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TD Magazine Article

The ROI of Upskilling

Are learning programs having a tangible positive impact?


Mon Jun 03 2024

The ROI of Upskilling

Only 30 percent of employers believe frontline workers have the necessary skills to meet the demands of their business over the next five years, according to Room for Growth: A Survey of UpSkilling Approaches. Further, the 2024 report from UpSkill America and i4cp reveals that 13 percent of employers are incorporating generative artificial intelligence into learning programs.

Room for Growth defines frontline workers as hourly employees who make less than $22 per hour. Researchers surveyed hundreds of employers across the US and found that the most successful L&D programs focus on workers' needs, but that doesn't necessarily mean that employers are meeting those needs.


"While there are bright spots in our survey findings, many survey respondents indicated that they did not feel their upskilling programs were successfully meeting stated objectives," the report's authors write. "There are many opportunities for improvements across the board."

Organizations' investment is apparent. According to the Association for Talent Development's 2023 State of the Industry report, companies spent an average of $1,220 per employee on workplace learning in 2022. That on-the-job training could offset the lack of a college degree for potential job candidates. Room for Growth points out that "more employers are eliminating degree requirements from roles, diminishing the already weak signal shared between employers, education providers, and job seekers."

The report's authors break down the elements that make a successful program based on three specific areas of upskilling.

Internal education and training courses. Seventy-two percent of respondents offer formal internal education and training programs. Program success hinges on a combination of communication, technical skills, interpersonal skills, and critical thinking. To focus on frontline workers, employers should focus on hard and soft skills.

Apprenticeship and work-and-learn initiatives. Only one-third of employers use apprenticeship or work-and-learn programs. Use the hire-to-train approach to improve employee retention.


Tuition assistance programs. Seven out of 10 respondents offer tuition assistance when employees enroll in a college, university, or training organization. Companies that have found success with that type of program ensure employees have a "safety net" to help them make better decisions and use company resources.

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June 2024 - TD Magazine

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