Survey points out demand for more training for contingent workers

Non-permanent staff, such as freelancers, need more training and development, says survey.

Businesswoman presenting


Employers across the UK are overlooking the training and development needs of contingent, non-permanent workers such as freelancers and contractors, according to research by the City & Guilds Group.

The study, conducted amongst 500 employees and 100 employers in the UK – and a further 6000 employees and 1200 employers globally – found that 84% of UK organisations use contingent workers and 35% anticipate that their use of this workforce will increase over the next three to five years.

Though the flexibility afforded by these types of roles is attractive, the research suggests contingent workers are missing out on the training benefits available to permanent employees. It found that one in five (20%) UK employers doesn’t carry out any training with contingent workers – compared to one in 10 for entry level workers – and businesses report the lowest levels of training effectiveness in this group too; a quarter (24%) deem the training for contingent workers ineffective.

The survey also found that contingent workers around the world are the most likely to say that the current training they receive has no impact on their performance at work (24% compared to 19% for workers on permanent contracts). They are also less aware of the purpose and value of training to both themselves and the organisation (18% compared to 23%).

John Yates, Group Director – Corporate Learning at City & Guilds Group, says: “Not only are the skills that businesses need transforming, so is the workforce itself. Contingent working arrangements are on the rise and becoming more important as both employers and employees seek greater flexibility in the face of an uncertain future.

“However, our research shows that current workplace training programmes are not catering to this growing workforce – preventing both individuals and organisations from safeguarding their future. For employers, this is especially dangerous where workers aren’t receiving essential training like on-boarding or compliance – leaving them open to commercial and reputational risk. But it also extends to their broader development; in order for any worker to add the most value to their organisation, their skills need to keep up with the pace of change.

“Organisations that do invest in their contingent workforce will also be more likely to attract high quality workers, and ultimately add more value to the economy by supporting the development of a skilled, productive society.”

Currently, the most common method for developing contingent workers in the UK is on-the-job training (19%). However, the survey found that over a fifth (22%) of British businesses say that improved delivery platforms would help, followed by more self-guided / self-service learning (18%) and a better blend of on- and offline learning (17%). Some 68% of contingent workers say that if they had more direct control over the pace of workplace learning or training they would learn new skills more quickly.

Meanwhile, on another aspect of future working, a survey by Hays found 86 per cent said they embraced the implementation of automation in their workplace, while 73 per cent reported having an open mindset towards digital transformation.

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