‘One size, fits all’ approach to training is wasteful and ineffective

LONDON, UK — 8 July 2020 — As fears mount around youth unemployment, the UK Government is providing a package of over £100 million to boost workplace training schemes.  While welcoming the move, Questionmark, the online assessment provider, is calling on employers to ensure that the additional funds are put to good use.  Despite budgets devoted to workplace training, current programmes are often ineffective.   

Businesses across England will be given £1,000 grants to take on additional young trainees.  Currently, employers across the UK spend £39 billion on training.  However, according to some estimates, as much as 60% of it could be wasted[1].

The problem is not unique to the UK.  Across the world, $130 billion is spent on learning and development programmes.  Research shows that only 25% of it is judged to be effective.  The waste is attributed to a range of factors including the quality of delivery and uninspiring content[2]

It is also likely that many staff are being trained to develop skills they already possess.  Other training may be on areas that are not critical to performance. However, simply asking employees what skills they require is unlikely to be the solution.  Further research suggests that people are ‘unconsciously incompetent’ in anything from 20% to 40% of areas critical to their role[3].  They may not realise that they do not know how to perform crucial parts of their job.

The answer lies in conducting skills tests and assessments of those joining the expanding programmes.  These can give employers the fair, valid and reliable information they need to make good decisions about their people, and transform the impact of training.

  • Testing eliminates the need to train participants in areas where they are already proficient, saving both time and money.
  • When a trainee knows they will be tested, training is typically more effective.  Studies show that if people are called upon to reconstruct what they have learned, they are more likely to remember it[4].
  • Testing participants post-training also measures the effectiveness of the programme or course.  Ineffective programmes can then be discontinued or revamped and the quality of training can be constantly improved.

Lars Pedersen, CEO, Questionmark, said, “Learning and development programmes have never been more needed, so this increased investment is certainly welcome.  But it must be put to good use.  By testing the workforce, employers can ensure their investment is paying off.  Assessments can reveal priorities, eliminate wasted training and ensure that the relevant skills are developed.”


[1] https://www.hrmagazine.co.uk/article-details/training-wastage-what-can-be-done-about-it

[2] https://trainlikeachampion.blog/infographic-why-corporate-training-is-a-colossal-waste-and-what-to-do-about-it/

[3] https://hbr.org/2017/09/how-to-teach-employees-skills-they-dont-know-they-lack

[4] https://www.questionmark.com/ten-benefits-of-quizzes-and-tests-in-educational-practice/?lang=en_GB