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L&D teams across Government facing increased budget pressure in 2024

A new study has revealed that Learning & Development (L&D) professionals across UK central government are now facing increasing pressure to deliver high-quality training amid rising staff numbers and stagnant budgets. 

A new study has revealed that Learning & Development (L&D) professionals across UK central government are now facing increasing pressure to deliver high-quality training amid rising staff numbers and stagnant budgets.

More than one in two (52%) of decision makers said that the number of staff in their department has increased year-on-year, while 53% indicated that their budgets have remained unchanged, highlighting the growing disparity between resources and demands. When quizzed further on available funding, 25% of L&D professionals expressed concerns over lacking the necessary budget to provide effective training to growing teams.

The findings form part of a new white paper published today (20th November) by Understanding ModernGov, the UK’s leading provider of training solutions for the public sector, which has been compiled to help the sector better understand the current challenges and trends in L&D across central government. The research incorporates the views of L&D professionals working in 93% of all government departments.

The study also examined the current barriers L&D decision makers face in delivering effective training. Time restraints came out on top with 70%, with budget (48%), suitable available training offerings (36%) and procurement guidelines and constraints (28%) also being noted as obstacles that need to be overcome.

In addition, the respondents were asked to provide insight into the amount of training currently being delivered to civil servants. Across central government, only one in five (20%) people attended over six days of training during the past 12 months, with more than double that figure (41%) partaking in just 2-3 days. Instructor-led courses are currently the most popular training format (69%), with virtual courses also scoring highly (57%). However, just over a third of staff said they found one-to-one coaching the most effective training format (34%).

When asked to provide insight into the biggest challenges they currently face – aside from the delivery of training – staff recruitment and retention scored the highest (73%), with more than one in two L&D professionals also citing staff wellbeing and resilience (57%) and upskilling employees (53%).

Other key findings included how L&D decision makers identified training needs for their staff – with performance reviews (74%) and staff requests (72%) being the two most popular answers. Meanwhile, self-assessment feedback (70%) was judged to be the most popular method for measuring the impact of training among staff, however, 25% of respondents revealed they do not evaluate the effectiveness of training once completed.

Commenting on the white paper, Yoav Zand, Managing Director at Understanding ModernGov, said: “It is clear from our research that the key challenge for L&D teams in 2024 will be the ability to develop an ever-growing workforce whilst proactively addressing skills gaps as they arise – all within tight budgets. If staff numbers continue to increase and training budgets remain the same, industry professionals will face enormous pressure to maintain the same calibre of high-quality training and development opportunities that align with the specific needs of their employees.

“The evolving landscape across the public sector only highlights the need for a proactive approach to training. The emphasis on staff recruitment, retention and wellbeing emphasises the human element at the heart of these challenges. It is now more important than ever for L&D strategies to be both adaptive and forward-thinking, ensuring that the workforce is not only equipped for today but also prepared for tomorrow’s uncertainties.”

Understanding ModernGov white paper

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