Training and developing staff remains an important priority for employers, despite the economic downturn; but budgets are being squeezed and prioritization of management and leadership development is the order of the day, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

Seven in 10 employers say learning and development remains a high priority regardless of the financial situation — while almost half state that their economic/funding situation has worsened (46 percent), only a third (32 percent) say funding for training has been cut this year. A similar number (36 percent) also expect funding to decline next year.

The vast majority (81 percent) of learning, training and development managers in a survey of almost 900 have highlighted the development of management and leadership as the most important skill to embed in U.K. organizations in order to meet business objectives during the recession. Sixty-one percent of those surveyed are investing in new programs to develop the role of line managers to help them deliver effective training.

And despite government’s effort to ensure that skills gained from school, college or university qualifications directly relate to the world of business, 61 percent of respondents highlight business skills/acumen as deficient among this group. Business skills/acumen is also recognized as a key skill to develop in order to meet business objectives in the future.

“The recession is undoubtedly placing pressure on training budgets, but there is no evidence of budgets being slashed indiscriminately,” said Claire McCartney, learning, training and development adviser with the CIPD. “A skilled and motivated workforce will be essential to ensure organizations are well placed to take advantage of the recovery when it comes.

“Our evidence shows that employers recognize this and are doing what they can to ensure skills don’t stagnate despite the tough conditions. The importance of training line managers will also be crucial to building the resilience needed to emerge in good shape for recovery. With training budgets under pressure, they will have a big role to play in ensuring on-the-job learning is delivered and in prioritizing the training needs of their teams.

Chief Learning Officer Magazine