The Impact of the 2008-9 Recession on the Extent, Form and Patterns of Training at Work


This paper presents first findings from a quantitative and qualitative enquiry into how training has been affected by the recent recession in Britain. Contrary to pessimistic projections in the early stages of the recession, only a minority of employers cut expenditure and coverage in the course of 2009. Training participation had been falling slowly since the early part of the decade and this fall did not generally accelerate during the recession, though with youth unemployment increasing, there was a substantial fall during 2009 in the numbers reporting that they were engaged in apprenticeship. ‘Training floors’ – including compliance with legal requirements, meeting operational needs, countering skills shortages, addressing market competition, fulfilling managerial commitments and satisfying customer demands – were the reasons that the fall in the general training participation rate did not accelerate. Yet, many employers report that they were induced by the recession to find ways of ‘training smarter’ – focussing their training on business needs, increasing in-house provision, drawing on members of the regular workforce to deliver training, renegotiating relationships with external trainers, increasing the use of on-site group training, and enhancing the role of e-learning.