A flexible workforce is key to 21st century businesses success. The UK economy has evolved since the recession and we have seen a new dynamism emerge emphasising employee flexibility. In fact, there has been a more than 20 per cent increase in the number of temporary workers in the past five years. Businesses know success means being able to resource up or down depending on their need at any given time, while employees increasingly seek more flexible working patterns.
Though this new flexibility has its benefits, there is currently a danger that employers are failing to invest adequately in training their temporary workers, creating a serious skills blind-spot in the UK workforce.
YouGov research among business leaders found that 42 per cent of employers see the flexibility afforded by temporary workers as crucial to their business success. However, it’s also apparent that while two thirds of employers (68 per cent) see a strong case for investing in their temporary staff, just four per cent currently provide them with any kind of training.
This investment deficit has resulted in a critical skills gap, which ties directly to the clamour among economists and business leaders about the UK’s low productivity levels. A recent CBI report found that 63 per cent of businesses listed the skills gap as the biggest potential stumbling block to their growth.
The solution is to up-skill our workforce, and as temporary workers become an increasingly crucial component of this, the case is clear for investing in their training.
It is understandable that businesses are reluctant to invest in training temporary staff where there might be a limited return on investment. More must, therefore, be done to find innovative ways to train this sector of the workforce in a way that aligns with business interests.
One such solution is for training organisations to employ the temporary worker for a full year, delivering an apprenticeship through on-the-job training, while the employee moves from host employer to host employer. Support from the Skills Funding Agency means that businesses don’t have to pay a penny for this extra training.
Temps get to hone and develop their skills as they work toward a relevant qualification that will boost their future employment chances, while the scheme benefits businesses as they know they are employing motivated staff who have the skills they require.
The role of temporary workers has increased significantly in the UK’s post-recession flexible economy, and we must respond to these changes by adapting our training methods to fit with the new work-force. Businesses clearly recognise the value in training their flexible workers, but need to be supported by innovative schemes that ensure that training temporary workers is a win-win for both business and employee.