Barely a week goes by without reports of an escalating skills shortage in the UK.

In the face of socioeconomic uncertainty and rapid technological advances transforming the workforce, it is critical that businesses focus on upskilling their talent and supporting their people as they navigate unstoppable change.

It’s therefore worrying that research from City & Guilds Group found a third of UK workers did not receive any workplace training last year.

Whilst employers are forced to contend with an extensive range of challenges – not least in the form of stretching sales targets and rising operating costs – the urgent L&D needs of their workforce must also be prioritised.

Encouraging businesses to put skills development at the top of their agenda is part of the reason behind the Princess Royal Training Awards (PRTAs).

As employers become increasingly accountable for building and evolving an effective workforce, we wanted to create a prestigious award that would recognise the impact organisations that invest in genuinely impactful staff training are having – not only on their own businesses, but on society as a whole.

The quality of applications in 2019, our fourth awards cycle, was phenomenal, with employers of all sizes and across all sectors applying. Our hope as we enter our fifth year of the PRTAs is that others will draw inspiration from previous recipients, share best practice and ideas that will help prepare the workforce for the future, whatever it looks like.

The training shaping L&D and the businesses championing it

This year’s 48 recipients included public and private sector businesses of all sizes, spanning a wide range of industries. Whether they came from financial services, healthcare, retail, non-profit or manufacturing, training programmes across the spectrum of businesses had a number of shared trends.

One noticeable pattern was the investment in leadership training, as seen with industrial conglomerate Bouygues Energies and Scotland’s leading bank RBS. Both companies reported to have seen improved business performance from an initiative which sought to develop a strong managerial culture and took creative approaches to doing so. Bouygues, for example, turned assessment into a Dragon’s Den style simulation, inviting teams to practice presenting business proposals.

There was also a noticeable trend towards employee well-being and welfare focused training. Gateshead College and Walker Construction developed an innovative and multifaceted approach to mental health training as a response to large numbers of employees signing off with stress-related illnesses. Whilst Gateshead College invested in 15 Mental Health Champions and wider mental health training for their staff, Walker Construction offered free counselling support to all employees as well as their families.

These recipients highlight how important it is to recognise the value that comes from investing in people. Their ingenuity and dedication to the programmes they’re running has led to noticeable improvements in productivity, staff skill levels, recruitment and employee retention. They prove the value that L&D can have, particularly when preparing their businesses for the future.

The world is changing – and L&D is too

There are a multitude of business benefits for organisations who offer upskilling and reskilling opportunities. But employers need to ensure any training programmes that are offered are as engaging and impactful as possible.

As demonstrated by the recipients of this year’s awards, we can no longer rely on traditional static training structures. It is imperative that employers and employees work together to adapt their training to fit the needs of the workplace and its workers – when it comes to training, there is no ‘one size fits all’.

And we can’t afford to rest on our laurels. Businesses need to take action now in order to keep up with the rapid pace of change. The PRTAs have demonstrated the myriad of ways in which businesses can invest in their workforce to develop the capabilities that are required moving forward. When it comes to upskilling, there is no short-term solution – but businesses that prioritise building effective training programmes now are certain to see the benefit in the years to come.

Interested in applying, discovering past winners or learning about the process to securing the royal stamp of approval?

Register your interest on our site or attend a workshop, we’re hosting them all over the UK

Sally Eley, Group Director at City & Guilds Group

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