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Employee Education: the Answer to the Skills Gap in the Workplace

As a business owner or manager, have you noticed how the nature of work is changing rapidly? Experts believe two major forces are causing it. Among others, emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality, robotics, and the internet of things (IoT) are advancing automation in the workplace. Two, disruptive forces such as the gig economy, diversity in the workplace, generational change, and the pandemic, having the biggest impact of them all, brought to light pressing workforce
issues.

With these changes, one thing has become certain: there is a growing skills gap problem in the workplace, and employers are finding it hard to keep up. The skills that businesses rely on and value have changed. As a result, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), companies are struggling to build a highly-skilled workforce. Unfortunately, this has a negative economic impact on businesses.

Did you know, employees are eager to advance their careers through learning new skills? They’re relying on their employers to help them get the education they need. Sadly, employers are not always aware of this. However, according to the Harvard Business Review (HBR), there are missed opportunities for both employees and employers.

In this context, companies must understand why investing in employee education and offering it as an employee benefit is important for their business’s growth and the workforce behind it.

What Is Employee Education?

Employee education is a broad term used to describe learning, training, and development methods to help employees gain new skills to advance their careers.

Providing training and development for employees is reasonable. It helps them improve and maintain the skills they need to accomplish their job. Still, many employers believe that encouraging employees to obtain education may qualify them for a better job in another company and leave. If this is your concern, it’s perfectly valid.

However, you should also consider that employees value learning as part of their skills enhancement. This improves employee satisfaction, and as a result, they perform better in their job. More importantly, it increases loyalty to you who provided for their continued education. They will not jump ship at their employer’s expense.

Why Employee Education Is Important

The desired outcome of increased satisfaction and loyalty is improved productivity and employee retention. Aside from this, employee education allows businesses to remain competitive, according to the SHRM. Through different forms of training and development, you can align your employees’ skills with your company’s needs. As a result, you can address any ongoing skills shortages your business is facing. This allows your company to adapt to changing business structures amid the pandemic.

Employee education can also help companies create a culture of agile learning. This means that with proper education, employees can adapt to dynamic work environments, shifting market demands, and ever-changing protocols.

Training and development also promote inclusion, equity, and diversity. Your company may be paying for your employee’s education, but you are also saving on hiring new employees. With employee education, you are re-skilling and up-skilling your current employees, enabling them to move up the corporate ladder. This provides equal opportunities, making your employees know that they are included in your company’s growth.

How to Address the Skills Gap through Employee Education

The SHRM suggests different methods of providing employee education such as coaching, mentoring, job rotation, job shadowing, and succession planning. While these are the most common approaches in training and development, there are many other techniques worth considering.

First, you can partner with educational institutions. Local universities and colleges can provide employee education. You only have to be diligent with entry preparations. For example, there are certain criteria you must meet to comply with Harvard admission requirements. Check them beforehand.

Alternatively, you can also start your corporate university like Microsoft, LinkedIn, and PwC did.

Another way of providing employee education is through online classes. Because of the pandemic, there is increased use of online learning. Before, organizations mostly used classroom-based learning. Today, employees and trainers can communicate online. Trainers provide instructional materials to employees while facilitating the learning process. Employees, meanwhile, receive their training at their own pace and at their most convenient time.

Online learning can also help your company reduce training costs and travel expenses. With online courses, you don’t have to hire a trainer. You also don’t have to provide travel expenses for employees when they go to training facilities.

It is a known fact that not many employers wish to provide employee education benefits to their employees. Both the HBR and SHRM hope this will change. According to them, the country requires a skilled workforce for economic growth and global competitiveness. However, if business owners know the value of employee education, they can also train future leaders in their company who can help them achieve their business goals.

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