There’s a common denominator in today’s workforce--nearly every worker craves professional learning and development opportunities.

Rethinking professional learning and development

There’s a common denominator in today’s workforce--nearly every worker craves learning and development opportunities

It’s important to take a look at what’s driving our country’s workforce to grow and what grants employees satisfaction in the workplace. Many employers and employees are finding themselves in a new era of working with a multigenerational workforce seeking everything from high-quality healthcare to parental leaves, which means a variety of perspectives and a variety of motives when it comes to earning a paycheck.

There’s a common denominator for our workforce, though, and it’s that nearly every worker craves learning and development opportunities – something not all employers offer to employees. Since the pandemic, 3 in 4 Americans agree acquiring new skills leads to more job opportunities. We can think of learning and development as everything an organization does to encourage professional development to enhance workplace performance, including online learning, training programs, or any opportunity to help its employees continue their higher education while also being able to work full time.

What’s interesting to note is that while this is top of mind for employees and job seekers, employers are lagging behind when considering budgets for learning and development perks. This shows in the 2022 Job Seeker Nation Report, which reported that 54 percent of workers weren’t offered an increased number of opportunities for learning and development from their employers this past year.

Additionally, college tuition reimbursement programs for employers are maxed at $5,250 per year, which has not kept up with the increasing cost of higher education. Yet 94 percent of workers said they’d stay at their current job longer if it chose to invest in their career development.

Just like more equitable access to higher education can support talent pipelines and bridge the gaps in critical workforce shortages, learning and development can provide great value in attracting employees and retaining them.

A strong workforce is rooted in continued education and evolution of skills – ones that boost output and presence in both personal and professional settings. All of this to say, there are some limitations for companies when it comes to providing education benefits for its employees, and that’s where pursuing higher education comes into the picture.

With the multigenerational workforce in mind, we can understand that prospective students aren’t what they used to be: traditional 18- to 24-year-olds. The nontraditional higher education student population is on the rise with students who are older, working part- or full-time, often have dependents, are more in tune with their finances, and so on. In fact, it’s predicted that by 2027, 3.3 million students will be 40 or older, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Education institutions are adjusting offerings to make sure students of all ages, who are working or who have families, can successfully pursue a degree. Both the university and the company must work together for the benefit of the overall economy and also for staff retention.

Upskilling drives growth. With the support of educational leaders, we can help expand and deepen partnerships with business leaders, employers, and education partners to support economic growth. These relationships and partnerships bring flexibility, affordability and a competency-based approach to the sought-after learning and development perk. 

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