The employee training landscape looks a lot different than it did 20 years ago. More companies are adopting technology to improve the experience. As with anything you use in your operation, this comes with a cost. Even hiring one new person to join your team requires a financial investment. According to a 2016 State of the Industry Report released by the Association for Talent Development (ATD), an average of $1,252 is spent per new hire on training and development initiatives.
Money is easy to measure, but it isn’t the only resource spent on employees. You and your staff will also invest time providing instruction. ATD reported that organizations spend approximately 33.5 hours of training on each new hire.
It’s not all a loss, though. There are enormous financial benefits for companies that provide a full training program. ATD also found that businesses who offer comprehensive training programs usually produce 218% more income per employee compared to those that do not. That means that a quality training program will more than pay for itself.
There are long-term considerations. Losing an employee can be very costly. According to Employee Benefit News, the average employee exit costs around 33% of their annual salary. The business they left also loses productivity as well as time, resources, and recruitment fees.
Filling in knowledge gaps is one way to help minimize losses and maximize employee retention. According to a 2018 Bridge survey, offering career training and development would prevent 86% of millennials from looking for a new job. A Udemy report released the same year found that 84% of American workers believe a skill gap exists, and 51% stated that they would quit their job if training weren’t provided.
While there are many factors at play, it is clear that training plays a powerful role in employee satisfaction and retention. And those two elements influence productivity and profitability.
What Causes Workforce Skill Gaps?
There are three common causes of skill gaps. Understanding each will help you learn how to adapt your training program to welcome the best and brightest into your workforce.
- Retiring Baby Boomers – The baby boomer generation was born between 1945 and 1964. They make up around 76 million Americans and are contributors to the rise in the average employee age across the country. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, around 25% of the workforce will be over age 55 by 2020. Many are already retired, with millions more joining them daily.
The issue is that older employees usually do not have the experience or skills to keep up with modern technology. Without further training, they will never have them. Meanwhile, those who retire take their skills and expertise with them.
Some industries are harder hit than others. For example, it takes an average of 8 to 10 years to train a worker in the oil and gas industry. As seasoned workers leave, newcomers face a lengthy development and training model. Many end up quitting long before they are proficient in their job role. The retired worker isn’t replaced, which creates a growing skill gap.
- Less Interest in Trades – Young people are concerned about their financial future. They tend to look for options that will give them greater earning potential. This, along with a poor perception of skilled trade careers, puts many on the path to college. The belief is that a college diploma will allow the student to earn a higher paycheck.
While this is the case in some professions, it varies. The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) reported that the pay range was very broad based on the type of degree earned.
In the meantime, businesses must find ways to train employees to develop the trade skills needed to fill necessary job roles.
- Antiquated Educational Methods – Traditional educational methods aren’t as effective as they were in the past. Skill demands and technology are constantly changing and growing. There is now an emphasis on the need for a strong foundation in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) subjects.
Even though this is an obvious need in the general workforce, many colleges still focus on foundational skills and general studies instead. Graduates end up leaving with a degree but little to no experience or knowledge in their industry, job role, or employer-specific requirements. They are unprepared, which can make it more difficult to find work and more challenging for businesses to find qualified people.
How Can eLearning Help Your Workforce Close Skill Gaps?
eLearning is everywhere now. It’s easy to implement and costs less than traditional training programs. It also provides benefits that are in line with what a younger workforce expects to find when learning a new skill. How can you leverage eLearning to fill in the knowledge gaps in your workforce?
- Use an LMS to Identify Knowledge Gaps – Many LMS platforms include built-in reporting tools. These can show you where knowledge gaps exist. You can see which courses workers have completed. This will help you decide what material should be added next and what may need improved or removed from your training program. You can also use this information to create refresher courses or new programs that allow seasoned employees to develop their skill set.
- Attract the Best Candidates – Training and career development opportunities are important to the new generation of workers. Providing the courses and resources they want will attract more candidates and allow you to be more selective about who you hire.
- Make Learning as Accessible as Possible – Thanks to mobile learning, training can be done anywhere. And that’s what many potential hires want. Greater flexibility allows employees to train whenever is most convenient for them, which makes them more likely to complete courses and pursue new skills.
- Celebrate and Reward Achievement – Give employees another reason to work through training content with gamification. Many LMS platforms now offer this feature. Leaderboards create a sense of friendly competition, while awarding points and badges measures success.
- Give Workers a Choice – Many eLearning systems include choices that give workers a sense of autonomy. They can choose the direction of their learning, which provides them with control. Participation in the process increases engagement and motivation.
- Foster a Culture of Ongoing Learning – A business that has a culture of ongoing learning is more likely to close skill gaps. Reward employees for reaching their training goals and furthering their career paths. This is something that should happen from the top down and include learning and development staff and managers as well as employees.
- Onboard Employees Faster – Some executives believe that the onboarding process should take as much as a year while others think it should be as short as possible. Either way, it takes time to get new hires up to speed. That means that even if you hire someone to fill a knowledge gap now, you still must wait for them to get through the process. eLearning allows employees to work efficiently, but at a comfortable pace, so they get the most benefit out of their initial training in less time.
- Increase Job Satisfaction – The more employees you keep, the fewer skill gaps you will have to deal with in the long run. A 2019 LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report revealed that 94% of respondents would stay with a company longer if more resources were invested in learning. Turn your business into a highly desirable place of employment, and skill gaps will start to fill themselves.
- Harness the Power of Microlearning – Microlearning can be used to teach and reinforce soft and hard skills. This method delivers bite-size pieces of information that employees can digest quickly. Some LMS platforms include tests or quizzes that check for areas of difficulty, then delivers additional microlearning sessions to strengthen knowledge retention. This can lead to a broader skill set for each employee in less time.
The Next Step in Closing Skill Gaps
eLearning is the next step in closing skill gaps. It helps you figure out what your workforce doesn’t know and provides solutions to deliver effective training material. It’s cost-effective and can have long-term financial benefits like improved employee retention, higher productivity, and a greater return on your training investment.