WORKSHOP: Personal Trainer - Stephen Bubb. Our financial position is extremely tight. My trustees want to cut the training budget, but is this wise?

Training is your investment for the future. I would strongly resist any calls to cut back on the training and development budget for the organisation's staff. Just as organisations need to invest in up-to-date information technology systems and equipment, people must also be supported in their jobs.

You need to invest in the quality and productivity of your major resource - the staff. It is very clear that one of the differentiators between successful private companies and those that fail is investment in professional development for staff. For most organisations the major item of expenditure is the salary bill. So why wouldn't you also want to invest in ensuring that staff can be as effective as possible in their jobs.

There is also a need for organisations to keep completely up-to-date in relevant professional areas. Information technology, human resources, fundraising, health and safety - these are just some of the areas where you need to be on top of latest developments in the sector and outside. And that is not to mention the fast-moving scene in legislation which affects the sector.

There is a growing problem of retaining quality staff and not losing them elsewhere. The sector is not able to pay the same level of salaries as its private and public counterparts. But one of the reasons people stay with you is if you invest in their development.

Therefore you need to have a learning culture in your organisation. Training is one way of achieving this. An organisation that skimps on its training budget is not going to be seen in a positive light by staff.

It is also important for organistions to realise that training is not just about money. It helps to have a decent sized training budget, but there are other ways that organisations can gain access to learning. The sector is very good at the "beg, steal and borrow

game. Training is not just about courses. You need to invest time in away days for staff, mentoring support and other measures which don't need to cost very much, and by networking with other third-sector organisations in order to utilise their expertise and knowledge.

The competitive climate is getting fiercer and the pressure on individuals is greater. But leadership is about getting results - about delivering the bottom line. Spending money on professional development is not an optional extra. It is a necessity.

Stephen Bubb is chief executive of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (Acevo).

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