Skip to main content

Global survey unveils the latest skilling trends, gaps and opportunities

Randstad RiseSmart survey finds that 72 percent of employers offer continual skilling opportunities, but 91 percent believe that learning would be more effective with expert guidance

SAN JOSE, Calif., March 1, 2021 — As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to exacerbate the growing skills gap, leaving businesses searching for qualified talent, employers are increasingly prioritizing employee skilling. According to “Skilling Today,” a global report released today by Randstad RiseSmart, 68 percent of HR professionals whose organizations undertook skilling initiatives in 2020 said they request or require their employees to upskill or reskill to meet changing business needs and 72 percent make skilling opportunities continuously available for career development. Despite the recognized importance of skilling, the study revealed two surprising findings: most HR leaders felt that learning journeys would have been more effective with expert, human guidance and employer-sponsored skilling options are still not fully inclusive.

Based on a survey of 1,099 HR professionals and 1,142 employees, across eight countries and 20 industries, Skilling Today provides a global perspective on the state of reskilling and upskilling.

Across all respondents, both HR professionals and employees agree that upskilling and reskilling add value to an organization. Of those that offered skilling, nearly all employers (98 percent) said employees either fully or partially used the skills they learned to benefit the business, and 94 percent of employees said they either fully or partially put their new or refreshed skills to use in a meaningful way. 

According to the survey, employers and employees agree that skilling could be more effective with additional guidance and a skills gap analysis, including a better understanding of what skills gaps currently exist and where relevant learning opportunities can be found. In fact, only nine percent of HR respondents said they’re confident that employees can guide their own learning journeys effectively. When HR professionals were asked what would have helped employees make better choices about which courses to take or which on-the-job experiential learning opportunities to seek, top responses included:

  • Assessments of skills, career interests and possible career paths (57 percent)
  • Access to a broad view of learning opportunities, including courses, certifications, academic degrees and experiential learning (50 percent)
  • Guidance with selecting the best-fit skilling options (43 percent)
  • Insights into in-demand skills (41 percent)

“Globalization, the rise of automation and other disruptions have put significant pressure on employers and employees to take a continuous approach to learning and skilling – and the pandemic has only accelerated the need for employees to develop new skills,” said Randstad RiseSmart President and General Manager Dan Davenport. “To achieve long-term business success, it isn’t enough for organizations to simply provide employees with a list of training and skilling opportunities to consider. Leading employers will instead seek out expert career development and talent mobility partners to help their employees develop strategic skilling roadmaps that incorporate actionable data, analysis and coaching throughout the skilling journey.”

The survey also found that while organizations see the value in reskilling and upskilling talent, 39 percent offered skilling and training opportunities to some, but not all, employees. Across all organizations, team leads and managers were most likely to receive or be required to take skills training (65 percent), followed by individual contributors and high-potential employees (44 percent) and leaders (42 percent).

“Recent events have highlighted the importance of reskilling and upskilling talent not only as a way for organizations to meet evolving business demands, but also as a tool to support successful career transitions for employees impacted by workforce restructuring,” said Randstad RiseSmart Vice President of Global Practice Strategy and Solutions, Lindsay Witcher. “By adopting a more democratized approach to training and development, including providing reskilling and upskilling opportunities to all team members throughout their employment journey, employers will uncover untapped skills across their workforce. This will lead to increased internal mobility and help support the long-term employability of individuals as the world of work continues to evolve and they move on to new opportunities.”

The survey also found that providing skilling to employees in career transition is beneficial. Despite a record number of individuals filing for unemployment throughout the pandemic, only 27 percent of organizations surveyed offer skilling as part of outplacement benefits. However, of the businesses that provided skilling to displaced workers in 2020 (“outskilling”), 85 percent said they believe it helped impacted employees find new work. Providing skilling at outplacement may also help companies reduce severance costs and unemployment taxes.

About Randstad RiseSmart

Randstad RiseSmart is the fastest-growing career transition and talent mobility provider, and an operating company of Randstad N.V., a €20.7 billion global provider of flexible work and human resources services that helps nearly two million candidates find meaningful work every year. Our outplacement, career development, redeployment and contemporary tech and touch solutions strengthen employer brands, improve retention and re-engage talent. Employers hire us because we deliver superior outcomes through expert coaching, professional branding, contemporary resources and on-demand analytics. Today, we are a trusted human partner of successful companies across more than 40 industries and deliver services in over 100 countries and 40 languages. Our passion and dedication to innovation, responsiveness, and results have earned us extensive recognition and awards from organizations such as Bersin by Deloitte, Gartner Inc., the Brandon Hall Group, and Fortune magazine. 

Media contact:

Nick Palladino
(212) 390-0520