Goodwill Industries recently began an initiative called Careers in Retail with help from the Walmart Foundation. Walmart gave them a 2 year, 3 million dollar grant that will help the initiative begin and grow over the next couple of years. Careers in Retail is an “upskilling” program meant to equip entry-level retail employees with skills and credentials for further advancement with in-demand, higher responsibility retail positions.
The initiative was created to alleviate one of America’s occupation obstacles. It’s not an issue of employment availability so much as a lack of skilled workers to employ. Employers such as McDonalds, Walmart, Starbucks, Gap, and CVS, companies that work heavily with entry-level positions, are discovering it is far easier and less expensive to hire from within. To do that, their employees need to earn certain credentials or take postsecondary schooling. Fortunately, the investment into employees not only helps them, but the employer as well.
As the need for skilled workers increases, employers have found that helping and encouraging their employees to earn credentials benefits everyone.
Upskilling and Employer Benefits
“Upskilling” is quickly being adopted across the United States by companies of every type in response to the growing lack of needed skillsets. Upskilling occurs when an employer assists, wholly or partially, an employee in earning post-secondary credentials. These can be skill-based certificates, industry awarded certifications, degrees, or any credentials relevant to the job. While the previous pattern has been to train and assist employees from mid-management onward, upskilling is designed for entry-level positions that can lead to higher, more lucrative roles.
As an employer, it may seem like an investment totally and exclusively beneficial to the employee. Extra money is leaving the company pocket in order to further educate and train an employee working at a minimum wage position, liable to leave at a moment’s notice. However, upskilling actually benefits the employer equally.
Employers open themselves up to more promotions within the company, saving time and money. They build staff retention and loyalty by showing trust and “putting money where their mouth is”. Imagine how happy an employee would be knowing that work and education are intertwined instead of working eight hours only to go home and ‘hit the books’. Happy employees are productive employees, not to mention everything they learn is immediately used for the benefit of the employer. Helping employees achieve success and certifications increases productivity as well as delivers a strong return on investment.
Need for College Degrees and Skills Shortage
John Bersin, author of Building a Smarter Workforce in Today’s Global Economy, claims that 70% of companies lack skills and abilities within that are required to compete. If more than half of the economy is supported by companies lacking the proper skills and tools, then the economy is supported by shaky legs. Fortunately, progress is being made by groups such as The Lumina Foundation. They created an objective in 2009 titled “Goal 2025”. The goal is to help at least 60% of the American populace earn a post-secondary degree, certificate, or other quality credential.
So far, the attainment rate is increasing. The degree-attainment rate, based off Americans between the ages of 25-64 who hold a post-secondary degree, was 37.9% in 2008. In 2014, the rate had increased to 40.4%, roughly representing an additional 4.2 million Americans with a degree or certificate. While there is still a ways to go, the progress is strong and continuing, strengthening the bottom line and the economy.
While the employer benefits may have been more difficult to see at first, employee benefits are relatively straightforward. Employees taking part in upskilling have the opportunity to grow and increase their personal worth. More education leads to more refined skills and abilities that are associated with higher pay and stronger benefits. Earning post-secondary credentials improves their confidence, and involves them in the company. In a sense, it offers them more responsibility which, in turn, makes them feel more appreciated.
A company’s success starts from the ground floor, the entry-level positions. Employees that improve themselves and their career future benefit the employer and themselves. It’s a win-win.
Hire and Promote from Within
Hiring and promoting from within is, first and foremost, less costly to the company. It may take between 20%-50% of an employee’s annual salary to hire a new recruit. Speaking of expensive investments, it is riskier than promoting a current employee. A current employee has already built up relationships and loyalty, intangible factors that are critical to productivity.
Keeping the same staff is cost-effective and productive. People with strong relationships and trust in the workplace are more efficient and tend to stay loyal to that company. Furthermore, promotions make for smoother transitions, as the employee is already up to speed and immediately ready for new responsibilities.
Employees earning certifications and other post-secondary credentials really is a win-win for everyone involved. This includes whole cities and regions as well. Higher education helps employees earn higher wages, which usually leads to more money spent and a stronger economy for it. The entry-level is what the label states. It is the entrance to higher positions and more education.
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