For over 20 years the National Training Awards have highlighted and celebrated the vast amount of excellent training that goes on across the length and breadth of the UK. As such, we are uniquely placed and privileged to be able to accumulate, year-on-year, the most insightful and up-to-date knowledge about what works best in training and vocational learning.
Encouragingly, Further Education invariably plays a very important part, contributing to the success of the many training programmes that are run across the UK today. Colleges that have won a National Training Award in the past have been recognised either directly for developing their own people; or through collaboration with local employers that have achieved business or individual successes as a direct return on training investment.
If colleges are to continue to lead the way in supporting both employers and employees in vocational learning however, a keen and sustained interest in, and understanding of the intrinsic values, motivations and attitudes felt by UK employees will be key.
With this in mind, the National Training Awards, which are run by UK Skills on behalf of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), recently commissioned a research study, which sought to identify specifically how UK employees feel about their careers, their professional development, their employers and the job market in general.
The study, conducted with polling company YouGov, uncovered a number of important findings. Most significantly, vocational training and apprenticeship programme providers will be especially interested to hear that half (50%) of all workers said that that job-related skills and knowledge development training they have received from a past or present employer has been most beneficial in helping them perform well in their job. Whereas less than one-in-five (19%) valued Higher Education as most beneficial in helping them perform well.
Additionally, the research also highlighted that while more than three in four UK workers (76%) said that when looking for a new job the most appealing feature is a competitive salary, less than a third of people (32%) are motivated by money to perform well in their job. The biggest performance motivator, among nearly half (43%) of UK employees, is simply having a passion for the job or organisation where they work. Other key performance motivators identified were personal recognition and praise from management (28%) and an open and relaxed management style (27%).
Interestingly seven in ten workers also said that an employer's commitment to staff training and learning is important in helping them feel valued and 69% said it is important in making them want to work hard. Rather worryingly then comes the statistic that more than one in five (22%) think that training and development programmes in their job have worsened as a result of the economic downturn and only 50% think their employer is committed to developing their skills.
So, what positive learning can we take from all this valuable insight?
We may well have proven beyond reasonable doubt that money really does make the world, and the job market go round (perhaps a little too swiftly at times) but what else can we take from our findings?
Our results really do tell a serious and compelling story to all businesses, organisations and individuals; particularly about how organisational aspects relating to work can impact employee attitudes and motivations. Ultimately we are all driven by a whole host of factors besides money; with management styles and the provision of training and development opportunities proving to be even more important in keeping us motivated, productive and happy at work.
Furthermore, as past winners of the National Training Awards stand testament; there are still plenty of businesses and organisations across the UK, not least in the Further Education field, already committed and continuing to invest in these areas - and achieving success as a direct result!
Anyone who feels that they deserve recognition can still enter this year's National Training Awards up until the closing date on Friday 23 April.
Simon Bartley is chief executive of UK Skills, which champions learning through competitions and awards
Read other FE News articles by Simon Bartley: