Training Trends in Greater Manchester
By Tolu Ojutiku - Research Intern at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce
The widely established benefits of employee training have led to a significant amount of research into employee training trends in the UK. However, less is known about the performance of Greater Manchester (GM) with regards to employee training. To gain a comprehensive understanding of this, multiple indicators of employee training have been analysed to avoid a misleading picture.
Firstly, we considered the proportion of people trained as a share of the total workforce over the past decade and found that the average level of work-related training in the GM region was lower than the national average. The 2019 Employer Skills Survey (ESS) supports this finding, revealing that the percentage of employees receiving training in GM (57%) was lower than the national percentage (60%). However, Figure 1 demonstrates a significant increase in training levels since 2020 and as of 2022, the figure had risen close to 2016 levels, which may suggest a positive trajectory moving forward.
Figure 1: Trend of Training Levels in GM and England
The quality of training that employees receive is another critical concern, as participation in training does not guarantee good-quality training. Additionally, participation in certain types of training, such as employee inductions or health and safety training, may not lead to significant upskilling. One quantitative indicator of training quality is the extent to which training is certified . Between 2011 and 2019, the proportion of Greater Manchester employers reporting that employees undertook training that resulted in recognised qualifications declined. The trend of training exclusively focused on health and safety is less clear, but the decline in nationally recognised certification training indicates a decrease in training specifically aimed at upskilling employees, which is essential for fostering innovation and productivity.
Figure 2: Quality of Training in Greater Manchester
Source: ESS (2011-2019)
Another indicator of GM's training performance would involve quantifying how much GM businesses invest in training their employees. We adopted a unique methodology for this analysis and an examination of the level of business investment in training as a share of total business investment in GM reveals a concerning trend. Our findings indicate a consistent decline in the allocation of funds for training within Greater Manchester and across the wider United Kingdom. In GM, it declined from 20% of total business investment in 2011, to 13% of business investment in 2019. This decline can be attributed to the substantial growth in capital investment by businesses during this period, while resources allocated to staff training remained relatively stagnant.
Despite the clear evidence of Greater Manchester's underperformance in training, a nuanced perspective emerges when examining training levels across different local authorities within GM. Notably, the performance of Manchester, Stockport, and Trafford significantly exceed both the GM and national averages, as shown in Figure 4. Interestingly, the local authorities with the lowest training performance—Oldham, Wigan, and Rochdale—also exhibit the lowest levels of labour productivity within Greater Manchester (refer to Figure 5). This observation suggests a possible association between productivity and training performance, as supported by previous research.
Figure 3: Business Investment in Training
Figure 4: Performance of Local Authorities in Greater Manchester
Figure 5: Labour Productivity and Training Level*
*Plotted based on the average training levels and average GVA per hour between 2011 and 2021.
In summary, Greater Manchester faces a significant challenge in addressing lower training levels, declining training quality, and insufficient business investment in training. These findings align with the results from our surveys conducted for the Local Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP). The low levels of investment in training align with employers perceiving skills shortages as a problem associated with recruitment rather than their existing staff, which explains why employers may see no reason to invest in employee training. However, research consistently suggests that staff training significantly improves staff productivity. The current context calls for renewed commitment from employers and policymakers to prioritise staff training and development as crucial drivers of organisational success, labour productivity, and sustainable economic growth in Greater Manchester.
To listen to Tolu's podcast about employee training trends in Greater Manchester, click here.
To find out more about our research conducted as part of the Local Skills Improvement Plan for Greater Manchester, contact our team via firstname.lastname@example.org.