More than ever before, education benefits area vital concern for US businesses. The skills gap has been an ongoing issue for businesses and this problem is increasing in severity according to the IBM Institute for Business Value. Unemployment rates are down, skills are become obsolete faster than ever before, and current and future jobs require new skills. For today’s workers and those who will be entering the workforce, technical skills are crucial and soft skills are becoming even more important.
Consider what this means for today’s workforce.
The half-life of skills is continuing to shrink. The half-life of skills used to be 10-15 years; today 40 percent of employers estimate that a skill is usable for four or fewer years. Employees need continual retraining to be able to use new technology. However, in addition to using technology, companies need employees who can communicate effectively, think creatively, and apply critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Employees must be able to analyze large amounts of data and use creative thinking to innovate and be productive. The IBM report shows that in 2014 it took about three days to close a skills gap. In 2018 it took 36 days.
The tools to bridge the skills gap are readily available to employers through strategic administration of their education benefits. Education benefits will yield the highest return on investment for employers who consider these points:
First recognize that continual learning and education are keys to closing the skills gap. Hiring new employees, alone, is not a successful long-range solution. Creating a culture of continual education is. Strategically align employee education paths with career paths and positions that will need filling. Planning and alignment can move employees ahead in their education, remove barriers to completion and retain employees who can help close skill gaps.
Second, be transparent with employees about market changes and how they can and will impact skill needs at your company. Make employees aware of how adapting AI will change the way work gets done and how they can be a part of the change. Employers will be able to realize the benefits of AI and bridge shifting skill demands if they upskill their current workforce’s technical skills and cultivate their abilities to problem solve, work in teams and be creative.
Third, look inside your company for the most readily available source of talent to close the skills gap. Student loan assistance through Edcor’s Freedom can help employees who have already attained higher education continue their path of life-long education and skill acquisition. Tuition assistance will ensure that employees working towards attainment will have skills that increase company growth potential and productivity.
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