Benefits of Upskilling Frontline Workers

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Does your workforce have the job skills needed to keep you competitive in your industry?

In a recent West Monroe survey of HR professionals, 56% of respondents said their organization’s skills gap is moderate to severe. This is especially true for organizations undergoing digital transformation and adapting to future trends. As automation grows, it’s becoming increasingly important to ensure workers can handle higher-value work. In fact, a ManpowerGroup survey found that by 2022, 54% of workers will need significant reskilling or upskilling as their current job skills become outdated. 

With a tightening talent market and higher demand for emerging skills sets, companies are finding it more advantageous to reskill their workforce rather than rehire. According to Mike Howell, Chief Strategy Officer at Pearson, “The world of work is changing faster than most workers are evolving. With increasing automation in the workplace, more remote working, higher demand for vocational skills and the huge disruption and acceleration caused by COVID, the need for lifelong reskilling and upskilling has never been more pressing.”

Manufacturers, in particular, have seen diminishing financial returns in offshoring their workforce. As wage gaps decrease between countries and as costs of offshoring (such as duty, freight, packaging, added supply chain complexity) grow, U.S. manufacturing companies are finding it increasingly favorable to re-shore operations back to America. However, with the shortage of skilled labor in the U.S. (particularly in STEM), many employers are deciding to invest in their current workforce now to experience gains later from an increase in employees’ productivity and skill sets. By upskilling, manufacturers can obtain operational resilience that allows them to adapt operations quickly and gain a competitive edge in the market.

Industries such as healthcare, hospitality and retail also stand to benefit from upskilling frontline workers. According to Kevin Oakes, CEO of i4cp, “The opportunity for positive bottom-line impact through frontline worker development is significant as it impacts those who often work most closely with an organization's customers.” Retail is a critical sector of the economy, with 16 million workers, yet this sector also faces some of the highest turnover rates. The result is millions of Americans missing out on opportunities for career advancement and income growth. By building talent from within, retail employers are finding that they can lower costs up to six times compared with recruiting while also gaining positive long-term outcomes, such as improved employee and customer experience.

As work across industry sectors continues to evolve, employers who invest in training and education will become more qualified to handle the future of work, which can yield higher earnings for both the individual and the organization. Providing educational programs to frontline workers can also boost a company’s status as an employer of choice - one that values learning and investment in human capital. While premium benefits packages can be costly to implement and administer, educational benefits—like tuition assistance and tuition reimbursement—have become increasingly popular as the results can outweigh the initial costs of providing upskilling assistance.

At Pearson Accelerated Pathways, we help companies maximize their learning and development funds to train and retrain their global workforce with skills gaps they urgently need to fill. We work with HR leadership to provide academic options for everyone on the organization chart—from frontline employees to executives. Through our advanced network of academic partners, we offer low tuition rates and customized program offerings that meet your talent development needs. Learn how we can future-proof your workforce.

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