Widening skills confidence gap between employees and employers as skills and talent shortages top list of concerns for organisations

Cornerstone OnDemand, Inc., a provider of adaptive HR solutions, recently released findings from its 2022 global research study focused on organisational trends in the evolving skills development landscape. The report found that nearly half of employers surveyed placed skills and talent shortages within their top three most urgent concerns in the next three years and identified a strong positive correlation between overall business performance and the quality of new skilling support and development opportunities offered to employees.

The report, titled Thriving in the Global Skills Shortage: Your Path Through the Wilderness, is the second in-depth global skills analysis conducted by the Cornerstone People Research Lab.

The two-part global research survey measured the views of 1,800 employees and more than 800 business leaders across North America, EMEA and Asia Pacific. Similar to the questions asked in the 2020 study, the latest survey compared how each group perceived their organisations’ continued investment in skills initiatives, their ability to influence talent and business outcomes, and how well they responded to the pandemic.

A significant finding from the 2020 study uncovered a 30-percentage-point Skills Confidence Gap between employers who believed that they were delivering skills to employees and employees’ confidence in their employer’s ability to develop their skills. According to the 2022 survey data, this gap actually widened for average and low-performing organisations. While employer confidence in their ability to understand and deliver on their needs rose in the recent report, employee confidence actually decreased by five points with just 55% of employees saying that their organisation’s skills development was a priority.

“The latest research by the Cornerstone People Research Lab demonstrates how organisations and their people continue to see skills development as an increasingly important part of navigating their shared future successfully,” said Himanshu Palsule, CEO of Cornerstone. Unfortunately, there continues to be a growing gap between how organisations view their ability to deliver on skills development and how employees are experiencing it.”

Key Research Findings

In many cases, the pandemic exacerbated or accelerated issues that already limited organisational ability to adapt and change. Long-term talent shortages and new challenges, like the rapid pace of digital transformation, are asserting themselves and threatening many organisations’ ability to execute, grow and innovate. Key findings include:

  • Employers and employees aren’t fully aligned on current skills focus. There continues to be a significant Skills Confidence Gap between employers and employees when it comes to confidence in their organisation’s current ability to help them develop new skills. This gap not only persisted from 2020 but, on average, grew wider.
  • Employees are not confident their companies are prioritising skills in the future. The research revealed that only 55% of employees are confident in their organisation’s future prioritsation of new skilling opportunities for them.
  • The Skills Confidence Gap narrowed or widened depending on organisational strength. High-performing organisations (HPOs) had a much smaller gap between employees and employers. HPOs not only prioritised skill development at a much higher level than their peers, but their employees also agreed with them — with only an 11% gap between employer and employee perception. Meanwhile, Laggards (low-performing organisations) not only rated their prioritisation of skill development much lower, but less than 20% of employees in those organisations also agreed that skills development is an important objective — a 42% gap.

High Performing Organisations Provide a Guidepost

The report showed that leading organisations are blazing the trail. Seventy-two percent of HPOs globally reported that they had already begun to prioritise their skills development investments within the next year. Given the trendline of HPOs outperforming their peers in organisational outcomes and employee confidence in new skilling initiatives, this increased focus provides a guidepost for other organisations globally.

The Path Forward

To reduce the employee-employer Skills Confidence Gap and address uncertainty, the 2022 report, Thriving in the Global Skills Shortage: Your Path Through the Wilderness, outlines practical steps organisations can take to build high impact future skills, including how to:

  • Predict future skills your organisation will need and identify potential skills gaps among your people
  • Integrate intelligent skills technology into other career development tools that your organisation is already using or should be using
  • Foster a learning culture that prioritises skill-building and empowers people to grow
  • Strategise and deliver more relevant, modern and personalised learning content to your people
  • Adopt an internal-first hiring mindset to encourage skills development and career growth

“To prepare their workforce for the future, organisations increasingly need to take a skills-forward approach to learning and talent — identifying what skill gaps exist, which skills will be needed in the future and a relevant, engaging path that enables their people to more effectively build those skills,” said Ajay Awatramani, Chief Product Officer at Cornerstone.

“That’s exactly what we do at Cornerstone. We build our solutions with skills technology at the centre to help our customers create fully connected people experiences where skills are a common language of development and career success.”

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