COVID-19 has impacted work in unprecedented ways, with 30 million American adults reporting having lost
their jobs or businesses since the beginning of the pandemic. As the U.S. economy recovers from the impact of COVID-19, upskilling programs — defined as training or education that teaches new skills or advances or upgrades existing skills — present a compelling opportunity for workers and businesses. Upskilling can be an opportunity
for displaced workers to move into other careers, and potentially for businesses to attract employees during the current hiring crunch. To better understand this opportunity and assess the impact of upskilling on workers’ lives and careers, Amazon commissioned Gallup to conduct the most comprehensive study to date on upskilling — The American Upskilling Study: Empowering Workers for the Jobs of Tomorrow.
In June 2021, Gallup surveyed more than 15,000 U.S. adults who are either employed or in the labor force (i.e., not currently employed but have plans to return to work) and asked them about their interest in and experiences with upskilling. More than half of these workers (57%) say they are “extremely” or “very” interested in participating in an upskilling program, while modestly fewer (52%) report having participated in an upskilling program in the past 12 months. Of those interested in upskilling programs, 63% say that the motivation for doing so is to advance their careers.
Participation in upskilling is particularly high for Black workers, with 64% having done so in the past 12 months, followed by 63% of Hispanic workers. Asian workers (51%) are substantially less likely to have attended an upskilling program in the past year, while White workers are among the least likely to have done so, with about half (46%) saying they have.
The data reveal that U.S. workers and their employers receive clear benefits from upskilling programs, including an additional 8.6% in annual income (about $8,000 on average) for workers, promotion opportunities, higher job satisfaction, greater retention and an increased standard of living. Workers say they have a very high interest in employer-provided upskilling, primarily to help advance their careers, but it is a demand their employers are only partially meeting.
As for the types of upskilling programs workers are most interested in, upskilling opportunities provided by their employer and held during work hours are most preferred, as they help workers overcome the two main barriers to upskilling that this survey revealed: workers’ lack of time and money. These preferences are reflected in the types of programs participated in most by workers over the past 12 months — 36% of survey respondents participated in employer-provided upskilling programs, compared to 21% who participated in a program they sought out on their own.
For employers, there are also clear benefits in providing upskilling opportunities related to attracting new employees. Sixty-five percent of workers say the opportunity to participate in an upskilling program is an “extremely” or “very” important factor in deciding whether to take a new job, and 61% cite it as “extremely” or “very” important when weighing the decision to remain at their current job.
Unfortunately, the research also revealed that upskilling opportunities are disproportionately offered to the highest-skilled workers. Many of those who want it most — those who express the greatest desire to learn skills for a new career and have the least confidence in their current skills — are the least likely to have participated in upskilling or to say their employer provides it. The challenge to employers is to expand upskilling opportunities to those in the lowest income earning groups and with the lowest current skill levels. Such an expansion would allow for more upskilling opportunities for those workers who may derive the most benefit from upgrading their skills.
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story @ Upskilling: a powerful employee benefit and recruiting tool