Investment in employee training is a "key priority" for businesses in 2022, with small business owners, employees and jobseekers set to benefit, according to new research.
A study from leading training and development organisation DeakinCo, in conjunction with Deloitte Access Economics, found that organisations are planning 19 per cent more training hours for their staff this year than last.
The new study, which surveyed business leaders and HR professionals from over 200 organisations across Australia, also found that 74 per cent of businesses believe Learning & Development became more of an organisational priority due to Covid-19, as skills shortages resulting from the pandemic have made investing in existing employees even more critical.
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Adaptability and flexibility are key in current job market
Yahoo Finance Australia spoke with DeakinCo. CEO Glenn Campbell to find out his views on what this might mean for Australian workers and small business owners in the coming months.
“Employers are telling us that training existing staff is a key priority this year, but they also indicate that they value adaptability and flexibility in their employers more than any other skill,” Campbell said.
According to DeakinCo., every study they have conducted over the last few years (including pre-pandemic), suggests that soft skills are more valued by employers than any technical abilities.
In addition to adaptability and flexibility, other skills that feature prominently in employer wish lists include critical thinking and customer service.
It seems that the adoption of new technologies, which has been turbo-charged by the pandemic due to working from home restrictions, has resulted in soft skills being even more important in the current job market, often underpinning the ability to adapt to new ways of working.
Despite the record low unemployment likely to hit Australian shores in coming months, workers shouldn’t become complacent about their existing skillsets.
“The need to continue up-skilling and re-skilling is more important than ever in the current market,” Campbell commented.
Given the emphasis on up-skilling by employers this year, now would be a great time for career minded individuals to ask their boss about additional training.
But how should you approach it?
“The best way to have that conversation is to be clear on how the training will benefit the business and your performance within it,” Campbell suggested.
It’s sage advice at a time when keeping your skills current is of particular focus.
The lessons for SME owners
So, what should small business owners glean from DeakinCo.’s research?
Although the study was conducted with employers of 200 staff or more, “there are parallels to be drawn with the SME market, suggesting that for every dollar invested, a greater return hits the bottom line”, Campbell points out.
Not only that but the recent incentive announced in the Budget last month makes staff training even more beneficial.
A Budget analysis article by NAB highlighted that, as of July 1st 2022, businesses with a turnover of up to $50 million will be able to deduct an additional 20 per cent of expenditure incurred on external training courses provided to their employees, providing a welcome boost to learning and development in the sector.
In effect, this means that “for every $100 invested by SME businesses in learning & development (L&D), the Government will offer a $130 tax rebate”, Campbell said.
He goes on to explain that it’s not just the amount that is invested that is important, but also the quality of the training chosen that impacts the bottom line most.
“SME employers need to be aware of the pitfalls in leaving the choice of training provider and course to the employee,” Campbell advises, suggesting this scenario is common amongst smaller entities who often don’t have the time to research their options.
Whether you are an employee wanting to build your career, or an entrepreneur looking to grow your small business, learning and development should be a key element of your planning for the coming year.
Both groups should do their research, talk to their industry peers or other business owners, and look to capitalise on the opportunities the training market has thrown up for 2022.