Seventy per cent of the 200 employees responding to the national survey said their training requirements, particularly for professional and management staff, had increased.
But a quarter could recall no contacts with any providers in the further and higher education sectors. Three-quarters had just one contact but said there was little or no follow-up from institutions. The bleakest view came from the retail industry.
Almost half of the respondents (46 per cent) expect to make more use of training services outside the company. But those who used the education services said they were "poor" compared with private-sector training groups.
The report of the survey for HEIST, the Higher Education Information Services Trust, said colleges must abandon their "downbeat and dowdy image" for a sharper, more competitive image.