Many of the largest employers in the country are changing the way they offer their employees training and education benefits.
In some cases, it is to capitalize on rapid technological advancements and the feeling that employees need to be retrained more often than in the past. But it’s also because there’s a bit of an arms race between major employers to offer educational benefits and a post-pandemic rethinking by many workers about what they want out of their jobs.
“It’s an employee market — employees are looking for something different from employers,” Catrina Ward, director of the nonprofit Jobs for the Future, told a panel at the SXSW EDU conference in Austin this week. “Half of American workers right now — that’s 100 million workers — believe they’re going to need some sort of new skill set in the next five years to get ahead in their careers. And they want that learning to come not only from traditional educational sources, but also from their employer.”
During the panel, representatives from Sam’s Club, JP Morgan Chase & Co., and the certification platform Degreed highlighted the trends they see in workplace learning. Amongst them:
Workers will learn that is directly linked to jobs. “If it doesn’t lead to a job, it means nothing to that employee,” said Kim Gregorie, executive director of Learning & Talent Solutions at JPMorgan Chase.
Data will play a greater role. Employers are increasingly using human capital management systems to document employees’ skills and help match what they can do with other opportunities that may arise within the organization, added Gregorie, who expects that trend to grow. .
Companies will move away from the classroom model in favor of a mobile approach to education. Sam’s Club can provide some training on handhelds while employees work in the stores, noted Jennifer Buchanan, a global learning and talent development executive at the retail giant. She expects more companies to move to that model and move away from the idea of meeting in classrooms for training at set times.
Degrees get shorter and stackable. Employers are looking for more short courses and programs for employers so they can gain new skills without leaving their jobs. Buchanan of Sam’s Club predicted that so-called “stackable” degrees — short certificates that can be taken in order to count to a greater extent — will grow because of this.
Skills become king. As companies get better at measuring and tracking skills, education origins will matter less, argued Janice Burns, chief people officer at Degreed. “It’s no longer about who you know and what you know, but about what you can do,” she said.
It’s important to note that these are trends according to major employers – and it’s a vision that companies want to see most, not necessarily what employees would want most. For example, employees may prefer more options that could lead to them switching to other companies or industries, although a company is less likely to offer such an advantage.
Correction: This article originally had the title of Janice Burns of Degreed wrong.