Transfer of training: the missing link in training and the quality of adult social care


Professor Nicholas Clarke
School of Management
University of Southampton
Southampton SO17 1BJ, UK


Recent UK social care reforms characterised by a policy of increasing personalisation and choice in adult social care have been accompanied by major reorganisation and investment in workforce training and development. There is an assumed link between training and the quality of care received. This assumption has a long pedigree in social care, but rarely does it receive the scrutiny necessary for us to understand better the nature of this relationship. This paper focuses on the potential for in-service training to contribute to the transformation in social care as expected by policy-makers. Reviewing recent findings from the evaluation of training in social care shows that problems continue to persist in demonstrating that training results in changes in practitioner behaviour back on the job. Findings within the social care literature mirror those found more widely in suggesting learner characteristics, intervention design, and delivery and the workplace environment combine to influence whether training transfers to use on the job. The argument advanced here is that without a focus on the transfer of training, the contribution of training to quality of care outcomes will remain illusory. A shift is required in policy-makers’ mindsets away from training, to a focus on training transfer in directing workforce development strategies. It might then be possible to begin to identify how and in what configurations training may be associated with quality of care outcomes.