I have seen the pandemic inspire small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across industries to turn to a more digital business model to survive. From retail and healthcare to manufacturing, the change has been good for business, but the accelerated timeline has implications for those looking to re-enter the workforce – who may not find the same jobs. they left – and how companies attract and retain top talent.
Currently, the number of skills required for a single job is increasing by 10% per year, and a third of the skills that were in an average job posting in 2017 are no longer needed in 2021, according to Gartner. A solution? Workforce education or sponsored education programs, which create education and training pathways tailored to organizational and employee goals.
The benefits of workforce development and re-qualification programs
The value of most businesses has shifted from tangible assets such as real estate, machinery and equipment to intangible assets such as intellectual property, patents and brand reputation, making employees the most valuable asset. important for future growth. Companies that invest in employee growth and development by providing high-quality education and training opportunities not only deepen the skills of their employees to thrive in a digitally-driven post-pandemic environment, but also strengthen the global organizational agility as leaders around the world reinvent working in real time.
Specifically, organizations that educate or train their workers see a return on investment through a more engaged workforce, better progress in their diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives by making a learning experience. quality more accessible to people who have traditionally coped with higher than average recruitment and retention rates. The latter benefit is particularly valuable today, as attracting and retaining the best talent is one of the biggest challenges SMEs face, according to the NFIB. Adding continuing education and training in addition to higher salaries and bonuses makes compensation programs much more competitive.
Just ask Sarah Ferguson, Quality Assurance Specialist at Carvana, based in Tempe, Ariz., For a digital platform for buying and selling used cars. When we spoke, Ferguson emphasized the role his company’s workforce training program plays in his loyalty to the company. “I jumped at the opportunity to participate in Carvana’s sponsored education program and enrolled in Technical Communication at Arizona State University (ASU), where I am developing new skills. Without a doubt, the fact that the company I work for invests in my long-term growth motivates me.
She knows she’s not the only one feeling this. “The biggest stress in doing my first degree was the financial burden, so I couldn’t pass up the chance that my company would subsidize my education, an opportunity I never thought I would have,” Ferguson explained. “The university is getting more and more expensive every year, and when companies invest in and believe in their employees, I have a firm belief that employees will bring that motivation back to the company.”
Candice Smith, relationship specialist at Phoenix-based Desert Financial Credit Union, is enrolled at ASU under the Credit Union’s InvestED program, where she is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership. “Workforce training is a great incentive to stay with a company,” Smith said in a recent interview. “I see it as free money, better than tuition reimbursement. It really is priceless. I don’t know why more companies aren’t investing in their people.
The good news is that education and talent development is an increasingly high priority for businesses in the United States, according to Vivek Sharma, founder and CEO of InStride, a Los Angeles-based company that works with major higher education institutions and corporate clients to provide sponsored workplace education services. Sharma explained in a recent conversation: “With the acceleration of automation and digitization, organizational needs for technical, analytical and soft skills have changed.”
How to implement a successful program
To effectively improve or retrain a workforce, organizations must identify their goals early on and meet the needs of individuals so that they can progress successfully within the organization. Efforts must also strategically align with the qualities and skills companies would like to see in their future leaders.
A good place to start is a pathway program that maps training offerings to key areas of business growth, Sharma explained. Organizations can then develop an organized selection of learning paths that target desired skills with simple entry points for learners.
It is important for companies to measure their efforts and demonstrate their return on investment by tracking different areas of impact, such as talent attraction and retention, corporate citizenship, revenue and profitability, diversity and inclusion, etc. Figuring out what impacts you’re trying to generate and then collecting as much data as possible on those areas can get you closer to your goal and help you generate maximum impact. Set parameters to assess the progress of your program. Associate each goal with a goal to work towards and, most importantly, track progress quickly so you can anticipate any adjustments to the program itself or to your goals.
And keep in mind: you invest in people, and meaningful growth takes time.
“When employees have the confidence that their company is investing in their future, it makes a company a destination for talent,” said Sharma. In a tight labor market, every advantage counts.