From education to employment



With businesses across the UK facing rising costs and an impending recession, investing in a workforce’s learning and development may not seem like it should be a top priority – but it absolutely should be, writes Natasha Lee, Business Education Specialist at Open Study College.

Companies are understandably looking to cut costs and mitigate risks wherever possible, which may include cutting back or freezing recruitment – despite the known labour and skills shortage. A current emerging trend among business owners is doing everything possible to retain existing staff and their skill sets, ensuring that valuable employees don’t look elsewhere for opportunities.

Simply put, it’s all about a L.I.E. – Learning Is Earning.

If you don’t create a learning culture, someone else will; your values will go out the window and you’re not investing in your most valuable asset – your people.

So what are the benefits of supporting your employees’ careers?

  • It demonstrates that you care
  • Supports their progression
  • Help you attract and retain the best talent
  • You will develop a first-class, credible reputation
  • Make sure CPD and ongoing learning are part of your employees’ journey
  • If you don’t look after your staff, someone else will!

Invest in learning, and the rewards are numerous: you end up with a solid workforce; save on recruitment costs; and that wider knowledge base means you’ll benefit from different views, innovative ideas and a sense of a wider teamwork environment.

What’s more, learning and development helps improve your team’s wellbeing: improves their mental health; gives them a sense of purpose and positive attitude, confidence and renewed motivation; and helps to improve their decision making.

In terms of employees, people will be looking at all sorts of ways to boost their current income, preparing for the tough months ahead as well as ways to work flexibly and remotely where possible to keep from commuting to keep child care costs to an absolute minimum.  

According to LinkedIn’s ‘2022 Global Trends Report’, as a result of the pandemic and the current climate, upskilling and career mobility are two main priorities for employees wanting to feel more secure and supported in their current roles. 

At Open Study College, we recently explored ‘developing a learning culture’ as a key topic during a speaker opportunity at The Retrain Expo at London’s ExCel. 

Developing a positive learning culture within organisations has never been more important. Research has revealed that 78% of workers said they want to learn something new – a statistic businesses can’t afford to ignore. Supporting an individual’s learning transformation and allowing this knowledge to shape strategy and process will be integral to the success of a business in 2023 and beyond.

Conducting a skills gap analysis and identifying areas of weakness and improvement in the business is the first step in the journey to creating a talented and happy workforce. From there, making sure that ongoing learning and continuing professional development (CPD) is a top priority will not only demonstrate that you care and support career progression, but it will also ensure that as a business you build a credible reputation in your industry and in turn attract and retain the best talent.

The financials back this up; the average cost of recruiting one person is £5,000, whereas half of that amount can be used towards a Learning & Development programme, which as a result could mean more shared knowledge within the organisation and even the ability to bring key services that business owners might currently outsource in-house saving time and money in the long run. 

Earlier this year, Open Study College announced the launch of its B2B (business-to-business) arm, supporting businesses to upskill and retrain their workforce in an affordable and flexible way. Its solution offers more than 700 knowledge-based courses and accredited qualifications available across a variety of subjects. Businesses also benefit from a bespoke pricing and payment structure, with corporate discounts to organisations both in the private and public sector of any size that are looking to invest in the professional development of their teams.

The demand for distance learning is greater than ever before, particularly as we become more accustomed to digital solutions and a better work-life balance. Exploring this route to upskilling and retraining is a realistic way of creating a learning culture with little impact on productivity as it takes ‘location’ out of studying which helps combat time and restrictions for both employees and employers alike.

Ignore investing in your employees at your peril – and face learning a tough lesson which could prove costly.

So, what should be your next steps on this learning journey?

  • Create a bookshelf and keep it open to employees to add to
  • Conduct a skills gap analysis on your current team
  • Consider the services you outsource and what you’d love to bring in-house
  • Explore training options that make learning easier for your employees such as
  • distance learning
  • Find out what your staff want! Try asking what their goals are for the next six months to a year in appraisals and taking actions from there

Good luck!

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