ATLANTA, Aug. 9, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Despite the red flags raised last year as workers expressed concerns about their perceived lack of job skills advancement, new findings from the 2016 Emerging Workforce® Study (EWS) commissioned by Spherion Staffing reveal that employers and employees have made little progress to narrow the skills gap in the last 12 months. In fact, the study found that the skills gap actually may have grown wider.
Conducted online by Research Now among 416 U.S. human resource managers and 2,810 employed U.S. adults ages 18 and older, the 2016 EWS reinforced the skills gap's impact on both the current and future workforce. While employees fear their companies are not doing enough to prepare them to thrive, employers worry that their teams' skills development and training discontent will make already-challenging retention efforts even more difficult.
"Employees who believe their workplace does not provide relevant and practical skills development tools are more likely either to become unmotivated to seek growth opportunities or look elsewhere for positions more suitable to their abilities and training needs," said Sandy Mazur, Spherion Division President. "Either outcome is detrimental to long-term business success, and as our Emerging Workforce® Study found, both businesses and workers are taking a dangerous risk by ignoring these skills development disconnects."
The 2016 EWS found that employees are as equally concerned today as one year ago that their professional abilities not only are outdated, but will hinder their ability to move forward. Nearly one-third (32 percent) of workers believe their current skills will prevent them from earning a promotion. Likewise, a nearly equal number (35 percent) is concerned about falling behind in acquiring the new skills required to succeed in more advanced future positions.
As they work to overcome this confidence crisis, more employees are holding their companies responsible for their lack of progress. Nearly one in three (32 percent) does not feel his or her company has provided adequate skills training. Additionally, 40 percent admit they find it difficult to devote time to pursuing skills development opportunities.
Spherion also found that while employers believe they are making strides to address workers' skills concerns, significant room for improvement remains. Nearly half (45 percent) of companies say they have increased their investment in training and development programs during the last two years. In spite of these efforts, only a small number of workers (14 percent) would give their company's training and development programs an "A" grade.
So why are workers who say they welcome new approaches to skills development so dissatisfied? According to the EWS, this discontent may stem from perceptions that the training programs their company offers are not relevant. Forty-five percent of workers believe that company-provided development programs are not applicable to their day-to-day job needs. Furthermore, today's workers seem to lack trust in their team's ability to provide valuable direct training, with significant numbers considering third-party experts (34 percent) and online training and certification courses (23 percent) more credible educators.
An encouraging sign is that employers and employees appear to be on the same page regarding the main skills that will be required for future success, including problem solving, strategic thinking and the ability to understand and interpret data. The challenge for both parties remains finding the ideal strategies to enhance these skills, and ensure that workers feel prepared to meet the changing demands of their industry and individual workplace.
"Closing the skills gap is the responsibility of both employers and employees, and better communication can help eliminate some of the disconnects that have prevented progress," said Mazur. "Through more frequent and open dialogue, both parties can identify which types of training and development programs are the best match for individual needs and examine how workers can enjoy continuous growth at their company."
For more than 19 years, the Emerging Workforce® Study has tracked the shifting opinions and attitudes of workers and their employers in the context of ongoing social and economic events The 2016 study also explores opinions on themes such as top workplace concerns, wages and benefits, recruiting challenges, the transformation of the modern "office" and work/life balance. To learn more about the Emerging Workforce® Study, visit www.spherion.com/ews.
The 2016 Emerging Workforce® Study was conducted online within the United States between February-March 2016 by Research Now Group, Inc., on behalf of Spherion among 416 human resource managers. Results were weighted as needed to reflect the composition of U.S. companies, based on company revenue. An online survey of 2,810 employed adults also was conducted by Research Now on behalf of Spherion during the same time period. Results were weighted as needed for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income to represent the target population. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. A full methodology is available upon request.
Spherion Staffing Services is a leading recruiting and staffing provider that specializes in placing administrative, clerical, customer service and light industrial candidates into temporary and full-time opportunities. As an industry pioneer for more than 70 years, Spherion has sourced, screened and placed millions of individuals in virtually every industry through a network of offices across the U.S. To help clients meet their workforce goals, Spherion offers companies a unique combination of personalized customer service and in-depth knowledge and expertise of the communities where Spherion offices are located. Each local office is individually owned and operated by a team of staffing specialists who are well-known and acquainted with the community and supported by a strong network of talent. To learn more, visit www.spherion.com. Also, as part of one of the fastest-growing industries, Spherion is actively expanding into new territories, with more than 75 franchise markets available. To inquire, visit www.spherion.com/franchise.