IT Staffing Report: Nov. 2, 2017

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Disconnect in upskilling outlook, Randstad Workmonitor finds

A discrepancy exists between employers’ and employees’ attitudes toward upskilling, according to Randstad’s third-quarter Workmonitor survey.

While more than 80% of employees feel they have a responsibility to upskill, many US employers and employees are not taking action for upskilling opportunities in the workplace. More than one-third of US employees surveyed reported they have done nothing to upskill in the past 12 months; upskilling is defined as attending workshops, completing online courses, receiving consultation from a specialist, participating in personal coaching sessions or pursuing further education.

The survey asked US employees to consider a variety of types of upskilling opportunities over the last 12 months:

  • 67% said they feel they need more training and skills to stay up-to-date.
  • Nearly 40% said their employers have not offered and paid for anything related to upskilling.
  • 40% said they wouldn’t arrange for and pay out of their own pockets to upskill themselves.

The study also queried the types of skills employees seek to improve and revealed that prioritizing personal versus vocational skills runs along a generational divide. Sixty-six percent of 18 to 34-year-olds feel they need to strengthen their personal skills; however, only 28% of those 45 years and older said they needed to boost their personal skills, with 70% reporting vocational upskilling was critical to their development.

“There are many things companies can do to help their employees’ upskill and prepare for jobs of the future,” said Michelle Prince, senior VP, global head of learning and development, Randstad. “It is in a company’s best interest to help their people grow in their profession or into leadership roles, as this can offset the severe skills gap happening in the market and increase employee engagement and retention. Employees who are given opportunities to continually advance their professional proficiency are what will keep a company relevant and stay ahead of the competition.”

Soft skills are rapidly becoming a more valuable skill in the US workforce, particularly for millennials. This is especially true with the rise of artificial intelligence.

“People are realizing there’s more to being a good worker than knowing how to do your job,” Prince said. “Learning what is needed for the future, optimizing the tools your company provides and staying current on the industry are important to avoid becoming obsolete at work. You also have to be able to apply that in the context of being an effective communicator and collaborator when working with others.”

Prince advised that upskilling efforts require a strategic combination of both technical understanding and the human element to be effective. She lauded online learning options like study.com, Mind Tools, Coursera, Degreed, edX, ITPro.tv, Udacity, Udemy, and access to MOOCs from many universities that provide free and low-cost learning opportunities that enable development of technical and soft skills.

The Randstad Workmonitor covers 33 countries around the world. The third-quarter study was conducted online from July 18 to Aug. 2. The minimum sample size is 400 interviews per country.

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