Companies lament skills shortage but skimp on worker training

New research from Deloitte LLP shows that more than 54 per cent of companies don't have programmes designed to build skills for future needs.
New research from Deloitte LLP shows that more than 54 per cent of companies don't have programmes designed to build skills for future needs.PHOTO: REUTERS/VASILY FEDOSENKO

SOUTHFIELD, MICHIGAN (BLOOMBERG) - Many companies that complain they can't find qualified workers have only themselves to blame, according to a study of more than 11,000 executives.

New research from Deloitte LLP shows that more than 54 per cent of companies don't have programs designed to build skills for future needs. Only 18 per cent said they support employees who want to seek the training themselves.

At the other end of the career path, only about half of executives surveyed said their firms help older workers transition to new roles. Fifteen per cent see older workers as a barrier to innovation, saying they're blocking the rise of new talent.

Josh Bersin, one of the authors of the report, said many companies are "deer in the headlights, wondering what to do next. People don't know what the skills of the future are at the moment. They're way behind."

With US jobless claims at a 45-year low and the global economy heating up, companies that cut training budgets during the last recession are now scrambling to attract new talent and retain workers.

"The learning and development marketplace always drops during recessions," Bersin said. "Then when everything gets good again they scratch their heads and say, 'Hey, how come we're not doing any training around here and nobody knows what to do?'"

Training can be more cost-effective than many companies realise, Bersin said. It costs about six times more to hire a new worker than it does to retrain and retain an existing employee, and new hires are also more likely to leave.