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August 10, 2022

Mind the skills gap: Improving employee learning and development

Skills gaps undermine business continuity and competitiveness while also stifling employee growth and satisfaction. But organisations can elevate employee development by building a culture of learning.

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Who is really responsible for keeping employees' skills up to date? Personal development for employees may be a gray area, but when it comes to re-skilling and job training – that vital education that enables employees to meet goals – employers have an important role to play.  

Employer responsibility for training and reskilling is supported by the results of Ceridian’s 2022 Executive Survey. Seventy-two percent of our respondents said they believe employers have all or some responsibility in employee skill development.

Skills gaps have a significant impact on employers and employees alike today. And only 2% of our Executive Survey respondents said their organisation did not have any skills gaps. Let’s explore the current state of skills gaps and what organisations can do to resolve them.

Skills gap inaction

Although most employers assume responsibility for retraining their people, not enough are taking meaningful action to ensure it happens.

In our 2022 Executive Survey, we asked leaders what their organisations are doing to fill skills gaps. The top answer was “creating internal training programs for employees,” at 54%. Just over half (52%) said they were “investing in technology to identify/track skills gaps,” and the same number said they were “moving employees with key skills to higher impact roles.”

Only 40% of respondents said they are investing in subsidising external training programs. This is a huge opportunity missed, as external training programs can bring a dynamic, outside perspective, infuse fresh ideas and novel approaches, and ensure a more objective measurement of employee progress.

Close skills gaps through a culture of learning

What might your organisation do to close that skills gap and ensure your workforce is ready for tomorrow? The answer lies beyond a single training program or e-learning series. Now is the time to transform your organisation into a culture of learning.

Here are five ways to unleash this new learning and development culture:

1. Align employee ambitions with company goals

While it is vital to identify the skills gaps that exist in your organisation, understanding your employees’ needs, interests, and career goals is also important. This will help you better align your training initiatives with employee ambitions and passions, along with your company objectives.

Intentionally aligning personal and corporate goals sets you up for desirable outcomes that benefit everyone. Keeping that top of mind can propel your entire organisation forward on the path to growth, competitiveness, and a culture of innovation.

2. Set a regular schedule for learning initiatives

An occasional skills workshop or learning module is not enough. Take steps to support your people’s development with continuous learning, making skill-building part of their regular routine.

To compete for top talent by aligning with employee expectations, it’s essential to place a higher priority on regular employee training. According to research from Citrix, 82% of workers believe they will need to reskill or upskill at least once a year to maintain a competitive advantage in a global job market.

3. Accommodate different learning styles

Not everyone absorbs knowledge the same way. There are various learning styles – from auditory and visual to kinesthetic. A wise employer will ensure that employee training initiatives are delivered to accommodate many of these unique styles.

Take steps to cater to individual learning preferences. Allow employees to determine what, when, and how they learn. This will measurably accelerate the effectiveness of your training initiatives.

4. Embrace technology

Technology can be a powerful way to drive upskilling and retraining programs.  Yet just over half (56%) of our 2022 Executive Survey respondents indicated that they are using technology to upskill and reskill employees. And only 55% said they are using technology to understand their employees’ skills today.

Deploying technology to capture an initial baseline of employee skillsets – where they excel and what skills are lacking – is a great natural starting point for any training initiative. Technology can then be used to grow your training programs from there.

5. Provide training for all levels of the organisation

Training gives your entire workforce valuable knowledge and skills that ultimately support organisational growth and can give it a competitive edge. Each group of employees, naturally, will have different training needs. Customised training programs for these different levels of employees are essential, and the best way to conquer skills gaps.

Our 2022 Executive Survey identified a critical gap in employer reskilling: middle management training. Only 51% said their organisations currently have management training programs to support their middle managers. Be sure to include these essential employees in your training initiatives to ensure they have the skills and knowledge necessary to lead their teams into the future.

By transitioning now to a culture of learning, one where continual skills development is an essential part of your vision, mission, and roadmap, you can build a workforce ready for the future. Not only will your employees be better equipped to do their jobs and drive productivity, but they will also be more engaged, innovative, and likely to stay the course with you, whatever the future may hold.

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