During times of change and uncertainty, some organizations stop spending money—and especially money that goes to employee training and development. However, given the emerging trends of cross-functional teaming and digital fluency needs, this might be a short-sighted approach. Here are two trends you may encounter at work, and your possible training takeaways.
Cross-Functional TeamingTrend: Employees are starting to move around organizations with greater speed. Consequently, they may need to know more skills than were required in the past. Even if they received a solid university education, employees might be moved to a role where nothing they learned for their degree program applies.
For instance, it’s not unusual for someone trained in finance to end up in marketing, and vice versa. And even those schooled and working in marketing often find it beneficial to have cross-functional expertise in finance. If employer training can’t keep up with the reskilling and upskilling requirements of cross-functional teams, this could lead to gaps.
In the DeVry University Career Advisory Board’s 2018 survey, Talent Activation, the Employee Experience, and Skill Development, 77 percent of respondents agreed with the statement: “In my organization as a whole, I am concerned about employee skills gaps.”
In the study, the greatest skills gaps were observed in these areas:
- technology/digital fluency (cited by 62 percent of respondents)
- communication (56 percent)
- business acumen (48 percent)
- diversity and cultural awareness (46 percent)
- customer service (42 percent).
And, when asked about barriers to closing skills gaps, respondents cited “a too-small training budget” most frequently.
Takeaway: Skills gaps can affect employees at all levels. Is your organization cross-functional teaming to help close these gaps? This could require larger training budgets, not smaller ones.
Workforce-Wide Digital FluencyTrend: The DeVry University Career Advisory Board’s 2017 Job Preparedness Indicator survey defined an applied technology skill as something that is needed by employees to leverage the right technology to do their jobs. This is another way to talk about digital fluency, and the research indicated that a majority of employers is now looking for these skills in new and existing employees.
Training existing employees in applied technology skills is a major challenge, in part because current professionals did not receive this type of instruction via traditional education paths. In response, many survey respondents said they are ensuring that their workforce continuously trains and retrains on applied technology skills through:
- development of internal courses (40 percent)
- internal training (38 percent)
- tuition reimbursement (35 percent)
- external training (31 percent).
Only one in four respondents said their organizations are taking no actions to develop this skill set.
Takeaway: As discussed above, developing skill sets can be expensive, especially when one round of training isn’t enough. Consider having a specific and ongoing budget set aside for applied technology skills, in addition to other training requirements.