- Sector-based training programs — as opposed to employer-based programs — can significantly improve workers’ earning potential, according to a December 2020 working paper from researchers at Harvard University, Microsoft and MDRC.
- Such programs often are found in manufacturing, healthcare and information technology, with a primary goal of opening doors for individuals with non-traditional backgrounds, the paper said. Perhaps most importantly, these programs provide training in transferable skills, according to the researchers, enabling participants to find work in higher-paying sectors and positions.
- For workers, such programs may fill an important gap, the researchers said, as "training for transferable skills valued by many firms in a sector may be underprovided through on-the-job training by individual employers given poaching concerns."
The researchers’ suggestion that employers may be reluctant to prioritize transferable skills training may be supported by other recent findings; nearly 60% of newly unemployed workers responding to a LiveCareer May 2020 survey said they could not identify their own transferable skills.
Some say the onus should be on public programs instead. A research and advocacy organization in December called on policymakers to support training in digital literacy, for example. Such programs could give workers "industry specific but transferable skills," the National Skills Coalition said.
More than half of workers responding to the LiveCareer survey also said they were unsure how to communicate their transferable skills on a resume. Numerous efforts are underway to address that issue.
Workers need an infrastructure, Alex Kaplan, global leader of blockchain and AI for industry credentials at IBM, previously told HR Dive. And IBM is working on a "wallet" — a place individuals can store and show skills they’ve gained during their career.