European Employers Focus on Training over Pay

October 17, 2006 ( - A European survey by Mercer Human Resource Consulting revealed that companies in Europe plan to spend more on training next year than on pay increases.

Only 16% of the European companies responding to the survey said they are planning to bump up their investment in base salary increases next year, while almost six in 10 (58%) said they will spend more money on training and career development initiatives for staff, according to a Mercer press release.

Other elements of pay will receive a lower increase in spending than training as well, such as retirement benefits (16%) and health care benefits (20%). Thirty-two percent of companies said they will invest more in annual cash bonuses and 44% will invest more in non-cash rewards, the release said.

The focus on training is designed to reduce costs and make up for skills gaps created by an aging workforce, the survey indicated. Thirty-two percent of responding companies said they plan to develop the talents of existing employees to fill skills gaps, while 24% said they will rely on new hires. The remaining survey participants said they will use a combination of the two.

Only 11% of responding companies said adapting their employee rewards packages to meet the needs of an aging workforce was a challenge. The number one challenge, cited by 83% of European employers responding to the survey, was attracting and retaining qualified talent. This was followed by a 65% vote for differentiating rewards for top performers as an employer concern.

The skills most in demand, the survey revealed, were in sales and marketing (23%), followed by engineering (16%) and information technology skills (15%).

The survey included responses from more than 430 companies in Europe, mostly multinationals.