Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Business Case for Upskilling: How Companies Benefit When Service Workers Improve Their Skills

The Business Case for Upskilling: How Companies Benefit When Service Workers Improve Their Skills

Limited math, reading, and technology skills are a widespread challenge among US workers, as documented in NSC’s Foundational Skills in the Service Sector report. But companies that invest in their workers’ skill building can see payoffs not only for the workers themselves, but for the business bottom line.

Data from a rigorous international assessment show that low foundational skills are prevalent across the service sector: 62% of American workers in the target occupations have low English literacy skills, 74% have low numeracy, and 73% have limited digital problem-solving skills.1 At the same time, many workers with skill gaps are loyal and dedicated employees. A majority (58%) have been with their current employer for at least three years, including 36% who have been with their employer for at least six years.

Companies can capitalize on their employees’ interest in upskilling by facilitating their participation in learning opportunities, including through reducing logistical and other barriers to participation. Businesses that are successfully addressing skill gaps in their workforce are doing so through a variety of tactics. Many involve partnerships with community colleges, nonprofit organizations, or other training partners. Some businesses offer on-site training to workers during the work day or after their shifts, while others support the ability of their employees to attend classes off site. Examples of employer skill-building investments include:
• Sponsoring an apprenticeship program for nursing home workers
• Informing the design of a community college program for customer service specialists
• Offering a blended learning program that allows restaurant workers to participate in both in-person and online classes to obtain their high school equivalency and earn industry-recognized credentials.

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