Greg Cappelli, CEO, Director & Chairman, Apollo Global, Inc,
They say good help is hard to find, and according to employers across the globe it’s only getting harder. The 2015 Talent Shortage Survey, recently released by ManpowerGroup, found that 38 percent of employers globally are having difficulty filling jobs. This marks not only a growth over recent years, but the highest percentage for that number since 2007.
As it gets more difficult to find skilled workers, it should be no surprise that this challenge is also causing more concern for employers. The 2016 Annual Global CEO Survey from PwC found that, for the first time in eight years, having workers with key skills was one of the biggest worries in the minds of business executives. In the U.S., one in three CEOs surveyed (34 percent) said they were very concerned about how this might impact their organization’s growth.
Rather than depending on finding new talent, employers should consider a new, practical, practicable way of creating them—upskilling.
Employers are discovering that bringing in new skills doesn’t require poaching new people, or replacing old ones. Instead the best approach seems to be one of the simplest: provide your current employees with paths and educational opportunities to hone the type of skills that are in high demand. The logic is fairly straightforward: it’s easier to teach someone who is loyal new skills than to teach someone who is skilled new loyalties.
Some of the benefits to employees are obvious: upskilling efforts can help them grow, get an education and gain skills that will keep them competitive in a changing workforce.
The potential to avoid the constant cost and panic of seeing high turnover amongst skilled employees provides an obvious financial benefit for employers as well. Investing in current employees is also more likely to engender loyalty, especially as opposed to simply replacing workers whose skills are outdated or poaching talent that will soon leave you for the next highest bidder. Additionally, when employers develop upskilling initiatives and partner with education providers they have a voice in tailoring their program and ultimately developing programs that are focused on skills that meet their specific needs. When educators, employers and employees approach the skills gap together, the opportunities for innovative, joint-sum solutions abound.
One company that has been leading the way in developing these solutions is AT&T. What makes AT&T’s efforts truly unique, is their decision to partner with other education providers to develop a nanodegree program based in data science, mobile and web development. The curriculum is tailor-made, so that it helps open the door to new opportunities for employees while also helping AT&T close the skills gap.
Another exemplar in this area is Siemens, which has adopted the German apprenticeship model. One of their first programs began through a partnership with a community college a few years ago. When Siemens built a gas turbine factory in North Carolina they partnered with Central Piedmont Community College to provide students the opportunity to complete a three and half year paid-apprenticeship in mechatronics. The program started off so well they have already started reiterating on that formula in Alabama, Georgia, and California.
Dan Beckerman, CEO of Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), another company exemplifying the idea of upskilling, summed up the idea perfectly when announcing a new Talent Management Program for the company’s 27,000 employees. “Our company is only as good as our employees and it’s important that we invest in their growth and development,” wrote Beckerman.
Of course, while there are some great examples of upskilling in action, we need to make sure such programs become the rule not the exception. Executives express interest in these types of partnerships, with as many as nine out of ten companies expressing interested in partnering with schools to develop career-relevant programs. Still it seems this interest has yet to manifest action.
The ManpowerGroup Talent Shortage Survey found that companies simply aren’t doing much of this type of innovation at the moment—as few as one in five employers are taking the step of providing additional training and development for their workers.
This is clearly a missed opportunity when you consider that 70 percent of operation expenses can be the result of human capital costs. Training and upskilling initiatives merit far more attention as ways of keeping older employees up to date on the latest skills and newer employees engaged through growth opportunities.
The bottom-line is if employers want to have the workforce of tomorrow, they need to start working with educators and innovators so they can begin upskilling their employees today.