86% of U.S. Hiring Decision-Makers Say Upskilling is Essential for Career Advancement

Eighty-eight percent of hiring decision-makers say employees, in general, must refresh their hard skills to stay competitive in the workforce, while 86% add upskilling/reskilling is absolutely essential for career advancement.

This is according to a new survey from The Harris Poll commissioned by Express Employment Professionals.

Specifically, in today’s labor market, most hiring decision-makers (86%) believe it is critical for companies to reskill existing employees and more than 4 in 5 (83%) think it’s more cost-effective to reskill current workers than recruit or hire new employees.

Despite 80% of hiring decision-makers agreeing their company needs employees who are ready to do new kinds of work, only 55% say their company currently offers courses or programs to help employees expand/upgrade their skills.


“With changes in technology and social interaction, it’s important for anyone who does not want to be sidelined in their career to continue to seek out developmental opportunities,” said Shannon Wenninger, Express franchise owner in Fishers, Indiana. “An employee runs the risk of being left behind, or worse, replaced with someone whose skills are more up-to-date.”

Lori Gajdzik, branch manager for the Crystal Lake, Illinois, Express office, agrees that upskilling develops enhanced skills that are critical to the workplace. But it also shows the employee takes their job seriously, is committed to growth and development and wants to continue to learn and grow.

“As a manager, I love to mentor employees who are proactive about growth and learning,” she said.

For those who are looking for the next big promotion, Wenninger believes employees absolutely increase their value to a company by investing in reskilling or upskilling.

“New workers entering the workforce may have the updated skills and come at a cheaper price than a worker who may have company knowledge, but lacks skills necessary to stay competitive,” she said.

In Grand Rapids, Michigan, Kaylee Cooper, apprenticeship coordinator and skilled trades recruiter for the local Express franchise, says their training division guides employees through upskilling programs. They also build and manage Department of Labor-certified apprenticeships for clients and training classes through their virtual training partner.

Gajdzik’s Express office takes advantage of ExpressLearn, an online learning program featuring a variety of flexible courses in high-demand fields. ExpressLearn is available to active Express employees at participating offices. To view a list of eligible locations, visit ExpressPros.com/ExpressLearn.

While these Express experts have seen the value in up/reskilling programs, they also understand why only 55% of hiring decision-makers reported their company offered these courses. Cooper says many clients don’t know where to start and it is daunting to look at the big picture instead of taking it one piece at a time.

“If the company does not require ongoing training but allows the worker to determine whether he or she needs training, then it won’t happen readily,” Wenninger added. “Companies need to commit to training and make it part of their employer brand to draw the best and brightest to their company. It’s an investment worth making.”

And that investment is necessary across all industries right now. Cooper says offices are impacted daily by software upgrades, manufacturing facilities are “muddling through constant changes in processes and equipment,” warehouses have to be prepared to turn on a dime and management professionals need to continue up/reskilling to be a credible source of information on a variety of topics.

“With the continual rapid development of almost every aspect of the workforce, employees can’t expect their knowledge from several years ago to still be fully applicable,” Express CEO Bill Stoller said. “Those who continue to be lifelong learners are the ones who will prove to be true assets to companies.”

Survey Methodology

The survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Express Employment Professionals between April 21 and May 6, 2020, among 1,005 U.S. hiring decision-makers (defined as adults ages 18+ in the U.S. who are employed full-time or self-employed or have been laid off, furloughed, or given a zero hour schedule in the past 60 days but worked full-time or were self-employed full-time prior, work at companies with more than 1 employee, and have full/significant involvement in hiring decisions at their company). Data were weighted where necessary by company size to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.

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