Employers Worry, But Move Slowly To Address Skills Gap

Skills Gap

Both employers and employees continue to worry about whether the workforce’s skills align with the changing needs of business, despite months of discussion about the necessity of upskilling.

To hear them speak at UNLEASH World in Paris last week, corporate leaders increasingly see cost-effective learning as a business imperative. Now we find that those informal conversations are backed up by research from the business and technical consulting firm West Monroe Partners. And yet many organizations seem to be moving slowly.

In a new report, The Upskilling Crisis: Effectively Enabling and Retraining Employees for the Future, West Monroe said 56 percent of employers believe they face a moderate to severe skills gap. Meanwhile, 60 percent of their employees believe that their current skills will become outdated to some degree within the next three to five years.

Corporate leaders increasingly see cost-effective learning as a business imperative. Yet many organizations seem to be moving slowly. #HR #HRTech #Learning @westmonroe Click To Tweet

Despite that consensus, employers are making some fundamental mistakes in their approach to reskilling. For one thing, they may not be offering enough of it. The report noted that 33 percent of workers haven’t been trained on new technologies they’ve been assigned to use. That, West Monroe said, is sure to “impede adoption and stifle business outcomes.”

Also, the report said managers are a key component of efforts to align skills, the workforce and the business. But nearly two-thirds, 63 percent, of organizations haven’t provided managers with upskilling resources. Sixty-five percent believe managers need upskilling or reskilling themselves. And more than a third, 39 percent, don’t think managers have the time to help employees upgrade their skills in the first place.

“The survey results strongly support the need for significant investment in manager development and enablement if organizations are to realize the impact of digital transformation on the bottom line,” said Michael Hughes, leader of West Monroe’s Operations Excellence practice.Before implementing any sort of enablement technology, organizations need to consider the employee journey and how the selected tools will add value.” However, he added, “only 16 percent of those surveyed do so consistently.”

Despite all this, the report shows employers aren’t simply wringing their hands. It said 70 percent have introduced at least one new technology designed to increase employee capacity, and workers agree these tools are helpful. Sixty-one percent of employees believe technology helps them deliver higher quality output, while 56 percent agree that it allows them to work more efficiently and frees time for additional tasks.

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Engagement Falls in Priority

Often, learning and upskilling are discussed in terms of employee engagement, and engagement is usually cited in the context of recruiting and retention. But when employers were asked what value “employee enablement” technology brings to their organization, improving the employee experience was cited by 53 percent—compared to 78 percent who spoke of efficiency and 71 percent who said productivity.

Similarly, when asked why they were implementing such technology in the first place, 68 percent said it was because the workplace is becoming increasingly digital and 67 percent said employees need new efficiencies so they can spend more time on value-added tasks. Just 41 percent said they needed to increase employee engagement.

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