Earlier this month, a new report from our friends at Capella, CLO, and Human Capital Media revealed an important trend in tuition assistance. Specifically, more than half of employers surveyed called talent and leadership development their top motivation for offering tuition assistance. Nearly half are looking to address rising or changing skill demands.
“The top answer,” said the study about what employers hoped to get from their programs, “was the need to develop a pipeline in the organization preparing employees for mid-level roles.”
A Shifting Approach to the Talent Pipeline
This is a heartening development – and it dovetails with our own findings about the path to talent sustainability and how it’s shifting from hiring alone to developing your talent pipeline from within. Why?
In a very short time, unemployment has dropped from 10% at the height of the recession to flirting with nearly historic lows today. The widening gap between the available talent pipeline and employer needs indicates employers should expect millions of empty cubicles by 2020.
The risk is not merely to head counts, but proficiencies as well. As Bright Horizons Chief Culture Officer Dan Henry observed last year, organizational performance depends on employees with cutting-edge skills. But that’s not so easy when technology is changing at the speed of innovation. The rapid evolution of technical skills can make even today’s newly minted graduates look rusty inside a year. “Even the most current hire can’t account for the fact that skills can become irrelevant in the time it takes to tweet, ‘I got a new job,’” wrote Dan. The combination makes it a perfect storm: fewer prospective hires; greater skill demands; and peril for those who don’t heed the warnings.
The Perfect Talent Management Storm
Many organizations are already heeding the warnings. Three quarters of CEOs told a PWC study that a skilled, educated, and adaptable workforce is a priority. These company leaders are already getting ahead by recognizing that talent shortages aren’t just hiring problems but learning problems; and they’re reconsidering their development programs as a response. That makes that 50% cited in the Capella report not just well prepared — but smart. As the hiring shortage worsens, those without a solid, development-fueled talent pipeline are likely to fall behind.
“To avoid skills gaps, what employers need are people who continually challenge themselves to stay up to date and grow to the next challenge,” wrote Dan. “And it’s up to employers to ensure both that they want to – and that they can.”