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Unlocking employee potential: Navigating the skills development landscape in the modern workforce

Learn why 74% of Millennials and Gen Z consider changing jobs – and discover actionable HR strategies for skills development and employee retention in this comprehensive guide.

A young professional woman sits at a counter working on her laptop wearing headphones.A young professional woman sits at a counter working on her laptop wearing headphones.

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Insights from Ellen Raim, Founder of People MatterWe focus more on solving than preventing People problems.

In a recent study, Workplace Intelligence highlighted a significant trend that could reshape the future of the workforce. With 74% of Millennials and Gen Z employees considering a job change due to a lack of skills development opportunities, it's crucial for organizations to understand and address the evolving needs of their workforce. But it can be hard with lean teams and L&D budgets. Read on for key takeaways and strategies that won’t add more to your already full plate.

The motivation behind skill development

The study revealed that 78% of employees feel concerned about lacking the skills needed for career advancement.

The pandemic added to this uncertainty, with 58% fearing their skills are outdated. The good news? 89% of employees are eager to enhance their skills, with 76% crediting the pandemic as the motivation.

  • Employees are motivated by more than just higher pay. 48% seek better work/life balance, and 41% desire a sense of purpose.
  • Despite 78% acknowledging the benefits of their company's learning and development programs, access to desired programs remains an issue for many.

Actions for HR + people leaders:

  • Make learning accessible: Ensure L&D programs are accessible to all employees — with components tailored to individual needs.
  • Connect learning to purpose: Showcase how skills development aligns with personal and organizational growth.
  • Regularly assess skill gaps: Conduct regular assessments to identify and address skill gaps, tailoring training programs accordingly.
  • Expand educational support: Consider offering more extensive educational support, including tuition assistance and partnerships with educational institutions.

Challenges + potential departures

Over half of the surveyed professionals foresee challenges in advancing their careers or transitioning to new roles or industries. Alarmingly, 74% of Gen Z and Millennial employees are prepared to leave their current roles due to insufficient skills-building support or limited career mobility options.

  • 56% feel advancing their career will be difficult, while 57% anticipate challenges in transitioning to new roles or industries.
  • Two-thirds of employees express the likelihood of leaving their current employer within the next year due to limited opportunities for skills development and career advancement.
  • 87% of employees seeking a new job consider a strong skills development program important in their decision-making process.

Actions for HR + people leaders:

  • Address career transition concerns: Develop programs that make it easy for employees to transition within the company, offering employees diverse paths for growth.
  • Enhance mobility options: Provide clear pathways for career advancement and mobility, showcasing opportunities for employees to explore different roles within the organization.
  • Invest in comprehensive skills development: Allocate resources to holistic skills development programs that address both current job requirements and future industry trends. Partnering with a modern L&D provider like Electives can help you retain key employees without the administrative burden.

Corporate initiatives + employee expectations

Corporate initiatives serve as a model for the support employees seek. The Workplace Intelligence study emphasizes that nearly 9 out of 10 employees prioritize potential employers with strong skills development programs, abundant career advancement opportunities and pathways to different job or career tracks.

Actions for HR + people leaders:

  • Invest in upskilling programs: Develop comprehensive foundations training and upskilling programs that cover a range of technical and non-technical skills.
  • Communicate company commitment: Clearly communicate the organization's commitment to employee growth and development in recruitment materials and internal communications.
  • Align training programs with industry trends: Ensure that training programs align with current industry trends, preparing employees for the future of work.
  • Integrate skills development in recruitment: Highlight the organization's commitment to skills development during the recruitment process, attracting candidates who value continuous learning.

The road ahead: Committing to growth and success

In today's competitive job market, organizations must recognize the evolving needs of their workforce. Prioritizing accessible, purpose-driven and comprehensive skills development programs addresses current concerns while positioning companies as leaders in the competitive talent market. By investing in the growth and development of their employees, organizations can secure a more sustainable and prosperous future.

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