Importance of Upskilling Employees in a Competitive Talent Market

Happy employee upskilling for her job

The skills gap is a hot topic right now for everyone, including the C-suite and boardroom. In a recent study, PwC found that 74% of CEOs are concerned about skills. But it's not just employers who are fretting about the skills gap. That same study by PwC found two out of five employees believe their jobs will be obsolete within five years.

Why the focus now? Skills have always been important, of course, and the skills gap is not a new concept. The digital transformation that started a few years ago sent everyone scrambling to get their employees skilled up to meet that new demand. But the issue has taken on heightened importance recently as Americans return to work.

Amid this widening skills gap, the hiring market is tightening due to a variety of factors, including people's reluctance to return to the world of 9-to-5 after working remotely for more than a year, and their desire to find work that's more fulfilling and benefits that are more meaningful. Businesses across many industries are reporting difficulty in filling the 9.3 million job postings out there currently. Candidates aren't simply searching for a paycheck; they're searching for fulfillment. That's why HR pros are gearing up for the most competitive hiring market in years. They're polishing up and bringing their ‘A’ game when it comes to benefits, salaries, responsibilities, opportunities for growth, and more to attract top talent.

Skills gap + tight hiring market = HR challenges

Let's look a little deeper at some of the reasons why the skills gap is widening and the hiring market is tightening.

COVID-19. One big, sweeping change for business that the pandemic left in its wake is the way work gets done. Employees, many of whom had never worked at home, were suddenly setting up shop at their kitchen tables. It meant people needed new competencies immediately, like computer skills to master Zoom and other remote collaboration platforms, the skills to work independently, and communication skills to compensate for not being able to stop by a coworker's cubicle to chat quickly about a project.

Employers were reassigning responsibilities and tasks on the fly, repurposing roles and adapting in all sorts of other ways to the immediacy of the situation. Automation has been, and will continue to be, a huge ally in this effort. The problem was (and is), companies needed workers with the skills to support that technology.

Boomer exodus. Boomers are certainly at or nearing retirement age, so Boomer retirement isn't exactly front-page news. But the pace of it is. Pew Research tells us that in the third quarter of 2020, three million more Boomers retired than the same time during the previous year. As companies downsized, it made sense for many Boomers who were nearing retirement age to take that gold watch and start their next chapter. But as they do so, it contributes to the widening skills gap — they're taking with them decades of institutional knowledge. It's the "thing or two" they've learned on the job throughout their careers that their employers will now be lacking.

Increasing demand. Our generation's Roaring '20s era is about to begin, as mask requirements are lifted, more people get vaccinated, and all of us feel empowered to live a more "normal" life again. It means demand for, well, most everything, will skyrocket, translating into a business boom that will require more bodies (with different skills) just to keep up with it all.

What it means

So, what does this all mean for HR? There's a very urgent need to upskill current employees for new and more meaningful roles. Investing in your own people makes sense, especially because 94% of employees will stay with a company longer if it helps them learn, grow, and advance up the ladder.
Skills most in demand include:

  • Technology skills, like software engineering and data analytics
  • Computer skills
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Adaptability
  • Remote collaboration
  • Communication

Do you notice a trend? All of them have to do in some way with remote working and our "new normal" going forward. Technology skills will be huge, but not everyone is going to become a data analyst. We'll also need people who have skills that computers can't replicate, like emotional intelligence, communication, adaptability, and collaboration.

It's clear how important upskilling is today. Bright Horizons® is here to help.

How Bright Horizons EdAssist Solutions can help you upskill your employees

Bright Horizons EdAssist Solutions® helps employers craft a strategic approach to offering education benefits to their employees. It's proven to drive powerful recruitment, retention, and talent development results that are a boon to companies and employees. Here's a snapshot into the options we offer:

Enterprise Education. Organization-wide education engages and motivates people at every level — it supports your company's diverse learning needs at all rungs of the ladder. One powerful plus: it helps people see the road ahead within your organization and gives them the tools to upskill to achieve their goals.

Tailored Education. This option is perfect for you to address your specific talent challenges, from hard-to-fill roles to emerging skills gaps. You can target the education needs of a specific employee group or position, support frontline employees by removing financial and other barriers to education, and meet regulatory requirements through education and training.

Start-to-Finish Coaching. A coach is an invaluable ally to employees who strive to upskill and move up the ladder. A coach can guide employees through the complex education landscape and increase their success rates in the process. They can also help expedite degrees and reduce costs by helping employees find credits for life experience and prior learning.

Additionally, Bright Horizons EdAssist Solutions® allows you to centralize all of your programs, including education assistance, student loan support, and dependent tuition on one platform that's easy to use and automated for efficient administration.

At Bright Horizons, we're passionate about helping companies upskill their workforces. If you'd like to learn more, please get in touch with us today.

The Great Resignation: Career Development Strategies to Win the Talent War [Webinar]

As businesses struggle to recover from the pandemic, they find themselves facing an unexpected talent shortage - and many are discovering that investing in education provides a solution. Join us on 8/24 to hear from HR and learning leaders who’ve led the way in rolling out innovative workforce education programs, which have shown impressive results in employee retention, engagement and reskilling.

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Written by: Bright Horizons Blog Editor

August 11, 2021

About the Author

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The Bright Horizons Blog Editor frequently posts on the real solutions that meaningfully support employees, advance careers, and drive the world’s leading brands. The Editor curates the latest news, trends, and challenges facing HR pros because your time is scarce. Follow the Bright Horizons Blog to receive this insight in your inbox.