Employers recognise benefits of informal adult education for workers

A survey on the state of informal adult education was carried out in Lithuania in 2005. The study revealed that 95% of employers viewed informal adult education positively and considered it as necessary for employees. Almost 80% of the employers surveyed offered some form of training for their personnel. Moreover, companies set aside a greater proportion of funds for training purposes in 2005 compared with 2004.

Survey objectives and methodology

The Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Lithuania (Lietuvos Respublikos Švietimo ir mokslo ministerija, SMM) commissioned a study on the state of informal adult education in Lithuania in 2005. The research aimed to analyse the prevalence of informal adult education and the attitude of employers towards such training. In the context of the study, informal adult education was defined as learning designed to improve professional qualifications and participation in various informal self-education courses such as arts, foreign languages or computer literacy.

The study methodology comprised a questionnaire survey of employers; the questionnaire covered different issues in relation to informal education. Within the framework of the survey, small-sized, medium-sized and large enterprises were selected from different economic activities representing the private and public sectors in Lithuania. A total of 360 employers or their authorised representatives from the lists of organisations chosen on the basis of systematic random selection were questioned as part of the survey.

Main survey findings

Employers view training favourably

The survey revealed the positive attitude of the employers towards informal employee education and that they considered it necessary for their personnel. This opinion was supported by 95% of those surveyed. Employers providing training for their employees identified the improvement of professional qualifications and improved labour productivity and quality as the most important benefits of informal education of employees. According to the employers, administrative and executive staff are most in need of informal education: 55% of those surveyed believed that administrative employees most required such training, while 52% thought the same in relation to executive personnel (Figure 1). Conversely, 28% of employers considered that blue-collar workers were most in need of informal education.

Distribution of employers by employee groups most requiring informal education, according to the employers (%)

Distribution of employers by employee groups most requiring informal education, according to the employers (%)

Note: Respondents could give more than one answer.

Source: SMM, 2005

More training offered in public sector and in large companies

According to the survey findings, 79% of the employers reported that they provided staff training. Training courses were much more often held in public sector organisations compared with private enterprises: 92% of public sector employers and 69% of private sector employers offered training to their employees. Similarly, staff training was more often organised in large and medium-sized companies than in small-sized enterprises. On average, 87% of employers in large and medium-sized companies and 67% of employers in small-sized enterprises, including micro-enterprises with less than 10 employees, organised training for their personnel.

Only 4% of companies organising informal education for staff had an in-house licensed training unit, 15% of companies held some training courses in their in-house training units and the rest (81%) of employers arranged all courses for employees in other training institutions.

Private sector companies demonstrated their growing understanding of the importance of employee training and investment by assigning an increasing proportion of funds for training purposes (Figure 2). Compared with 2004, the proportion of enterprises setting aside funds for training purposes increased in Lithuania in 2005.

Distribution of private sector employers by proportion of turnover assigned for staff training (%)

Distribution of private sector employers by proportion of turnover assigned for staff training (%)

Source: SMM, 2005

Superiors recommend employees for training

According to the survey findings, employees were most often selected for training based on the recommendation of their immediate superiors: 46% of the companies surveyed applied this method of selection. Some 36% of the employers reported that a system of obligatory qualification requirements operated in their enterprises, necessitating regular qualification improvement for employees in certain positions. About one third (31%) of the survey respondents simply announced the training available and compiled lists of employees willing to attend such training (Figure 3).

Distribution of employers by methods of selecting employees for training (%)

Distribution of employers by methods of selecting employees for training (%)

Note: Respondents could give more than one answer.

Source: SMM, 2005

The bigger the company was, the more often training was held. These larger companies laid greater emphasis on improving employees’ qualifications: the need for training was more often surveyed on a regular basis, employees were recommended for training by their immediate superiors and systems of obligatory qualification improvement operated.

Lack of funds, courses and time main barriers to training

The main difficulties faced by the employers in relation to the organisation of informal education for their employees were lack of funds – reported by 43% of those surveyed – and lack of appropriate courses and training – cited by 35% of employers. In addition, many employers mentioned that training took too much time and that employees often moved to competitors after completion of training courses.

Rasa Zabarauskaite, Institute of Labour and Social Research

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