investment by the employer, this ‘poaching’ risk dissuades firms from training. This further leads to some other reasons for neglecting training which will be discussed broadly in the sections that follow.
In a general manager’s view, according to Longenecker and Fink’s (2005) study, ‘when organisations are serious to improve, they make it a priority resulting to good things… but there are always reasons for failing to properly train which eventually leads to trouble’. Considering the present status in the UK, for instance, the skills system, driven by the needs of the employers and individuals, is crying out for a reform.
Employers are concerned about skill shortages with about half of companies concerned with the overall literacy of the workforce leaving only one-fifth of employers providing remedial training for school leavers. Gilbert (2010). Ben Wilmot, senior policy adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said: “With the economic challenges faced by this country over the next few years, boosting employment and productivity will be crucial – something that will only be achieved if the UK’s people management skills deficit is tackled.
” If employers and employees benefit from training, it is therefore important to understand why few organisations invest in training with individuals following the trend as well. The sections that follow will outline how most related organisational structures and practices have combined to discourage training. In some organisations, they place an over-reliance on on-the-job training, also known as ‘trial-and-error learning and in the process of trying to improve skills needed on the job to lead the operation forward, they tend to ‘shoot-in-the-dark’ (Longenecker and Fink, 2005).
Longenecker and Fink (2005) described this sort of training as being handled in a ‘piece-meal’ or ‘ad-hoc’ manner, preventing firms from developing a first-rate process through a formal/systematic training process. They also identified, in their study that this usually leads to more costly and unpredictable problems when errors are made and an individual learning through such process tends to develop bad habits with a lack of efficiency in ways to deal with issues.
Secondly, in terms of management training, there are interesting points to note for reasons organisations are reluctant to train. Firstly, based on Longenecker and Fink’s (2005) study, training is not viewed as ‘top management priority’ but rather as a ‘nuisance’ or a ‘distraction’ where there are more important needs to attend to; secondly, organisations are not willing to take time out to train, an opportunity, according to their study, managers are willing to embrace if encouraged to do so, provided the activity is perceived to improve career success and get work done easily.
According to their study, they found that this could result in negative consequences in the long-run which might not be recognised initially until serious problems arise, and if realised, efforts to train will be too rushed to be effective. Furthermore, most jobs are designed to be tightly controlled by the firms with a total absence of discretion, responsibility and skills on the part of the employee (Grugulis, 2007), better described by Redman and Wilkinson (2009), citing Pye (1968) as ‘Workmanship of Certainty’ where all decisions are taken from the top and workers are simply required to follow instructions.
When a job requires the individual’s arms and legs, according to an employer interviewed by Dench et al (1999) cited by Grugulis (2007), it is difficult to see how training is required. Training will depend upon an array of tasks they are asked to perform. The call centre is a good illustration, staffs are given a script and calls are tightly timed with intense monitoring and listening by the supervisors and individual performances displayed (Redman and Wilkinson, 2009).
This sort of regulated job design is said to be ‘de-skilling’ for the employees. This in turn implies that workers are paid low wages, a term Finegold and Soskice (1988) describes as ‘low skill equilibrium’. In addition, there have been huge structural changes over the past years, long term shifts in employment from manufacturing to low skill and low quality services (Finegold and Soskice, 1988).
In the US, McDonalds accounts for more employees than the US Steel (Macdonald and Sirianni, 1996). Manufacturing accounts for less than one-third of British employment with a decline in its share in the labour market. The growing employment is in the part-time service sector with jobs that require little or no training Gapper, (1988).
In the retail trade, for instance, Gadrey (2000) describes this kind of jobs as being equivalent to a personnel strategy based on zero competence, qualification, training and career which simply means that it constitutes poorly paid part-time workers with a flexible demand available at short notice. ‘ Although service work also include many of the most highly skilled and knowledgeable workers (medics, IT professionals and teachers), it also covers care workers and personal services far more numerous and outnumbering compared to those of the knowledgeable workers.
(Grugulis, 2007). More so, in a case of organisational restructuring due to increasing efficiency and effectiveness, individuals are assumed to take responsibility for their own learning thereby initiating training needs-especially advanced transferable skills- when a skill gap is detected, in a bid to survive the restructuring process and also to be employable elsewhere (Carbery and Garavan, 2005).
The organisation in this case provide firm-specific skills only relevant to the business on ground. In order words, according to Carbery and Garavan, (2005), employability and self development is perceived to rest solely on the individual which is a source of motivation and willingness to train and learn. This reason and the others that follow explain why individuals themselves are also reluctant to invest in their own training.