Reasons for not Training? LO5740

thomas spielhofer (
Tue, 20 Feb 1996 09:16:38 +0000

Hi there,

I am a research student at Oxford University in England - I have for the
last 1.5 years been doing research within the field of vocational
education and employer needs etc. Recently I have started focusing on the
amount and quality of training that takes place in British organisations;
this seems to me to relate very strongly to the concept of the learning
organisation. I am investigating what a learning organisation is, and
whether British organisations can be seen as aspiring towards any such
ideal. The following questions are part of this exploration. I have
already posted them to another discussion list (TRDEv-L) so please excuse
me if you've already received them from there ...:

My research has taken me into the area of training at work and the
possible reasons why employers (managers, personnel managers, ..) may be
disinclined to provide training for their employees.

It is - in reference to Britain - often argued that the quantity and
quality of training is well below the standards of, for example, Germany
or Japan. Various reasons are given, by different authors, for this
shortfall. I wonder whether any of you could comment on these, and on the
assumption itself that the quantity and quality of training in Britain is
below par. I am not claiming that any of these are correct, but am simply
interested to hear what those who are actually working in industry (both
here in Britain and overseas) think about these things. I will try and
keep it short. The reasons given are:

a) 'the poaching problem' - that employers are afraid that others will
'poach' the workers that they have trained (so that these other employers
reap the benefits of training wihtout incurring it's costs)

b) short-termism - that companies (which get their capital by selling
shares) are due to the constant fear of takeovers forced into a
short-termism which hinders them to make long term strategic decisions
(i.e. increased R&D and long term training programmes); i.e. that this
short-termism if reinforced by the pressure to maximize immediate profits
and share-holder value

c) David Finegold's low-skill equilibrium theory: briefly, that employers
in Britain compared to employers in e.g. Japan, Nortern Italy and Germany
have concentrated their production on the mass production of low-quality
goods and services, and that this kind of production does not require a
lot of training

d) corporate control structures: that the control systems of modern
companies impose short-termism (i.e. that sub-divisions are assessed,
annually or quarterly, in terms of their profitability and that further
investment by company HQs is dependent on such short-term profitability)

I would be very grateful if any of you who have direct experience of the
'real world' of business/industry could comment on the
arguments/assumptions/beliefs that I have listed here ....


Thomas Spielhofer <>
DPhil Student
Oxford University
Department of Educational Studies

-- (thomas spielhofer)

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