Learning and development is under fire this week, as Spherion Staffing released it’s 2016 Emerging Workforce Study (EWS). The survey indicates that while corporate spending is up for workforce training by as much as 50%, many employees are still not getting the right training to help them stay competent in their roles.
Survey shines spotlight on gaps in company learning programs
The EWS online survey of 416 US human resource managers and 2,810 employed US adults aged 18 or older highlights the gaps between what employers think they should be offering employees and what employees are expected to know in order to succeed in their given occupations. It’s critical to note that the survey was focused on the impact that this factor may have on current and future workplaces. The major takeaways from the survey were:
- One-third of workers do not feel that their job skills will help them earn a promotion at work in the near future.
- 45% of workers believe that company-provided development programs are not applicable to their day-to-day job needs.
- Almost one-quarter of the employees said that they consider online training and certification from a third-party source to be the best avenue for career skills development.
- 14% of employees would grade their company an “A” for the availability of training resources.
These are sad statistics considering the amount of time and money that’s being allocated to developing and enhancing the skills of the workforce. The Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends survey advised that the entire learning technology market grew around 27% from the previous year and is estimated to be a $4 billion industry. In 2015 alone, $400 million was invested in corporate and independent learning platforms. Not surprisingly, the Deloitte survey also showed similar figures – they found 28% of management respondents saying that they were ready to face workplace capabilities.
The outcome of inadequate training is that, “both businesses and workers are taking a dangerous risk by ignoring these skills development disconnects.” Sandy Mazur, Spherion Division President said in a recent press release. When employees don’t believe that they can get the career development support that they need, they will often jump ship and head for an employer who can.
What’s going wrong?
According to the Spherion survey, there is a gap between what employers think employees should know and what employees think they should know in order to experience positive career growth. For example, employees and employers may not agree on specific skills that can often be dictated by each job type – such as technology, specific processes and the changing demands of the industry. However, employers are aligning with employees in terms of soft skills like problem solving, strategic thinking and data analysis.
“Closing the skills gap is the responsibility of both employers and employees, and better communication can help eliminate some of the disconnects that have prevented progress.” says Mazur. In other words, it should be a mutual commitment to making sure that what employees need to learn is being addressed via blended learning opportunities. Employees who choose to seek outside learning to support long term career goals should be supported as much as those who participate in corporate training sessions.
Maybe when company training departments start looking at employee learning as an organic process that each employee can guide, instead of forcing employees to accept limited in-house training options, the dialogue can take place. It's about managing employee expectations.
Ways to improve corporate learning and close the gaps
There are some steps that any organization can take to start making strides towards a more successful employee learning and development program.
- Conduct a skills assessment. First, each organization must carefully determine the skills and knowledge for every job type. This can be done by way of job shadowing and surveying current employees. Make note of any gaps that have been filled by other means, such as independent learning.
- Decide what training needs augmenting. Once a list of missing skills and knowledge is determined, it’s time to review current training programs to see what’s being covered and what needs supplementation.
- Develop or purchase the training. It can be tempting to conduct all training onsite, but it can be more productive and cost effective to outsource employee development needs to a quality vendor. Get a gauge of preferred learning styles directly by communicating with employees.
- Monitor and improve learning initiatives. Over time, there should be some signs that indicate the learning and development program is gaining traction. Look for better employee performance metrics, better retention rates, and more satisfied workers.
The development of employees should be an integral part of your company’s succession planning efforts. By committing to the career development of your employees, you are already closing the gap and getting a solid return on investment in your people.