Upskilling. It’s a word you may not be familiar with, but it could be the solution to an oncoming employment crisis.
So what is it?
Upskilling is workforce development and training designed to improve employee performance and help them advance in their careers. According to Upskill America, when employees are assessed on their skill level and are matched with training programs to build them, this can broaden their career options, lead to increased job security and promote upward mobility.
There are an estimated 24 million frontline workers in America who face an uncertain economic future without much promise for career advancement. At the same time, more employers are reporting a critical shortage of trained laborers. According to the Georgetown University Public Policy Institute Center on Education and the Workforce, there will be a shortage of 5 million skilled workers by 2020. Upskilling is a way to close this skills gap.
There is plenty of evidence that shows upskilling is great for businesses too. By investing in their current workforce, smart companies are retaining more workers, building a positive workplace environment and increasing worker productivity.
Earlier this year, retail giant Walmart announced an initiative to raise employee wages and launched training academies across the country. These academies train current hourly-wage employees for better-paying jobs in management or in other sectors of the company. More than 200 training academies, many located near existing Walmart stores, are expected to graduate 225,000 workers by 2018.
Louisiana-based healthcare company Ochsner Health System is addressing a critical shortage of trained healthcare workers in the state through tuition-free Medical Assistant training. So far, more than 400 nonclinical staff have taken advantage of the four-month program and Ochsner reported a 10% boost in retainment of employees who received this training. The program has been a success and was expanded in 2016 to attract unemployed and underemployed workers in and around New Orleans to give them additional career pathways.
Upskilling helps companies increase their profit margins as well. A report from the Lumina Foundation noted that Cigna’s Education Reimbursement Program generated an extra $1.29 in savings for every dollar invested in the program between 2012 and 2014. Regions Bank saw a 10 percent return on its investment with a similar tuition-reimbursement program.
For more about the benefits of upskilling:
- Read Upskill America’s handbook for employers on upskilling.
- Find out how Chipotle is retaining more of its employees with its College Assistance Program.
- Learn how a New Zealand mother of four upskilled her way from barista to auto mechanic through an apprenticeship.
- The need for upskilling isn’t limited to the U.S. Reports out of England, Ireland and India discuss how upskilling can provide solutions to the skills gap in their own countries.
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