Learning & Development

Is On-the-Job Training the New Graduate Degree?

It’s impossible for educational institutions these days to stay on top of continuing advancements in technology to ensure employees are able to hit the ground running when they land their first jobs.


Technology Training a Must-Do in Every Industry

Consider the situation in retail: According to Visier Founder and CEO John Schwarz, “The number of tech-related job openings among major retailers has risen dramatically in recent years—up to 23% in 2019 from 10% in 2016.”

That’s at all levels of the organization, including the front lines, where retail clerks are increasingly called upon to deal with artificial intelligence (AI)-driven tools to help them help their customers more efficiently and effectively.

Schwarz explains that businesses like Shopify, Chase, Amazon, Walmart, and AT&T are developing education programs to address changing job demands. Today’s employees value training, he notes, pointing to Glassdoor reviews for his own company, a workforce analytics start-up in which more than half of those posting “mention education as a significant draw.”

Companies Making Major Investments in Training

Major companies are taking note and investing big to ensure their staff are getting the training they need and value. Schwarz points to several examples:

  • Amazon has committed to investing $700 million to retrain a third of its U.S. employees by the end of 2020, specifically focusing on software engineering and IT support.
  • Microsoft is focusing on ensuring its employees are well versed in AI and has plans to upskill 15,000 people by 2022.
  • Walmart is investing in high-tech customer service training, using “virtual reality goggles to simulate a rush of shoppers on Black Friday.”
  • Shopify has collaborated with area universities to create an accredited 4-year “dev degree.”

While smaller organizations may not have the budgets to commit to these types of expenditures, there are steps they can—and should—take to make sure employees are being kept up to date on technology and its potential to impact their jobs.

As Schwarz says, “Employers that don’t offer some form of training or education will almost certainly suffer from crippling talent shortages—if they’re still around at all.”

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