Employers Are Failing to Train Newly Hired Employees

training newly hired employeesEmployers are failing to train newly hired employees and instead everything is being outsourced for someone else to deal with. In the process they’re eliminating a position and sometimes multiple positions at a time. Recently I attended a retirement party for a friends mother who retired at a very young age of 53. She worked hard her whole in life as a Financial Controller with the same employer for 27 years. But she didn’t start off in accounting, in fact she had no formal training in accounting what so ever. She started as a secretary answering phones,  filing files and making coffee in the late 1980s. A few years of doing basic clerical work, she was promoted to accounts receivables, then a few years later to accounts payable, and eventually became a Financial Controller. But what’s interesting about her story is not how fast she moved up the corporate latter, but instead how her employer was willing to train and invest in her so that she could take on more demanding roles.

The reason why I find this fascinating in some sense is that employers training employees has virtually become extinct. Instead employers are outsourcing everything possible. That’s why a position such as a mail-room clerk virtually doesn’t exist anymore. Secretaries are no longer secretaries, instead they’ve become personal assistants who answer the phones as well. Corporate Canada is outsourcing everything – from the mail-room and printing to telephone answering and building maintenance. Employers are failing to train newly hired employees.

What’s more interesting is that top executives, job boards and head hunters are reporting that Canada has a major skills shortage. Furthermore, young people can’t seem to find work – entry level or not. I’m not sure about you, but to me there’s a direct correlation between these two points. Employers want the most qualified and well trained people, yet they’re not wiling to invest in them through training, promotion and fair opportunity. So who else to blame for the shortage of skills than the corporations themselves.

Past Hiring Practices

Corporations at one time used to hire entry-level employees, and advance them through the corporate ladder with training. You may be thinking that this was a while ago, but that’s not the case. Hiring for entry level positions and training employees was something that was done across the board by everybody up until the last 7 or 8 years. There was even a study done on this in 2011 by the Conference Board of Canada, and what they discovered was that spending per employee for on the job training peeked in 1993 and since then has sharply declined by 40 per cent since. (Source: Toronto Star)

Rather than developing it’s own, employers are outsourcing the position to a third party or eliminating it as a whole and other times combining two or three positions into one. What’s even more scary, those who don’t outsource, hire experienced and already trained employees. How’s this supposed to give someone fresh out of school without any experience an opportunity to get their foot into the door? It simply doesn’t.

Furthermore, I believe this is the reason why most employees don’t hang around more than  3-4 years. Who would want to hang around when you’re not being invested into and not given a proper opportunity for advancement. College and University grads are finding today’s hiring policies and the whole job market disheartening. Not having any tangible skills, makes it hard to get a job, but you can’t get a job because nobody wants to hire you due to the lack of tangible skills. So, how can someone get experience if employers are only willing to hire those with experience?

Paying a Fair Price

The other thing many employers complain about is that potential hirees aren’t willing to accept a position due to the wage being offered. But, who sets the market wage? Employers do, whether on their own or through a staffing agency. To further illustrate this point, ManpowerGroup did an employer survey, and found that only roughly 10 per cent of employers admit that the problem is really that the candidate they want won’t accept the position at the wage level being offered  (Source: Toronto Star).

Surely a skill shortage cannot be blamed at employees for not willing to accept a low ball offer. The labour marketplace operates much like any other market place. You can’t sell your home for more than what the market dictates it’s price due to area, the economy and the condition of the home.

Furthermore, employers wait to find the perfect employee. It’s like waiting to find the perfect soul mate, yet perfect doesn’t exist in theory. There’s no such thing as a perfect fit for a job, instead there needs to be leeway and opportunity for proper training and advancement given to someone who’s being recruited.

The Rise of the Recruiter

Corporations also seem to be on this whole downsizing trend. Human Resources departments are getting smaller and smaller, and non existent in some work enthronements. Everything is being outsourced to a third party – agencies, head hunters and recruiters. It also doesn’t help the fact that agencies push corporations to submit a wishlist of the ideal candidate – a list that’s rarely fulfilled to it’s promise. Then the job opening hits a job board, and potential candidates are being screened by a computer for keywords. So, if the resume doesn’t have a certain keyword – it is pushed aside without regard even if some of the qualifications are non-essential.

Final Thoughts

According to studies, Canadian employers are failing to train and promote their employees effectively – for every dollar American employers spend on training and development, Canadian employers are spending 64 cents. Employers are also afraid to invest time, money and resources into training and development, as they’re afraid of losing the employee to a competitor. I’m a firm believer that in order to keep employees around for years to come, employers need to offer adequate training, development and the opportunities to do tasks that they haven’t done before. But it takes trust, something many employers aren’t willing to gamble with.

Employers need to take risks, because it’s up to them to assess each situation and determine who’s right or wrong. Because let’s face it, it’s much cheaper to promote within than to hire from the outside. The only thing worst than training an employee and having them leave, is not training the employee at all and having them around. A theory that’s not beneficial to either side.

Readers, do you believe employers are failing to train newly hired employees? Have you ever left a job due to lack of training or opportunity?

Happy Holidays and remember to stay safe!



  1. I agree with you here Eddie. This is happening in the States as well. Employers know that there are qualified people out there, so they just use recruiters to find them. They don’t want to waste time training someone for their job, they want them to be able to jump right in and earn their pay quickly.
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  2. Great post Eddie! I think it’s the same way here in the States. Many firms just don’t want to spend the money on employee development and want to squeeze as much out as they can. It’s actually part of the reason why I left to start my own business. No one would give me a chance to show what I was capable of, so I had to do it myself.
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  3. I’m sure that happens in most major companies. I think in certain jobs that require public relations, you have to have the personality or you will fail. We tend to hire based on attitude and personality and train the rest. You can’t train common sense or the ability to relate to customers. This is from a very small business perspective, though. I guess it isn’t as important maybe if you have 20,000 employees?
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  4. Couldn’t agree more Eddie… this is going to cause big problems given that most of the experience/knowledge is with the older generations. A lot of big corporations have the demographics in the wrong place as well! Watch this space…
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  5. This topic hits so close to home. This is a huge issue here in the States as well. I think companies are missing out on the value created when employee is trained and guided instead of expected everything on them. Everyone is about saving a penny here and there, yet from personal exposure I’ve seen a few companies who couldn’t hold on to an employee one after another, wasting more time in the process than simply helping out one through training.
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  6. I ended acquiring job skills by accident. I was hired for a low level Marketing Assistant Job doing cold calling and auditing data. However, when someone higher up the food chain was fired I ended up getting to manage the entire email campaign, overhauling the sales workflow, creating marketing collateral like brochures and managing the company Facebook and Twitter accounts as well as Google Adwords. It wouldn’t have happened if that woman hadn’t been let go