- Despite the turmoil of 2020, employers largely either maintained or increased their investment in skills training and development, according to a study from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Society for Human Resource Management released May 26.
- Twenty percent of employers studied intend to increase their investment in worker skills training in 2021. Barriers to ongoing investment remain, however; money and staff time remain large obstacles for employers to overcome. Some employers indicated they needed guidance on what programs would work best.
- The study also noted the ongoing interest from employers in public-private partnerships that upskill workers. Even outside the impact of funding from government sources, 72% of HR pros surveyed said both the private and public sectors could collaborate to create talent development programs, including skill-based training and paid internships.
The pandemic put a spotlight on skill development as the talent market saw sharp upheaval during the adjustment to working remotely or in new environments. But even as some employers and workers took on new upskilling commitments, the pandemic may have prompted a "big drop" in leadership skills training and formal assessments that could lead to a "lost generation" of leaders, a Development Dimensions International report from May revealed.
Additionally, some myths persist that may block employers from creating skills training programs, Lindsay Witcher, a Randstad Risesmart exec, wrote for HR Dive. Worries about employee resistance — or that employees will take their new knowledge only to run to a new company — may frighten employers, even as HR professionals, employees and governments alike "agree that upskilling and reskilling add value to an organization and the economy as a whole," Witcher wrote.
The pandemic encouraged new levels of learning partnership, however, which may speak to the SHRM and Chamber of Commerce results. Recent partnerships have sprung up between governments and private companies, such as Bank of America partnering with a Virginia program to train up workers for in-demand jobs, and between disparate companies themselves. The SkillUp Coalition, formed in July 2020, works with companies and nonprofit organizations to train displaced workers for high-demand jobs in their local communities.