Learning & Development

Study Reveals Disconnect Between Employers and Employees in Upskilling Outlook

Randstad US has announced the findings from its quarterly Randstad Workmonitor survey (Q3 2017). According to the survey data, there exists a discrepancy between employers’ and employees’ attitudes toward upskilling.

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While over 80% of employees feel they have a responsibility to upskill, many U.S. employers and employees are not doing anything to arrange for upskilling opportunities in the workplace. In fact, over a third of U.S. employees have done nothing to upskill in the past 12 months, where upskilling is defined as attending workshops, completing online courses, receiving consultation from a specialist, participating in personal coaching sessions, or pursuing further education.

The Upskilling Disconnect

When asked to consider a variety of types of upskilling opportunities over the last 12 months, survey respondents revealed:

  • Nearly 40% of U.S. employees say their employers have not offered and paid for anything related to upskilling.
  • 40% of U.S. employees say they wouldn’t arrange for and pay out of their own pockets to upskill themselves.
  • 67% of U.S. employees say they feel they need more training and skills to stay up to date.

Value of Skills Balance

The study also explored the types of skills employees seek to improve and revealed that prioritizing personal versus vocational skills runs along a generational divide:

  • Nearly 70% of 18- to 34-year-olds feel they need to strengthen their personal skills.
  • Only 28% of 45+ year-olds said they needed to boost their personal skills, with 70% reporting vocational upskilling was critical to their development.

“There are many things companies can do to help their employees’ upskill and prepare for jobs of the future. It is in a company’s best interest to help their people grow in their profession or into leadership roles, as this can offset the severe skills gap happening in the market and increase employee engagement and retention,” said Michelle Prince, SVP, global head of learning and development, Randstad—in a press release. “Employees who are given opportunities to continually advance their professional proficiency are what will keep a company relevant and stay ahead of the competition.”

Soft skills are rapidly becoming a more valuable skill in the U.S. workforce, particularly for millennials. This is especially true with the rise of artificial intelligence (AI). Workers will need to continually develop and update their skills in order to keep pace with the new efficiencies that technology provides—honing critical skills, like leadership, creativity, problem-solving, and collaboration, which machines cannot replace.

“People are realizing there’s more to being a good worker than knowing how to do your job. Learning what is needed for the future, optimizing the tools your company provides and staying current on the industry are important to avoid becoming obsolete at work. You also have to be able to apply that in the context of being an effective communicator and collaborator when working with others,” said Prince. “Upskilling efforts therefore require a strategic combination of both technical understanding and the human element to be effective. Thanks to online learning options like study.com, Mind Tools, Coursera, Degreed, edX, ITPro.tv, Udacity, Udemy, and access to MOOCs from many universities there are free and low-cost learning opportunities that enable development of technical and soft skills.”

About the Survey

The Randstad Workmonitor was launched in the Netherlands in 2003, then in Germany, and now covers 33 countries around the world. The last country to join was Portugal in 2014. The study encompasses Europe, Asia Pacific, and the Americas.

The Randstad Workmonitor is published 4 times a year, conducted online with a rotating set of themed questions among employees aged 18 to 65, working a minimum of 24 hours a week in a paid job (not self-employed).

The minimum sample size is 400 interviews per country. The Survey Sampling International (SSI) panel is used for sampling purposes. The third survey of 2017 was conducted from July 18 till August 2, 2017. Respondents had an option to select multiple answers throughout the survey.