The Upskilling Disconnect

Upskilling employees is a trend that should be embraced by HR leaders, but a survey's findings conclude otherwise.
By: | February 20, 2018 • 4 min read

Upskilling, the concept of getting employees the ever-evolving skills they need to contribute to an organization’s success, is a workplace trend that HR needs to embrace, according to a new post on Forbes written by Ed Krow, a member of Forbes Coaches Council.

But HR leaders have so far proven resistant to such concepts, Krow writes:

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“The challenge for HR is that HR has traditionally viewed talent management and learning as classroom training. Classroom training has a place in some regards, but it really is becoming a thing of the past. Individualized talent management is the focus. What does Angela need? What skills does she need to meet her goals and benefit the company? How can we personalize a learning and development program so we all achieve our goals?”

This all sounds good in theory. So why isn’t HR actively adopting this approach?

“Well, it’s certainly more work,” Krow writes. “The average HR person would much rather throw an entire work group into a meeting for an hour and check a training box. But as fast as business is changing today, that kind of training doesn’t really work anymore.”

Indeed, a disconnect of sorts appeared when Randstad US recently asked workers to consider a variety of types of upskilling opportunities over the last 12 months. It found that while 82 percent of employees say lifelong learning is important, nearly 40 percent report their employers don’t provide for upskilling opportunities.

The Randstad US survey also uncovered other findings around the upskilling concept, which paint a picture of employers failing to recognize the opportunities for specialized employee training:

  • 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 or pay out of their own pockets to upskill themselves.
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“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, senior vice president and global head of learning and development at Randstad US. “Employees who are given opportunities to continually advance their professional proficiency are what will keep a company relevant and stay ahead of the competition.”

Web Editor Michael J. O’Brien has been with HRE for more than a decade and holds a degree in economics from Boston College. He can be reached at [email protected]

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