Lack of time the main roadblock in employee upskilling

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto

The pandemic has placed a heightened emphasis on the need for developing the skills and competencies of the workforce, in order for companies to emerge stronger and more resilient.

Yet while many companies recognise the need for enhanced workforce learning programmes, NTUC LearningHub (NTUC LHUB)’s recent Workforce Learning in Workplace Transformation (WLWT) report unveiled that more must be done to encourage employees to upskill, in order to accelerate workplace transformation in the endemic world.

In particular, the report uncovered that time constraints form a significant barrier to employee participation in training programmes.

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Employees desire more support from their companies

According to the report, 88% of employees revealed that their companies and line managers are supportive of their participation in training programmes. Yet the inability to find colleagues to cover the workload while employees are away for training is a real challenge faced by many.

In fact, 32% voiced that more support could be provided to encourage employee participation in training programmes, especially in the form of working arrangements to cover work while one is away on course.

This includes paid leave hours or days (61%), more support from supervisors or line managers to temporarily cover work (52%), or offering short refresher courses (43%).

Employers (58%) also voiced their sentiments towards supporting employees on their learning and development (L&D) journey, addressing the concern that attending courses might be disruptive to business operations.

However, it is imperative for employers to prioritise the upskilling of their employees and recognise that L&D is an indelible component towards accelerating business and workplace transformation, especially in the current situation.

Employers surveyed cited that in order to ensure their workforce is  equipped with the necessary skills, the shift needs to be conducted from the top, through more flexible arrangements for employees to work and learn (43%), cultivating a self-driven learning culture (39%), and introducing more training methods (39%).

Commenting on the findings, NTUC Deputy Secretary-General Chee Hong Tat said, “Employers and workers want greater flexibility in when, where and how they receive training.  Our experience during the pandemic shows that this can be best achieved through a trusted online training platform which delivers quality courses that are relevant in meeting industry needs.”

Lack of time is the top challenge for employees participation

Time was found to be the top challenge and roadblock to employee participation in L&D programmes. Many employees voiced concerns of having to participate in training outside their working hours and hence were less willing to participate, contributing to the low take up of company-offered training programmes.

Employees mentioned that they are too busy with work (49%), have family or personal commitments (34%) and do not have a necessary stand in to cover their work while they were away on course (32%).

This correlates with the perception of employers who believe that the lack of time during work hours is the biggest obstacle faced towards skills training, being disruptive to daily operations (58%), busyness at work (58%) and employees’ lack of support or interest in the courses offered (46%).

According to Sean Lim, Director of Human Capital at NTUC LHUB, “A commonly used framework by L&D professionals is the 70-20-10 rule where 70% of learning takes place on the job, 20% through collaborative work, and the remaining 10% through formal learning methods such as sending employees for courses and training.

This framework ensures that organisations take a practical and comprehensive approach when it comes to employee development, while also taking pressure off employees as they can learn in a variety of means most natural for them.”