Despite a productivity crisis in the UK, more than a third (39%) of employees in the Midlands are spending more time on tea breaks than on any form of work-based training, new research from the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) has found. The survey of both employees and managers working in finance/accountancy-related roles found one in seven (16%) staff in the Midlands have never had any form of work-related finance training. Given this situation, over one in three (34%) employees admit they search online to find out how to do their jobs better, in their own time.

The study also found discrepancies between attitudes towards training at work. One in four managers based in the South West (26%) admit they think training their staff will only help them develop their own careers, not benefit their current role. Moreover, one in four (26%) believe training is good in principle, but disruptive in practice.

Yet, just one in six Midlands employees (17%) report they seek training to help them move jobs. The reality is four in ten (39%) want to learn more at work to help them do their existing jobs better, and make them more productive.

Whilst managers may be concerned that if they train staff they will leave, the data shows that not providing any training is a bigger risk to staff turnover: 46% of South West workers would consider moving to another job solely because it offered a better training programme. 60% of employees would ask about training at their next job interview.  

The AAT data also identifies a stigma around learning in some workplaces, with over a third (37%) of employees in the Midlands believing that managers should make clear that training is not just for underperforming staff. This comes as one in ten Midlands-based bosses admit they turn to training only for staff who are struggling to perform as required. Coupled with the other findings of the research this means 89% of employees would approach training differently to their current line manager.

Commenting on the findings Mark Farrar, Chief Executive of the Association of Accounting Technicians, said: "The majority of UK employees are spending a tiny percentage of their hours in work improving their skills and abilities through any form of formal training or accredited learning. With UK labour productivity falling at the fastest pace since 2008* there has never been a more important time to focus on helping our workers up-skill. Yet, there are fundamental differences in how employees and managers approach workplace learning, meaning workers are currently spending more time on tea breaks than training.

"At AAT we want to help employers and their staff to talk to each other about this issue, which is why we have created an online tool to help managers and their teams talk training in their tea break. After all, 70% of employees in the Midlands told us they'd like to talk to their manager more about their training needs. Found at, this tool helps both bosses and their staff to navigate this issue, and all in the time it takes to make a cuppa."

Despite the differences revealed in the data, one area that employees and their managers in the Midlands agree on is barriers to training: 93% of employees and 93% of employers agree that there are factors preventing more learning taking place in their companies. For both employers and employees time is the biggest barrier, followed by funding, finding the right training and then convincing employers it's good for business.  However, 76% of employees and 76% of employers concur that their company could afford to invest more in training needs.

The benefits of external training are also clear to staff: 69% of those polled in the Midlands agreed that it brings in new ideas to a team and business, whilst 51% think it is better planned and better delivered than any internal training.