Our initial research during the height of the pandemic last year uncovered what we at Cornerstone have coined “the skills confidence gap" essentially the gap in confidence levels between employers and employees on an organization’s skills development support. Two years later, we wanted to see whether the pandemic served only to exacerbate this problem, or whether it has improved skills development initiatives across different organizations. We conducted another round of research and found that, unfortunately, the gap seems to be widening.
Let’s delve into the details
It seems that while many employers may think they are giving their employees adequate opportunities to learn and develop, this effort is often not felt by the employees themselves. In fact, during the pandemic, our research showed that only 60% of employees were confident that future skills were being prioritized, compared to 90% of employers. Since then, employee confidence levels have seen a further 5% drop.
We expanded our scope of research this year to include how employees and employers felt about their organization’s response to the pandemic, investment in skills, and ability to influence talent and business outcomes, as well as looking into how organizational performance factored into the equation. This classification system took into account the company’s profitability, net turnover and net promotor score (NPS), with those classified as ‘high performing’ scoring highly on profitability and NPS with a low turnover.
Interestingly, those organizations classed as ‘high performance’ actually had a notably smaller skills confidence gap compared to those that were classed as ‘average performing’ or ‘laggard’. High-performing companies had a skills gap of only 11%, compared to laggards with a startling 42%. The difference between these two categories was also evident when asked about plans to prioritize skills development. 42% of high-performing companies have already started, with 72% intending to address this next year. However, laggards were nearly three times more likely to stall skills development altogether compared to high-performing organizations.
So, what can be done?
Aside from asking our dear friend the internet, it was evident through the survey that employees look to their organization’s skills and development platform when searching for career development information. It’s clear then that investment into impactful skills and career development platform can act as a catalyst to shrink the growing skills confidence gap.
High-performing companies know that investment in skills development is vital. Of course, corporate learning and talent programs remain important and critical, tightly aligned with company priorities, however, leaders urgently need to supplement this and give employees access to a platform that allows them to be accountable for their own skills and career growth, where AI plays a key role in detecting skills, recommending relevant learning materials that are easily accessible, and matching employees skillsets and aspirations with the right career paths. Essentially, if employers want to achieve that high-performing status, they need to start putting their people first.
In order to prepare for the future, companies must invest in their people’s skills now.
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