Can the Government make us better managers?

Some managers are just not very good at managing, according to the Government. People in glass houses...

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Today is National Learning at Work Day, so the Government’s Learning and Skills Council is encouraging UK managers to take more advantage of Train to Gain, its flagship skills programme. According to the LSC’s latest National Employer Skills Survey (which spoke to over 79,000 firms), about 163,000 managers in England alone have some kind of skills gap – and nearly three-quarters of these unfortunates are apparently lacking basic management skills.

Delegation is one of the big weaknesses, according to the survey – both because managers don’t have the training to do it well, and because staff don’t have the training to take on the additional responsibility. As a result, 57% of respondents said managerial skill gaps were creating more work for other staff, while a third suggested this mass incompetence was increasing operating costs and making organisational change more difficult.

The answer, according to the LSC, is to get more involved with Train to Gain – it reports that 43% of participants subsequently got a pay rise, and 30% were promoted. It cites the example of Keith Edwards, the boss of wireless company TES, who was worried that the growth of his business was affecting his work/life balance. So he went on a Train to Gain course that addressed his time management, delegation and management style – and now he gets to take the weekends off.

Of course, the other way of looking at the TfG stats is that more than half of the people who’ve used the programme have seen no financial benefit, and 70% have enjoyed no career advancement whatsoever as a result. What’s more, it says in the small print that these 163,000 managers represent just 4% of the total - which by our maths, is a fairly meagre 1 in 25. So it really depends how you look at it...

Much though we approve of employers spending more time and money training their staff (and thus of the National Learning at Work Day concept itself), we can’t help being a bit sceptical about a Government body telling us how to be better managers. After all, in the last decade it appears to have wasted several billion pounds on the NHS, overseen the Millennium Dome and Tube upgrade fiascos, and recently made a pig’s ear of trying to rescue Northern Rock. Perhaps there are a few government officials who might benefit from a bit more time spent on Train to Gain...

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