HR Toolkit

Learning, Training & Development

Factors Affecting Working & Learning

Nonprofits and their employees operate in an environment that has seen many changes in recent years:

  • Competition for skilled employees
  • Attracting and retaining employees becomes a challenge
  • Need for additional skills
  • Funding for employee training and development is a concern
  • Less job security
  • Limited opportunities for advancement

All these changes point to how vital it is to invest in the learning, training and development of your current employees.


Competition for skilled employees

There is greater competition for skilled employees and this competition will increase as the baby boomer generation starts to retire.

In the CPRN research paper, Job Quality in Non-profit Organizations, it points out that the nonprofit sector employs a well-educated workforce with "strong project management and organizational skills." These same skills are sought after by other sectors of the labour market.


Attracting and retaining employees becomes a challenge

As competition for employees increases, attracting and retaining employees will become a challenge. To ensure that your organization remains a desirable place to work, as Job Quality in Non-profit Organizations points out, an important part of job quality is the opportunities that employers provide for learning:

"The opportunity to develop and use one's skills and abilities is another important dimension of 'job quality', with relevant indicators including access to formal training , opportunities for on-the-job learning, and prospects for promotion and career advancement."


Need for additional skills

In another CPRN report, Skills and Training in the Non-profit Sector, the authors report that based on the information that they have, "... one would expect a considerable share of employees to say that skill requirements have been on the rise. This is indeed the case." This is particularly true for professionals working in the nonprofit sector.


Funding for employee training and development is a concern

Adequate funding continues to be a concern. While the need to use resources to provide employee training and development increases, the resources to do so may not be available. In fact, funding for training and development may be one of the first items to be eliminated in times of financial uncertainty.


Less job security

Employees in the sector (and employees in general) have less job security than they used to. People constantly hear that they can expect to have many different employers and even different careers during their work life. Given this message and its reality, employees are looking for employers who will provide them with opportunities to develop transferable skills.


Limited opportunities for advancement

Most organizations in the sector have a flat organizational structure. This means that there is little room for promotion. Employees and organizations need to embrace the idea that moving 'up' is not the only way to be satisfied with one's work. An alternative is to create challenges for employees in their current position or a similar position.


Next Section: Getting Your Organization Ready for Employee Training and Development