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 organisation’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 organisations. 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 opportunity 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 prioritised, 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 organisation’s response to the pandemic, investment in skills, and ability to influence talent and business outcomes, as well as looking into how organisational performance factored into the equation. This classification system took into account the company’s profitability, net turnover and net promotor score (NPS), with those classifying as ‘high performing’ scoring highly on profitability and NPS with a low turnover.
Interestingly, those organisations 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 prioritise 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 all together compared to high performing organisations.
So, what can be done?
Aside from asking our dear friend the internet, it was evident through the survey that employees look to their organisation’s skills and development platform when searching for career development information. It’s clear then that an investment into an impactful skills and career development platform can act as a catalyst to shrink the growing skills confidence gap.
High performing companies know that investment into skills development is vital. Of course, corporate learning and talent programmes 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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