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Employee training

Percent of front-line employees who attended employer-sponsored training

This indicator, from the Maine Economic Growth Council and the Maine Development Foundation, measures the percent of front-line workers who reported attending an educational seminar, program, or course through their place of work in the past 12 months. This indicator links education and economic parity with economic strength, and also ties in aspects of social connectedness.

Overview of the Issue
This indicator is about maintaining and enhancing human capital, specifically by training front-line workers. A front-line worker is someone who:

  • Is not a manager or salaried worker,
  • Typically receives lower wages, and
  • Typically has fewer training and education opportunities than managers and salaried employees.
Because technology and business requirements change continuously and at increasing rates, workers must also be continuously retrained in order to remain effective, both within a company and within a community. Education that is an ongoing part of life is one hallmark of a sustainable community, because education is a way of investing in and improving the social capital of the community.

This particular indicator is from the Maine Measures of Growth, which is produced by the Maine Development Foundation (MDF) for the Maine Economic Growth Council. It is based on the MDF's Annual Survey of Maine Citizens and included 600 randomly selected citizens. This survey defined a front-line worker as someone earning less than $35,000. Tracked since 1995, the indicator shows that an average of 24% of Maine front-line workers participated in employer-sponsored training. Given these numbers, a goal of 35% participation has been set for the year 2000.

Indicator Evaluation
This indicator was chosen because it measures a significant factor of future economic strength and stability -- a well-trained, up-to-date workforce is essential to businesses. It also involves economic parity issues, in that it looks at opportunities available to the lower tiers of employees. This indicator also measures a factor of social connectedness, as shown by employers fulfilling obligations to employees, as well as by employees feeling that the opportunities offered are worthwhile investments in their own futures.

Carrying capacity of the community capital
Natural capital - This indicator does not address carrying capacity of natural capital.

Social capital - The indicator does reflect both aspects of social capital. It is a straightforward measure of the education and skills of the people. It is also a measure of a sense of social responsibility on the part of business owners, and to some extent a sense of opportunity and responsibility on the part of employees who participate.

Built/financial capital - The indicator also addresses issues of economic parity, future employment opportunities, and the future economic health of the state.

Linkages - The areas of community addressed by this indicator include cultural/social, economy, education and population.

Long term view - The trend in this indicator has been used by the Maine Economic Growth Council to calculate a goal of 35% participation of front-line workers participating in employer-sponsored training by the year 2000. The report does not mention goals for years beyond that, but an ideal participation rate could be calculated.

Understandable - This is simply worded and it is easy for the average citizen to understand the significance of the indicator.

Ways the Indicator Has Prompted Change
although this indicator has not yet been adopted by any organizations, the Maine Economic Growth Council encourages state agencies and non-profits to incorporate goals and benchmarks from the Measures of Growth report into their strategic plans.

How to Improve the Indicator
It would be interesting to know what kinds of training were offered. To what extent were the new skills transferable? It would also be useful to know the total amount of time spent in training per participant -- an hour is significantly different than a week or a course. For the sake of consistency from year to year it would be helpful to be more specific about what constitutes training.

Other Things People Should Know
Numbers for each year are not likely to be exact measurements, but the trend line is likely to represent trends in employer-sponsored training.

Data Sources and Additional Information
This indicator was selected from the 1998 Report of the Maine Economic Growth Council, Measures of Growth. The Maine Economic Growth Council is a 19-member multi-stakeholder group appointed by the governor and legislative leadership to establish state goals for a sustainable economic growth and continually report on progress towards the goals. The Council has established 54 indicators and publishes a progress report annually. although concerned with economic 'growth,' the Council has a long-term time horizon and defines the economy very broadly to include healthy natural resources and vital communities.

The report was prepared by the Maine Development Foundation. The report can be found on their web site, http://www.mdf.org, along with further data and discussion. The web site includes a page specifically devoted to each indicator where one can see the data graphed and read explanatory text. Our thanks to Craig Freshley of the Maine Development Foundation for providing input to this Indicator Spotlight.

The Maine Development Foundation web site includes links to the data sources used for this indicator. The data sources were the Maine Department of Labor, Labor Market Information and the US Bureau of Economic Analysis. Additional data was derived from the Maine Development Foundation Annual Survey of Maine Citizens.

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (http://www.bea.gov/), part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, provides statistics related to economic activity to government, businesses, households, and individuals. Their web site is a good first stop when looking for economic data related to income, wealth and industry at the regional, national, and international levels.

The U.S. Department of Education (http://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/landing.jhtml) and the National Center for Education Statistics (http://nces.ed.gov/) both maintain web sites on research and statistics that are potential sources of information on education and training.

We are very interested in including comments from reviewers that add to the general discussion of measuring sustainability. As we receive appropriate comments, we will add them here. If you have comments about a particular indicator that you would like to include, please send us a message. Likewise, if your community or organization has an indicator that you think would be a good indicator for our Spotlight, please let us know.