Learning & Development

Does Your Company Offer Opportunities for ‘Upskilling’?

A new survey finds a discrepancy between employers’ and employees’ attitudes toward “upskilling,” defined as attending workshops, completing online courses, receiving consultation from a specialist, participating in personal coaching sessions or pursuing further education.

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The survey, from HR services provider Randstad US, finds that while more than 80 percent of employees feel they have a responsibility to upskill, many U.S. employers—as well as employees themselves—are not taking action for upskilling opportunities in the workplace. In fact, more than a third of U.S. employees indicate they have done nothing to upskill in the past 12 months.

Lack of Opportunities and Initiative

The survey asked respondents to consider a variety of upskilling opportunities, and relate these opportunities to their experience over the last 12 months. Survey findings include:

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

The study also looks at the types of skills employees seek to improve, and finds that prioritizing personal versus vocational skills runs along a generational divide.

  • 66 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds feel they need to strengthen their personal skills.
  • Only 28 percent of those 45 years and older say they need to boost their personal skills, with 70 percent reporting vocational upskilling is critical to their development.

Finding Solutions

“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 at Randstad. “Employees who are given opportunities to continually advance their professional proficiency are what will keep a company relevant and stay ahead of the competition.”
Randstad notes that soft skills are rapidly becoming more valuable skills for the U.S. workforce to possess, particularly for Millennials. This is especially true with the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), the firm notes. 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.”