Upskilling is the Ultimate Work Perk 

Published on November 7, 2019

In the never-ending race to find top talent, recruiters are often faced with a hard truth: job seekers are looking for more than just the “right” job.

That’s because the “right” job in today’s landscape means more than a reasonable salary and a couple of weeks of vacation. Even extra perks like free snacks, cold brew on tap, ping pong tables, and work lounges are not working to attract potential hires.

What do they want, anyway?

So, what is it that today’s prospective employees are looking for in terms of perks and benefits? According to survey data referenced in a recent BCG report about the “Reskilling Revolution,”  upskilling and educational opportunities are higher than ever on job seekers’ minds. The study revealed that today’s job seekers value learning and training opportunities and career development options more than job security and financial compensation.

Read that again: employees want learning and training opportunities more than they want job security and higher salaries.

Why might that be? Well, job-seekers and employees alike are beginning to understand that when upskilling and future-proofing aren’t part of the equation, there is no job security. They are afraid of being phased out, and that fear means that they no longer care about free snacks at work – they need to ensure they actually have a workplace to go to in ten years.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that 1.37 million workers will be displaced from their jobs in the next decade. While there are several contributing circumstances, automation and technology advancement are the primary factors leading to this displacement. So, that fear they have? Not completely unjustified.

Employers are in for a shock

What does this mean for employers? For starters, it means reconsidering stocking the company refrigerator with craft beer and, instead, evaluating if the company’s employee benefits packages are meaningfully adding to the lives of their workers. C-suite leaders must understand that it is in their best interest to offer opportunities to future-proof their employees and workplace. More importantly, they have to realize that other companies are already working to do just this. Amazon, for example, is making a $700 million investment to retrain 100,000 employees by 2025. If that tells us anything, it’s that if employers want to stay competitive in the hunt for top talent, they have to add digital learning and upskilling opportunities as a benefit. If they don’t, they may create an unattractive work environment and face the consequences of a growing skills gap.

In the mix

For employees and job-seekers, this can mean a few things. First, advocating for upskilling and training opportunities as a part of a company benefits package is more important than ever. 40% of online live students report career advancement within two years of taking a course.

But only 20% of American students are fully sponsored by their companies. It is important that employers are aware that anyone is capable of taking advantage of digital skills training, but when they do it for their own employees, they are more likely to benefit. After all, engaged, passionate and resilient employees enjoy a bump in productivity of up to 22% according to multiple studies, which ultimately leads to an improved bottom line.

How bad is it?

The good news: introducing digital skills training and ongoing learning and skills development initiatives for your employees is relatively simple and cost-efficient. The World Economic Forum reports that it is now cheaper to reskill (or “re-train”) current employees than to hire new ones, and with ongoing innovation in automation and artificial intelligence, it is now objectively “in the financial interest of a company to take on” the reskilling of employees.

The writing on the wall is this: The World Economic Forum report found that 54% of all employees will require significant retraining in the next few years, revealing that if you think you won’t be affected by a skills gap, you’re wrong. Employers with forward-focused talent strategies are proactively addressing this reality by taking advantage of digital learning platforms and supporting their employees’ efforts to upskill.

So what can we do? Here’s where to start: employers, consider adding digital learning and upskilling opportunities as a benefit to improve your own workforce and stay competitive among top talent. Employees and job seekers, do your due diligence and advocate for your right to better prepare yourself for the future. Everyone wins in this scenario.

Jason Field is a News Columnist at Grit Daily. He is the CEO of BrainStation.

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