By Corinne Stratton, Socitm Research & Policy Manager
In Socitm’s 2014 benchmarking summary Making Do With Less, we analysed data from throughout 2013 and concluded:
The average user now only receives 0.85 days training per year – the lowest level since we started measuring it. […] However, user satisfaction with training effectiveness is increasing.
So: is the average user still getting hardly any training? And are they happy with what they’re getting?
As it turns out, that 2013 all-time-low of 0.85 days ICT training per year was blown out of the water in 2015. When we asked 14989 people the same question again, the average had dropped even further, to a rock-bottom 0.69 days per year! I wanted some perspective, so I asked The Internet [1 ]  how much time the average person spends doing a few other things each year.
We spend more than 1,800 hours at work in the average year ; we spend just 0.003% of that time on ICT training for that work. We spend six times as long waiting in traffic each year as developing our skills. We probably spend more time picking our noses than learning! …But, er, let’s move on.
ICT training is clearly low in everyone’s priorities. There’s a silver lining though: it’s easy to be exceptional. You just have to organise one day’s training for everyone at once! Simple, right…?
The second part was trickier: Making Do With Less didn’t tell me how effective people thought their training had been. For that, I had to delve into the mysterious archives of Socitm’s benchmarking data. Picture me gripping a torch, tiptoeing between lofty bookshelves crammed with dusty leather-bound archives: an intrepid data scientist on a mission…
Well, actually, I just sat in the comfy Socitm office and scrolled through our database. Here’s what I found.
In our Benchmarking User Satisfaction survey, we ask users to rate the effectiveness of their ICT training on a scale from 1 (not effective) to 7 (very effective). In 2013, the average was 4.92, which I translated as “pretty okay”.
When I looked at the 2015 results, I was shocked to discover that the average effectiveness of training was… 4.92. Almost EXACTLY the same. Here’s a graph, to show you what that looks like on a graph:
I think this might reflect the same trend we’re seeing throughout local government – and actually, everywhere else. As technology gets more intuitive, more ubiquitous, and woven through more areas of our lives, perhaps ICT training is seen as less and less relevant.
In my search for perspective earlier on, I also found an Ofcom study  which reported that the average internet user spends over 20 hours online each week. I didn’t use this in my little bar chart earlier, because it would have made that six-ish hours of training per year look like a Lego brick next to Big Ben!
One last thought. Across all our benchmarking data, the happier people were with their training, the higher they rated their ICT department overall. So maybe it’s not about how much training you give your staff: just make sure they like what they get.