Lifelong learning is critical in this fast-changing economy, yet fully 77 percent of knowledge workers do not believe that learning will have a significant impact on their ability to do their jobs. This was the surprising finding of a study by the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, which surveyed 1,056 knowledge workers across Europe on why they were not adopting a continuous learning mindset.
The results, released earlier this month, also found that a surprising 65 percent of respondents believed their current skill set would sustain them throughout their careers.
No time, and the training is irrelevant
It may not be learning in general that the workers feel is unimportant, but the specific types of learning opportunities they are offered--partly because they are unable to take up the opportunities in the first place.
In the Asia Pacific, a LinkedIn survey from earlier this year found that as many as 45 percent of employees who quit their jobs do so because of lack of training and development. The survey’s findings indicated that the gap is not because the employers fail to provide such opportunities--rather, the opportunities are offered, but employees simply do not have the time to take them up. Another major issue raised by respondents was that the training and development opportunities provided do not match what employees want.
This matches the Cognizant survey, which also found that the majority of workers feel that they would learn more effectively if they were able to dedicate more working hours to the training, and if they were offered more customized or personalized training.
Based on similar research, Robert Hoyle Brown, Vice President, Center for the Future of Work, Cognizant Technology Solutions at People Matters TechHR Singapore will present actionable advice and guidance on how to navigate the age of AI, Algorithms and Automation.
Employers don’t know what they want to achieve
Employees have a reasonably good idea of what they need. But employers, it seems, do not, and that may be another reason why training is perceived as irrelevant. The Cognizant survey found that more than half of workers are concerned about their employers’ ability to prepare them for the future of work, and that the career model practiced by many employers de-incentivizes learning by restricting workers to specific job roles and linear hierarchies.
Similarly, a US-based study on workforce development by the RAND Corporation earlier this year found that unclear career paths, unequal access to training, and rigid, outdated training systems are the greatest barriers to upskilling employees.
So what can be done?
Workers’ perceptions will only change if employers change first. To begin with, employers need to get a better grasp of what they want from their people, now and in the future. The World Economic Forum has recommended going through a strategic workforce planning process that will help companies identify strategic job functions, project future talent demand vs. attrition rates, and local trends over the long term.
Secondly, employers need to start measuring the effectiveness of training, and not just in terms of how many people attended a workshop or course. Cognizant found in a separate survey that 92 percent of employers did not effectively measure the outcomes of training--meaning that they are investing in learning and development initiatives without fully understanding the quality of their returns or if they are even getting returns at all!
Finally, and most importantly, employers must provide their workers with the tools and resources to learn--including time, funding, and access to personalized training where necessary.
Hear Robert Hoyle Brown, Vice President, Center for the Future of Work, Cognizant Technology Solutions speak on the topic '21 Jobs of the Future: Coming Roles in HR When Machines do Everything' at People Matters TechHR Singapore on 20th February, 2020.
Click here to know more about the topic and the conference.