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Australians say more training vital to remain competitive in job market

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Even in the face of economic recession, the importance of training and skills development has been highlighted by a recent international workplace survey that shows more than three quarters of Australian respondents believe their current skills will be outdated within five years.  

The survey, by global workforce solutions organisation Kelly Services , finds that almost half of the respondents believe the training currently provided by their employers will not meet their future career needs.    

The Kelly Global Workforce Index obtained the views of nearly 100,000 people in 34 countries including more than 13,000 in Australia.  

Kelly Services Managing Director, James Bowmer, said that in an increasingly competitive global economy, investing in vital human capital can become a key competitive advantage for firms. “Training may not seem a priority in the present economic climate, but organisations that devote the resources will be more likely to see higher productivity and profitability in the future,” Bowmer said.  

The survey highlights the significance that employees across the generational age groups place on training and skills development to sustain them in a rapidly changing labour market.  

Among the key findings of the survey:   

  • Baby boomers (aged 48-65) are most worried about the level of training, with 59 per cent saying it is not sufficient to upgrade skills and advance their career. 
  • 83 per cent of Gen X (aged 30-47) say that within the next five years their skills will need to be upgraded to keep pace with changes in the workplace. 
  • 73 per cent of Gen Y (aged 18-29) see the provision of training as a joint responsibility between the employer and employee. 
  • On-the-job training is the preferred form of training nominated by employees. 
  • Human resource professionals come under scrutiny, with almost half of all respondents saying their HR department has not helped them to achieve their employment goals.  

Across generations, women generally are more concerned than men about their skill set and have a higher expectation of their employers’ HR departments in managing their careers.   

Among respondents, almost three quarters (74 per cent) say that training should be a joint responsibility between an employer and employee.  The preference among those surveyed is for on-the-job training (48 per cent), followed by professional development courses (31 per cent), self-initiated learning (11 per cent) and formal university or college qualifications (10 per cent).  

Mr Bowmer said the findings reveal the depth of concern across the population at the capacity of the current skills base to meet new workforce challenges.  

“The current economic environment has made people very aware of their skills and whether they will be sufficient to survive the recession and beyond, into a period of economic recovery,” Bowmer said.  

“It is only very recently that we faced skills shortages across many industries, and unless skills and training are enhanced, that situation may occur in the future.  Increased competition for jobs combined with technological change makes it vital that employees are assisted to become even more productive, through the best training possible,” Bowmer said.

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