In 2020, at the height of the pandemic, Cornerstone OnDemand conducted a global study into the “Skills Confidence Gap” existing between employees and employers. The research uncovered some major disparities between how employers and employees viewed skills development within their organisations.
Two years later, in 2022, a new Cornerstone report titled Thriving in the Global Skills Shortage: Your Path Through the Wilderness delved into the same issues, following up in that research with a deeper dive into why. Concerningly, the report found that the problem had actually worsened. On top of that, nearly half of surveyed employers placed skills and talent shortages within their top three most urgent concerns in the next three years.
However, it wasn’t all doom and gloom. The research also identified a strong positive correlation between overall business performance and the quality of new skilling support and development opportunities offered to employees. The report demonstrated clear value for those organisations choosing to prioritise their employees’ skills and development. Let’s take a closer look at the report’s findings, and what they tell us.
The skills confidence gap is widening
In 2020, Cornerstone’s study uncovered a 30%-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. The 2020 research showed that only 60% of employees were confident that future skills were being prioritised, compared to 90% of employers.
According to the 2022 survey data, this gap actually widened overall, with a pronounced difference for average and low performing organisations. Employee confidence decreased by five points, with just 55% of employees saying that their organisation’s skills development was a priority. It seems, then, that while many employers may think they are giving their employees adequate opportunity to learn and develop, this effort is often not felt or seen by the employees themselves. The gap between how organisations view their ability to deliver on skills development and how employees are experiencing it is clearly persisting.
Succeed by prioritising skills
Interestingly, the report showed that The Skills Confidence Gap narrowed or widened depending on organisational performance. Our report broke these employee/employer perceptions further by high performing organisations, average, and laggards. High performing organisations, for instance, had a much smaller gap between employees’ and employers’ confidence levels. High performing organisations not only prioritised skill development at a much higher level than their peers, but their employees also agreed that this was the case – 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 agreed that skills development is an important objective – resulting in a concerning 42% Skills Confidence Gap.
The difference between these two categories was also evident when asked about plans to prioritise skills development. At one end, 72% of high performing organisations intending to address this within the year, with 42% having already started. However, laggards were nearly three times more likely to stall skills development all together compared to high performing organisations delaying any effort for 3 years or more. There is an evident trend of high performing organisations outstripping their peers in organisational outcomes and employee confidence in new skilling initiatives. As such, this increased focus provides a guidepost for other organisations globally.
The skills-forward road ahead
To reduce the employee-employer Skills Confidence Gap and address uncertainty, there are several practical steps organisations can take to build high impact future skills. These are highlighted in the report, and include how to:
- Predict future skills an organisation will need and identify potential skills gaps among its people, both within industry and across the board.
- Integrate intelligent skills technology into other career development tools that an organisation is already using or should be using, board initiatives were a clear best practice of high performing organisations.
- Foster a learning culture that prioritises skill-building and empowers people to grow
- Strategise and deliver more relevant, modern and personalised learning content to people within an organisation
- 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. At Cornerstone, we do just that. 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.
Cornerstone continues to accelerate learning and talent innovation at the intersection of technology, data and people experience. Our goal is to enable our customers to better design and connect their learning and skilling programmes to people needs and powerful business outcomes.