More than a third of U.S. employees surveyed say they have done nothing in the past 12 months to upskill – defined as attending workshops, completing online courses, receiving consultation from a specialist, participating in personal coaching sessions or pursuing further education.
The dearth in actual upskilling is despite the fact that 67 percent of U.S. employees say they feel they need more training and skills to stay up-to-date. While more than 80 percent of employees feel they have a responsibility to upskill, only 40 percent of U.S. employees say they would arrange for and pay out of their own pockets to upskill themselves. Nearly 40 percent of U.S. employees say their employers have not offered and paid for anything related to upskilling.
“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,” says Michelle Prince, Randstad’s global head of learning and development. “Employees who are given opportunities to continually advance their professional proficiency are what will keep a company relevant and stay ahead of the competition.”
There are generational differences in the way respondents describe the types of skills they need to improve, with 66 percent of 18 to 34-year-olds saying they need to strengthen their personal skills, while only 28 percent of respondents 45 years and older say they needed to boost their personal skills. However, 70 percent of the older respondents say that vocational upskilling was critical to their development.
It’s paramount to stay up-to-date within one’s industry to avoid becoming obsolete at work, Prince says. “You also have to be able to apply that in the context of being an effective communicator and collaborator when working with others,” she says. “Upskilling efforts therefore require a strategic combination of both technical understanding and the human element to be effective.”
Prince recommends that employees take advantage of free and low-cost learning opportunities for both technical and soft skills, including online learning options like study.com, Mind Tools, Coursera, Degreed, edX, ITPro.tv, Udacity and Udemy.
The Randstad Workmonitor is published four times a year, conducted online with a rotating set of themed questions among employees aged 18-65, working a minimum of 24 hours a week in a paid job (not self-employed). The minimum sample size is 400 interviews per country. The latest survey was conducted from July 18 until Aug. 2.