Seventy-two percent of executives whose companies are facing skills shortages identified training as one of the top ways for employees to develop new skills, yet 35 percent admit they have not invested enough in training, according to a 2013 Accenture survey. Recognizing this trend, the federal government enacted the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), aimed at bringing the American workforce fully into the 21st century. President Obama signed this call to action to demonstrate that we aren’t addressing the lack of training that is costing the economy $1.3 trillion.
While federally mandated training programs are a step in the right direction, the private sector must start dedicating resources to training all employees, creating job opportunities, and ensuring a competitive workforce for proper training to become ubiquitous.
Deploy a basic training program
Companies of all sizes make an effort to implement the latest digital tools into their daily operations, but only one in 10 of the 200 million Americans in the digital workforce rate themselves as “very proficient” with the tools they use, according to a Harris Interactive poll. This reveals a clear gap exists between the capabilities of the tools and their users. While a wave of innovation from 2000-2007 boosted productivity growth rates to over 2.5 percent, more recent technologies, such as cloud-based data storage and applications and mobile device improvements, are more difficult to fully utilize without the proper training.
Providing basic training on these technologies offers a fundamental, scalable solution to this problem. Training comes in many different shapes and sizes so deploy a training program that works best for your company, whether that be through an online system, the HR department, or guidebooks that can be easily updated as tools upgrade.
Maintain effective training techniques
Once you have a training system in place, the next step is finding the right training technique to deploy for your employees. Despite the fact that training levels are low, according to a Harris Interactive poll, workers want to be more proficient with the tools they use at work. In fact, more than half of employed adults (58 percent) would like to receive more training on technology tools they use on the job.
The interest is there, so be sure to ask you employees what training style works best for them. Also take into consideration that in this 24/7 world, quick, efficient, accessible, and mobile are all elements to consider. That way your employees can train when it works best for them, so they can still get their job done.
Setting a training cadence
It can be next to impossible for management to squeeze resources for extensive training into tight budgets and schedules, but with technology advancing at incredible speed, the average skills half-life of an employee has fallen to just 2.5 years, according to a Deloitte study, making regular re-training and skill addition indispensable to maintaining a capable workforce that adapts to changing technologies. Once you train your workforce, be sure that you create a cadence, so they can continue to learn and new hires can easily get up to speed.
The White House has taken steps to ensure that federal employees are receiving proper training, but if we want to guarantee a competitive American workforce, the private sector needs to step up. As one of these companies, begin training all employees and not only will you provide a more effective and efficient workforce, but you will also create a happier employee with new skillsets. To truly be competitive in today’s global digital marketplace, companies must drive their workers to success – something training can easily accomplish.
Fernandez is the co-founder & CEO of Grovo, the training platform that teaches Internet and modern professional skills with 60-second videos.