Today's job is the start of the rest of your career

The shape of training is changing, and different levels of staff have different priorities. This is where personal development plans come in, writes Philip Schofield

Our economy is recovering and skill shortages are on the increase. However, the Industrial Society, which has 10,000 member organisations, claims that the average spent on training each employee has fallen by a fifth since 1993. Every employment sector, and every region except Wales, has seen a cut in average training expenditure.

In its quarterly survey of training and development - Training Trends 14 - the society offers no explanation for this cut. However, it says that although expenditure has fallen, the average time spent on training each employee is expected to remain constant at four days a year. This could suggest more use of internal training and less use of external courses.

Customer service training heads the list of training priorities for the workforce as a whole by a substantial margin. It was cited by 42 per cent of the 504 personnel and training managers surveyed. The next five most important factors, in descending order, were: health and safety, total quality awareness, team building, managing change, and appraisal.

However, the order of priorities was not the same for all levels of staff. Those surveyed thought the top priority for senior managers was managing change (cited by 58 per cent) followed by leadership, appraisal, team building and financial awareness. For other managers appraisal headed the list, followed by managing change, team building, coaching, and leadership.

Many organisations claim that their business is focused on customer service, so it is surprising that customer service is listed only eighth in order of training priorities for both senior and other managers. It is only when we look at training priorities for professional/technical staff and for administrative/clerical staff that customer service tops the list.

These training priorities were probably established through a combination of managers assessing the skills needs of their departments, and from formal staff appraisals which identify the development needs of individuals.

However, two factors are changing the way in which training needs will be identified in future. A growing number of employers are moving away from a climate in which staff are "given training" to one in which staff identify their own training needs and initiate their own development. The other factor arises from the way in which some companies have stripped out layers of management, pushed decision-making down the line, and put a growing proportion of the work in the hands of "project teams" formed to achieve specific aims and then be dissolved.

In this type of organisation, individuals move between projects, working on some as leader, on others as a team member. "Manager" is coming to mean what a person does, how he or she functions in relation to projects and people. Promotion up the ladder is replaced by lateral moves to broaden knowledge and experience. Jobs for life are replaced by short-term contracts and there is growing movement between companies. Employers recognise, in theory at least, that having removed job security, they must help members of staff to develop a portfolio of transferable skills which will make them attractive to other employers when the time comes for them to move on.

These two factors have led a growing number of employers to encourage their staff to write their own personal development plans (PDPs) The authors of a new Institute of Employment Studies (IES) report - Personal Development Plans: Case Studies of Practice - observe that although the idea is not new, "there does seem to have been a rapid increase in the number of large organisations seeking to introduce some kind of PDP scheme. Organisations no longer feel they can take prime responsibility for the careers and development of their employees, and the PDP approach clearly puts the development ball in the employee's court."

Employers vary in the guidance they give to those filling in PDP forms in terms of defining areas for development. Some focus solely on the development needed to perform better in the current job, others extend to the next career step or longer-term career options. A minority take a holistic or person-centred approach and encourage the individual to think as widely as possible about a full range of skills and abilities and not just at the current job or the one beyond.

The report says the issue of focus is very important to how individuals see these schemes, and that they prefer a development planning process which looks at their wider personal aspirations. It continues: "From the employees' perspective it can be seen as a contradiction in terms to be encouraged to think about their own development in their own way, but then be told to concentrate only on their needs in relation to the current job."

The authors note that the processes which feed into PDPs influence the focus. Development centres and development programmes tend to be "person centred" in approach while appraisal tends to focus on the current job or next job step. Although appraisal-based PDPs may be easier to implement for the workforce as a whole, they tend to take a narrow view of development. If appraisal schemes are used, sufficient time should be built into them for discussion of individual development.

The approach presents interesting problems for employers. They cannot make it compulsory. As the report comments: "Being told you must develop yourself and, moreover, must do so by filling in a certain form, is a contradiction in terms." Moreover, if PDPs are available to one's superiors, and taken into account in decisions relating to job filling or succession planning, people are hardly likely to admit weaknesses on their PDPs.

What forms of training and career development do people on PDP schemes want? Training courses featured highly in the companies studied by the IES. However, so too did more unusual forms of development such as job moves, secondments, project work, task forces, work shadowing, coaching, distance learning, and personal development opportunities. If PDP schemes become widespread, the providers of training courses and distance learning packages will not only have to sell themselves to employers, but also to potential delegates.

News
Alan Bennett has criticised the “repellent” reality shows which dominate our screens
tvBut he does like Stewart Lee
Life and Style
The Google Doodle celebrating the start of the first day of autumn, 2014.
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
News
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Life and Style
food + drink
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Newly Qualified Teachers

£90 - £115 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: We are currently looking fo...

Year 3/4 Teacher

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Job Share Year 3/4 Teacher...

Chemistry Teacher

£85 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunity for Secondary ...

English Teacher

£85 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunity for Secondary ...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits