Employment and Jobs

Room for Growth: A Survey of UpSkilling Approaches

March 12, 2024  • Haley Glover & Kevin Martin

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A culture of continuous learning is a signature trait of high-performance organizations. Frontline employees are increasingly seeking opportunities for growth and advancement, and employers spend billions on education and training each year. But the average half-life of skills is now less than five years, and many companies express concerns about their ability to prepare their workforce for the future.

UpSkill America partnered with i4cp to bring clarity and direction to this topic. In fall 2023, we surveyed hundreds of employers across the US to understand the state of employer-supported education and the key practices being developed in the field. We asked questions in three big areas of employer upskilling work — internal formal education and training, apprenticeship/work-and-learn, and tuition assistance — to learn how employers are investing in talent development.

In this paper, we start to paint a research-backed picture of employer motivations, design decisions, and upskilling approaches as they stand today, followed by ideas and recommendations for improving upskilling in America.

About i4cp

i4cp is the leading global authority on human capital. We produce more research than any other human capital research firm in the world, and many of the world’s most prominent organizations and HR leaders turn to i4cp to better capitalize on HR best practices and emerging workforce trends. Supported by a powerful community of human capital practitioners, we provide HR research and insights that help organizations better anticipate, adapt, and act in a constantly changing business environment. Learn more at i4cp.com.

About UpSkill America

UpSkill America, an initiative of the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program, supports employers and workforce organizations to expand and improve high-quality educational and career advancement opportunities for America’s front-line workers. We seek to create a movement of employers, civic organizations, workforce intermediaries, and policymakers working collaboratively to implement education, training, and development strategies that result in better jobs and opportunities for front-line workers, more competitive businesses, and stronger communities. Follow us on LinkedIn and learn more at upskillamerica.org.