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Whose responsibility is upskilling? The push-pull between employers and employees

Responsible for upskilling

Do you know that employees are now more likely to judge a potential job role on how well it will position them for career longevity? This makes sense when we consider that as the rate of technological change accelerates and the challenge to stay employable by keeping our skills relevant intensifies, candidates want to secure their futures through on-the-job training.

Here at Hays we recently surveyed 1,253 professionals and 951 employers to test attitudes to skill building. Almost all (96%) of the professionals surveyed consider upskilling as ‘important’ or ‘very important’, 84% would not consider a role that lacked skills development and nearly half (47%) wouldn’t join an organisation that didn’t offer formal training opportunities.

For some, not receiving time off to attend seminars or conferences (34%), a lack of coaching (27%) or mentorships (24%) and not providing time off for university or TAFE studies (18%) are additional turn offs. Plus, 64% said they were more likely to join and stay with an organisation that uses the latest technology.

In the book, the 100-Year Life, Living and Working in the Age of Longevity, London School of Economics professors Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott suggest our careers may now span 60 to 70 years making constant learning and upskilling critical to our economic and personal wellbeing.

Meanwhile a report by Deloitte, Careers and learning, Real time, all the time, suggests the half-life of learned skills is falling rapidly while the longer working life of people means “the concept of career is being shaken to its core.

“In the past, employee learning was to gain skills for a career; now, the career itself is a journey of learning,” the report authors said.
The question is: Who should be responsible for keeping people upskilled? Individuals or employers?

Interestingly, 77% of the employers we surveyed said they were more likely to shortlist a qualified candidate who regularly upskills and 59% actively encourage employees to become self-directed learners.

What’s more, in today’s world of work employers can quickly identify potential candidates who are continuous learners.

A great example of this is the ‘Find & Engage’ model of recruitment, which hones in on the right person for a role. The ‘Find’ element draws on data science and artificial intelligence (AI) to reach inside candidate pools to shortlist talent that fits the brief. The ‘Engage’ element works to uncover and leverage a candidate’s professional and personal aspirations to add a very human element to the process.

However, should employers rely on workers to acquire the skills they want? Given that the Fourth Industrial Revolution is reshaping how every industry and profession operates via digital transformation and technologies such as AI, do employees have the resources and knowledge to develop the skills employers want them to have?
People today are working with technology that didn’t exist two or three years ago. Our survey found only 35% were even aware of the latest technology and digital trends relevant to their job or industry.

Furthermore, PwC’s 2017 Digital IQ Survey found that only 52% of organisations consider their digital skills as “strong” - a big drop from 67% in the 2016 results. The annual research also found almost half of employers needed to upskill their existing staff in current and emerging technology.

The solution
The answer for organisations is probably a combination of hiring in active learners while also upskilling existing employees.

Professor Gratton suggests government should also play a role by “schooling” people throughout their lives but employers must drive skill building at work and help employees understand their options to skill up no matter their age or career stage.

If you’re not sure where to start, my colleague Marc Burrage shares good advice in this blog: conduct a skills assessment before making your training decisions. Yet according to our survey, just 18% of employers conduct a skills assessment before deciding on what training to offer each employee while 36% do so only for select staff. Clearly there’s a void to fill here to ensure training benefits both an organisation and individual employees.

With candidates looking to join organisations that provide upskilling as part of the job, the message is clear: partner with your employees to promote their career longevity for mutual benefit.

This blog is the fourth in our series on ‘Upskilling Always’. You may like to read our previous blogs: Skills to keep you employable during the Fourth Industrial Revolution,‘Upskilling always’ is the new normal. Here’s 7 ways to do it and Showcasing you’re a constant learner to potential employers.

 

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