HR Leads Business

Jul 19, 2018 | Tim Lemke, HRCI Staff Writer

Upskilling Takes on New Importance for Workers and Employers Alike

Companies and organizations succeed when they can find workers with strong knowledge and skill sets. But it’s become increasingly clear that in a tight labor market, those workers are not always easy to come by.

Increasingly, organizations are allocating resources to “upskill” workers with specialized training and education, and workers are appreciating the value of new credentials and knowledge.  

HR Certification Institute® (HRCI®) has recognized the need for flexible and on-demand ways for workers to supercharge their careers. Its new HRCI upSkill® offering is a suite of on-demand learning on specific  topics facing HR and non-HR professionals.

The Aspen Institute, which championed the UpSkill America initiative through its Economic Opportunities Program, observes that the upskilling movement is gaining momentum. The nonprofit think tank, which authored the Upskilling Playbook for Employers in 2017, says there has been a flurry of new companies including Lyft, Starbucks and Brinker International offering programs to train and develop workers, or offering free tuition or discounts.

“Workers are increasingly seeking out and succeeding with upskilling programs,” the Aspen Institute says. “And businesses and investors are recognizing upskilling’s importance. These are encouraging signs that the upskilling movement is gaining, and will continue to gain, momentum in the months and years to come.”

This comes at a time when employers continue to search for qualified talent in a tight labor market.

A June 2018 survey conducted by British recruiting consultancy Robert Half notes that 49 percent of businesses are struggling to find staff with the right skills. About one-fifth say they have given up trying to find candidates with ideal technical skills, and instead hire promising candidates and upskill them on the job.

On the flipside, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation writes that worker layoffs are always a possibility in an age when many tasks can be carried out by automation and artificial intelligence. Thus, the Foundation calls for a wider use of skills credentialing and training and development programs led by industry leaders.

Employees, too, can add knowledge and skills to expand their value to employers.

In the HR profession, it’s clear that employers value HRCI credentials. Over the years, tens of thousands of HR workers have successfully earned the aPHRTM, PHR®, SPHR® designations, just 3 of the 8 credentials HRCI offers.

But what if you are unsure that you have the time and energy to pursue a higher degree or advanced credential? The Productivity Commission in Australia notes that older workers, in particular, have many commitments that make it hard for them to take on a major upskilling effort.

“These workers may need longer time or self-paced courses that use multiple instructional methods to aid learning,” the commission says. “Moreover, older workers perform better in training that raises their existing skills than in new fields.”

Perhaps more bite-sized and on-demand options are part of the solution. Now, workers can boost their career potential further through HRCI upSkill. The first offering, HRCI Workforce Analytics upSkill, which emphasizes how to use people workforce data to make better management and business decisions, is available now.