Building Learning Pathways for At-Risk Workers: 3 Solutions

Article by edX For Business

E-learning can be a powerful tool and benefit for employees across your workforce. The wave of economic disruption from COVID-19 across every industry has expedited and underscored the need for solutions designed specifically for your at-risk workers—employees whose jobs may be endangered as a result of technological changes, declining demand for certain skill sets, and challenges posed by the pandemic.

Read more about how companies use e-Learning as part of their offerings and support for at-risk employees.

1. Train to Retain

The value of any skill set grows and declines based on advances in technology, availability, and demand for that skill, among other factors. As many companies are experiencing during COVID-19, some job functions can suddenly gain importance or become almost obsolete depending on situational factors. Companies can turn these pivots into opportunities by leveraging e-Learning to proactively reskill at-risk employees. Developing employees into newly-valued roles can be a cost-effective solution to maintain continuity among your workforce. According to Forbes, the approximate cost of turnover ranges from 50% of salary for an entry-level position, to 125% of salary for mid-level, to 200% of salary for senior executives. Not only does the company minimize the pain of offboarding or furloughing employees, but the return on investment in developing new skill sets among employees and factoring in their future contributions can far outweigh the cost of hiring new talent.

Search for areas where you can invest in growing skills valuable for your company’s growth and resilience, whether by identifying skills adjacencies or emerging, high growth areas like machine learning or data analysis and visualization.

Did you know? According to research performed by Burning Glass Technologies, workers from 958 occupations would have, on average, 10 “transition options,” or occupations that they could move to relatively easily by building adjacent skills. After identifying transition options and open job opportunities within your organization, your company can train for both adjacent and other emerging skills, too.

2. Keep Your People Employable with Foundational, Transferable Skill Sets

No industry, job function, or skill set is completely “future proof” and immune to market downturns. However, you can guide your business and employees to become “future ready." Demand for technical skills, such as data science, is largely considered to be on the rise and transferable across job titles and industries. Gig workers and those in entry-level, individual contributor, and specialist roles can benefit from further and deeper training in skills like IT and computer science that increase their value to the organization and overall employability.

When developing programs to support this worker population, consider the types of learning that fit with their schedules, educational backgrounds, and opportunities for advancement. For example, 60% of adults in the U.S. do not hold bachelor’s degrees, yet this same group makes up a sizable portion of the workforce and possesses significant, valuable work experience. Online programs are an attractive option for these workers because they are more affordable than full, in-person degree programs and grant the flexibility to apply their newfound knowledge to their current or future roles quickly. Going one step further, stackable online degree programs help these employees become job-ready today and credentialed along the way should they wish to pursue a full degree.

The edX For Business team is also seeing companies increase investment in soft skills training across their organizations. Soft skills are especially important for those who oversee teams, move from specialist roles into management, and among company leadership. But since soft skills development supports communications, problem-solving, teamwork, decision making, and more, facilitating this learning across every level of your organization benefits not only the employees but the company as well. In fact, research shows that soft skills are critical for building high-performing teams and are a leading indicator of team performance and organizational success.

3. Provide Employee Benefits and Support

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused some businesses to make the difficult decision to layoff or furlough their workforce. Industries such as travel and tourism, restaurants, and retail have especially been disrupted and may be slow to recover. And with the age of automation also putting pressure on the workforce, the “new normal” is hard to predict.

For companies unsure what the future holds for them and their employees, online programs can be a quick and accessible investment to make in their people. Modular, innovative learning programs outside of the timeline and cost constraints of a traditional degree offer pathways to in-demand skills and careers. Traditional degrees aren’t needed to pivot, especially for those who already have work experience. There’s a rising number of employers who recognize the value of online credentials--in fact, giants like Amazon and Google recognize targeted credentials as a competitive edge for a job applicant. Companies caught between reskilling and having to furlough their employees can support their people with online learning that boost their employability and also provide pathways to credit should they pursue a full degree program.

What’s Next?

Now more than ever, companies are thinking about both short-term skills development that supports the organization as well as long-term employability for their workers. Whatever priority challenges you’re looking to solve, edX For Business can work with your team to tailor the right solution.

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