So what comes first, employees go learn or employers invest in learning? Many organizations offer tuition reimbursement but did you know that recent research found that only an “average 51% of financial benefits offered to employees is utilized annually”? What struck me was the different perspectives on why current workers are not willing to upskill and utilize these types of benefits. Employers said the cause was employee-based as seen in the chart with the employees being too busy to pursue learning. Academic institutions were raising their voice saying that people don’t understand the benefits advanced education can bring whether as a degree, certificate, or other credential.
I think the Org’s and the Edu’s are both missing the mark and the voice of the employee is represented by the data point highlighting the lack of time and I would offer it is a lack of WIIFM, What’s in it for me. What is the reason to invest personal time and personal funds upfront to add a credential if there is not a career path or promotional opportunity to show the employee the return on their investment? At best the message is if you invest in you then you will be better prepared for the next job, a job that may or may not be at the current organization.
Here is the WIIFM for the employer, it is to their benefit to create a career pathing model for roles they need currently and for roles they will be needing as they plan for the future. With an average of 10,000 baby boomers retiring each day in the U.S. the development of a career pathing process brings Human Resources, Learning & Development, leadership teams, and the business units together to strategically plan for growth. The career pathing process is a strategic tool that can engage employees around future job opportunities they can prepare for and the employer to have ready when they need the increased talent pool. With Millennials, whom we define as those ages 18-34 in 2015 being the largest group in the workforce we need to find ways to retain these current employees, and prepare them for leadership roles, as we lose the knowledge and experienced employees to retirement.
The results came from the Bridging the Talent Gap survey where Kentucky “employers say there aren’t enough skilled workers to fill those jobs. Currently, there are 51,000 open jobs in Kentucky.” This survey highlighted the lack of partnerships with colleges and universities while those institutions continued to highlight their scheduled class offerings and abilities to meet the changing workforce needs in a term-based environment. However, offering programs alone will not totally solve the problems employers are having. There are other issues at play when it comes to finding the right talent to fill job openings. Another barrier to educational attainment is the perception that there’s little value to higher education. For this circle to be complete the key player’s needs have to be addressed – the employee and WIIFM.
The Kentucky chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) was instrumental in obtaining the data used in this report. SHRM could be a key player in solving the real problem with its members being skilled in resource planning, benefits, recruiting and hiring. With 41% of the respondents stating they needed workers with certificates in their fields, the same number as those who said they needed employees with bachelor’s degrees currently there is no better time than now to begin planning what skills will be needed in 2, 3, 5 years. There are many models to look at with a recent initiative targeting the retail industry. The National Retail Services Initiative went across the industry from restaurants to grocery chains and from chain stores to big-box outlets with the result finding four job roles and seven competencies that were common. A key component of the career path is how each levels requirements built on prior levels as the individual moved from an entry level, individual contributor, role to the leader role. You can read more of National Retail Services Initiative Competency Model and find its companion piece the NRSI Competency Model Implementation Toolkit (and complete white paper).
There are people willing to invest their time and money to add new skills if they know there is a return on their investment. A career pathing model can clearly identify the needed work experiences, education, and training that an individual will need to advance into a new job, a new role. Learning is a strategic tool that can help an organization design a growth plan and provide for its own talent pipeline and show employees they have a future career within the organization. Developing and clearly articulating a career pathing process shows the employer and the employee WIIFM – a winning combination indeed.