Recently, our recruitment experts analyzed the Canadian labour market beyond the pandemic and explored the primary causes behind the country’s prolonged labour shortage. In this article, we continue to explore not only how the world of work has changed but how employers can adapt to it by leveraging upskilling programs.
As the world’s leading HR talent solutions provider, Adecco has made a global commitment as part of the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda to up/reskill 5 million people by 2030. While our broader goal is to contribute to a more equitable workplace for all, we’ve seen firsthand that robust upskilling programs offer clear short- and long-term advantages for our clients in candidate attraction, hiring and retention.
Adecco Canada’s Vanessa Duarte, Head of Training, alongside Bora Mucka, Program Engagement Specialist, explain the need for upskilling and reskilling in this digital age and discuss the ongoing developments and success stories of Adecco’s national upskilling initiatives.
Canada’s skills gap in the workforce
The skills gap is a harsh reality in today’s workforce. Jobs today, unlike ever before, require a baseline level of digital literacy and acumen. New technology and equipment are continually transforming the day-to-day operation of companies in all fields.
Based on the results of a 2021 survey, “Resetting Normal,” including 14,800 respondents across 25 countries, the Adecco Group determined that 66% of workers believe they need new skills to stay employable in the years ahead. Yet, the same research shows that less than half of non-managers believe their company has a strategy to upskill workers in the digital skills they’ll need.
Given the severe labour shortage throughout the country, it’s already challenging for employers to recruit qualified workers. Add in widespread adoption of digital tools, and finding skilled talent seems like finding a needle in a haystack. To prepare for the future of work, employers must shift their focus from external hires to internal promotions. In other words, instead of finding the needle in the haystack, turn the hay into needles.
“There’s a clear misalignment between the skills required by employers and the skills in the workforce. Digital disruption in the market is happening faster than training and education programs can adapt. We’re realizing more and more that upskilling needs to be an ongoing, on-the-job practice. It’s not just digital skills that are lacking, either. People require digital, technical and soft skills to grow professionally—the combination of these three skills is the backbone of the future of work.”
— Vanessa Duarte, Head of Training
The benefit of employer-funded upskilling
Only by creating internal upskilling opportunities can employers realize the full potential of their existing workforce.
“The job market as it is, employers are pouring significant investment into improving external hiring strategies rather than developing internal upskilling strategies. It’s important to realize that the talent you already have is just as much an investment opportunity as any new hire. If anything, it’s a safer investment because you already have a proven element of trust and loyalty with a longstanding employee.”
— Bora Mucka, Program Engagement Specialist
Take as an example The Adecco Forklift Upskilling Program, a partnership with Raymond Johnston Equipment that funds the upskilling of exceptional Adecco associates into certified forklift operators. The Forklift Upskilling Program identifies talent at the general labour level and takes them on a learning path from:
- General labourer
- Walkie forklift driver
- Counterbalance forklift driver
- Reach forklift driver
- Order picker
The program transforms the general labour workforce into a pipeline for skilled positions. Once an associate has completed the training and passed the certification exam, they’re promoted to a higher-paying, skilled position. That promotion opens up an entry-level position in turn, which is much easier to fill for the employer. By training and promoting from within, the employer builds a qualified workforce, increases employee satisfaction and reduces hiring challenges simultaneously.
A Future Skills Council report, entitled “Canada—A Learning Nation,” from Employment and Social Development Canada puts the necessity of upskilling as a strategy this way:
“… long-term business viability, growth and sustainability are put at risk without continual workforce assessment to support ongoing skills development. Leading-edge companies and organizations already recognize the competitive advantages gained through the value proposition of continually investing in upskilling and reskilling their workforce.”
The cost of upskilling employees
Although the need for new skills in the workforce is a known fact to most, many businesses do not have a clear strategy in place for how to practically bridge the gap from within. For many employers, the question is not so much one of need as it is one of cost. After all, it can be difficult to measure the human elements of an upskilling investment, like employee job satisfaction and candidate attraction.
Even so, the potential to reduce costs is equally evident from a more conventional financial reporting perspective.
A report entitled “Future-Proofing the Workforce” by the Adecco Group and the Boston Consulting Group, which assessed the perspective of workers, companies and public institutions on the acquisition of new skills, found that companies could save up to $136,000 per person if they opted to reskill and redeploy employees instead of laying off an employee and rehiring someone new.
The report went on to identify the areas of cost-saving opportunity, namely:
- Training and relocation
Similarly, a research study by Josh Bersin commissioned by General Assembly and Whiteboard Advisors, found that external hiring can cost up to six times more than internal talent development.
Needless to say, the financial incentive for employers to upskill is significant.
A growing need for upskilling
The way we work has changed. New technologies are demanding new skills from the Canadian labour market and it’s becoming more challenging and costly to recruit new talent. To stay abreast of the market shift, employers must embrace internal upskilling strategies. Faced with a long-term country-wide labour shortage, Canadian employers must prioritize human capital investments like upskilling and reskilling to increase worker satisfaction, reduce hiring costs and develop a skilled workforce.
According to Vanessa Duarte, Adecco’s commitment to upskilling and reskilling is first and foremost a duty:
“Adecco has a responsibility to support its associates’ career success through upskilling. We have a clear call-to-action in the UN’s 2030 agenda. As an organization, we must rise to the challenge and enable our associates through reputable upskilling opportunities, all while balancing our clients’ needs and expectations. There’s so much untapped potential in the upskilling and reskilling space. It’s an exciting time.”
Adecco is Canada’s largest recruitment solutions and HR consulting services company. Our network of 50+ branches serves thousands of organizations across the country each day as we endeavour to “transform the world of work through people who love what they do.”