30 Jun 2008 03:43:00.000
New research has called into question the value of the government's £30 million support for the Investors in People Small Firms Initiative.
The initiative, which involves business support from IiP UK, the Learning and Skills Council and the Small Business Service, was established in February 2003 to boost IiP recognition rates and training levels among small firms.
But research by Professors Kim Hoque and Nicolas Bacon at Nottingham University Business School, suggests that in the small firm sector, Investors in People recognition does nothing to boost the training levels of non-management employees.
Click here for full story
In fact, levels of training provided to non-management employees are no higher in small firms that have secured the award than in those that have not1. The research also reveals no increase in levels of IiP recognition among small firms (defined as having between 5 and 49 employees).
Our results suggest any country that has either adopted, or is considering adopting IiP, should be cautious about its likely benefits.
Professor Nicolas Bacon
Commenting on the research, based on survey responses from more than 9,000 employees to the government's Workplace Employment Relations survey2, Professor Kim Hoque says: "It would appear that the government's financial commitment to raise recognition rates and boost training levels in the small firm sector through IiP UK's Small Firms Initiative has failed to achieve its aims. It would also appear that the revisions to the IiP Standard in 2000 and 2004 to make the award more palatable to small firms by reducing levels of bureaucracy and making it easier to understand have not had the desired effect."
Ironically, while the effects of IiP recognition in small firms are questionable, IiP UK has been extremely successful in exporting the Standard to other countries. Indeed, IiP UK has licence agreements in over 20 countries as far afield as Africa, continental Europe, North America, the Middle East and Australasia. "Our results suggest any country that has either adopted, or is considering adopting IiP, should be cautious about its likely benefits," says Professor Nicolas Bacon.
But, what needs to be done to boost the effectiveness of Investors in People in the small firm sector? One alternative might be to revise the Standard further to better meet the needs of small firm employers. As the authors of the research point out, however, given the revisions that have already been made to the Standard it is difficult to see how it could be made more palatable to small firms while still requiring them to engage in some form of meaningful skills training.
- Ends -
Notes to editors: 1 'Investors in People and training in the British SME sector', Human Relations, 61 (4), 2008.
2 The 2004 Workplace Employment Relations Survey is sponsored by the DTI, the Economic and Social Research Council, ACAS and the Policy Studies Institute. It is nationally representative of workplaces with five or more employees. The response rate of the employee survey (used as the base for analysis here) is 64 per cent.
The University of Nottingham is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 70 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and Times Higher (THES) World University Rankings.
It provides innovative and top quality teaching, undertakes world-changing research, and attracts talented staff and students from 150 nations. Described by The Times as Britain's "only truly global university", it has invested continuously in award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. Twice since 2003 its research and teaching academics have won Nobel Prizes. The University has won the Queen's Award for Enterprise in both 2006 (International Trade) and 2007 (Innovation "€” School of Pharmacy).
Its students are much in demand from 'blue-chip' employers. Winners of Students in Free Enterprise for four years in succession, and current holder of UK Graduate of the Year, they are accomplished artists, scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, innovators and fundraisers. Nottingham graduates consistently excel in business, the media, the arts and sport. Undergraduate and postgraduate degree completion rates are amongst the highest in the United Kingdom.