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Invest, Upskill, Excel

  • 3 Min Read

New D2L research shows employers and employees identify enhanced learning and development as keys for success.

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Executive summary

Two trends are actively shaping workforce conversations in 2024:  

  1. A tight labor market has made recruitment and retention a top priority and underscored the need for investments in skills development for new and existing employees. 
  1. The rapid pace of technology-driven transformation has further increased pressure to keep workforce skills current.  

A continuous learning culture is a key marker of high-performing organizations, but keeping up with changing skills needs presents new challenges for even the most established employers as the shelf life of skills grows shorter.  

To better understand the perspectives of both employers and employees in navigating this critical issue of workforce upskilling, early in 2024, D2L commissioned Morning Consult to conduct two surveys: one of learning and development leadership and another of full-time employed adults. The findings highlight the critical role of skills development in addressing talent retention and readiness for future disruption. 

Insights from employers: 

  • Recruitment and retention are the top human resources concerns for 82% of organizations, outranking concerns about employee engagement and productivity, leadership and management development, and adapting to innovation and technology. 
  • An overwhelming majority—92%—of learning leaders agree that effective training and development programs contribute to higher employee retention.  
  • Employers recognize the value in investing in the development of their current workforce, with 55% saying they would invest more in developing current employees compared with only 12% who say they would invest more in new hires to address their top human resources concerns. 
  • Although 41% of employees prefer online education or training to in-person-only offerings, only 29% of organizations report using technology to deliver training.  

Insights from employees: 

  • 83% of employees recognize that ongoing skills development is important to their overall job performance, signaling a strong interest in continuous upskilling opportunities. However, only half of employees (51%) have completed any formal education or training outside work in the past five years.  
  • The primary motivators for employees pursuing additional education or training are increased earning potential (64%) and career advancement opportunities (44%). Employees are most likely to say that relevance to their work (58%) or opportunities for practical application (41%) are the most important aspects of an effective training program. 
  • 41% of employees would look to their current employer first for building job- or industry-specific skills, while only 17% would look to a community college and only 14% would seek out a university for the same training. 
  • For employees, time constraints (42%) and a lack of motivation (35%) are the top-rated barriers to pursuing additional training or education at their jobs. One in three employees (33%) reports seeking out skills development or training opportunities only as needed. 

Invest, upskill, excel

Effective learning and development offerings have the potential to be real differentiators for employers—if they’re done right. Read our new paper to explore these findings and our recommended actions in greater detail.