Job Quality Indicators » Training and Skill Development

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Workplace Training

With the rise of a "knowledge-based economy" in the past several decades, Canadian workers understand the importance of keeping their skills current. Encouraging this life-long learning recently has become a high priority for governments across the country.

 

Training Opportunities: Use of Various Kinds of Training

Source: Statistics Canada Workplace and Employee Survey (1999) - employer survey.
 

As the chart shows, just under half of workplaces surveyed in 1999 provided on-the-job training, according to management’s records (45 percent). One third of Canadian workplaces provided classroom job-related training (31 percent), while about one in five provided subsidies for training outside of work (22 percent).

 

By Size of Workplace

Training Opportunities: Big Firms Train More

Source: Statistics Canada Workplace and Employee Survey (1999) - employer survey.
 

Study after study in the 1990s showed that when it comes to providing training, bigger is better. Large employers consistently invest more in training than small employers. This was also true in 1999, as the chart above shows. While one in four firms with fewer than 20 employees provide classroom training, this is the case for over 80 percent of those with more than 100 employees. A similar pattern is evident when training subsidies and on-the-job training are considered.

On all these indicators of training, the gap between the smallest and largest workplaces is very large, raising questions about what could done to provide more training opportunities to workers in small workplaces. Finally, one qualification is in order: these indicators refer only to ‘formal’ training and job-related education programs. A complete picture would also include informal means of learning, such as through co-workers or supervisors on the job, or family and friends off the job. Just think of how you, or the people you know, have learned to use new computer software and you will appreciate the importance of a diverse range of approaches to the acquisition of job skills.

Large firms are better positioned to invest in training than their smaller counterparts. And as our indicators of human resource development strategies show, large workplaces generally place far greater emphasis on people development than do smaller workplaces. Large firms can more readily build training time into work schedules, take advantage of economies of scale in setting up training programs, offer employees promotions to capitalize on training investments, and have more financial resources to invest in their human resources. In short, they face fewer barriers to providing and supporting training.

 

By Industry

Training Opportunities: Classroom Training Most Common in Finance and Insurance, Least Common in Real Estate

Source: Statistics Canada Workplace and Employee Survey (1999) - employer survey.
 
 

Training Opportunities: Subsidies Most Often Provided in Finance and Insurance, Comparatively Rare in Construction, Retail Trade and Real Estate

Source: Statistics Canada Workplace and Employee Survey (1999) - employer survey.
 
 

Training Opportunities: On the Job Training Most Frequent in Finance and Insurance, Infrequent in Real Estate

Source: Statistics Canada Workplace and Employee Survey (1999) - employer survey.
 

The availability of workplace training depends largely on which industry you work in. As the chart above indicates, classroom training is by far most prevalent in finance and insurance, where it’s provided by almost six in ten (58 percent) workplaces. This likely reflects the large size of workplaces within the sector (e.g. banks and insurance companies), the constantly changing services offered within the industry, extensive use of information technology, and professional certification requirements for key professional groups . By way of contrast, workplaces in retail trade, construction and real estate were least likely to provide classroom training.

As the charts above also show, these patterns across industry are generally evident when training subsidies and on-the-job training are considered.

These three indicators only scratch the surface of this important issue. A full assessment of training would have to include information on the length and content of the training provided, as well as evaluations of the benefits to workers and the employer. We will provide this type of information at a later date.

Additional Charts and Information