SMEs are central to solving the UK’s productivity conundrum, according to the Open University. The publication of the most recent ONS productivity stats reveal that UK productivity is trailing 17 per cent behind an extrapolation based on pre-downturn trends. Most experts agree the most effective way of tackling that is to improve staff training and development to improve skills among the existing workforce as well as those just joining the world of work.
As a result, the OU believes that smaller businesses must take centre stage to drive through improvements in the UK’s working output rate. But to achieve that, SMEs must be given support to deliver the right training and development to their employees.
Steve Hill, Director of External Engagement at The Open University, comments: “Most leaders would easily agree that employees are the biggest asset their company has, with the most potential to transform their business outcomes. Yet it’s often the case that larger businesses are relying on technology to improve their output levels. Instead it’s Britain’s smaller companies who are aware that people will always be key to productivity.
‘Investing in training can be a difficult path’
“Despite their recognition of its value, I hear from a lot of smaller firms who express that investing in training can still represent a difficult path. What’s most important moving forward is that these businesses understand how to access the training they need in a form that will contribute to their overall productivity.
“Advancements in educational technologies have transformed the value of training for small businesses. These firms often find the time commitment involved in traditional forms of training simply does not fit with their business set-up. The flexibility of online and mobile learning has already significantly altered the structure of training so that it can fit with different organisational needs.
“Now, the opportunity to apply data analytics to these programmes promises to deliver greater returns on learning and development than ever before.”
The OU’s intervention comes days after the publication of BIS’s major new report into the provision of technical education which called for the scrapping of of nearly 20,000 existing courses in favour of 15 new strands.