With businesses under increasing pressure to tackle widespread skills shortages, 2023 will be a crucial year for those looking to improve performance. Rob Bright, CEO of Cloud Assess, explains why HR heads must not overlook the importance of workplace training.

Why can we not afford to overlook the importance of training?

1. The skills shortage is not going away

We are in throes of a significant skills crisis, and it shows no signs of slowing in 2023. According to a new report by Hays, a staggering 93 percent of employers have struggled to find the staff they needed this year, leaping up from 86 percent in 2021 and 77 percent in 2020. These figures are deeply concerning, and as we go into 2023, they make a clear case for employers to consider new approaches in the way they combat this growing issue.

Training offers a key part of the solution. Not only can a strong and demonstrable commitment to employee development help to upskill existing employees, it can also be an effective way to attract much needed new talent and offer them the tools to perform new roles.

In October, official figures showed that there were 1.7 million people in Britain who were not yet active in the labour market but wanted to work. With the right development initiatives, they could come into the workplace and help to tackle the challenges that so many employers are struggling with.

2. Employee retention is becoming increasingly challenging

With the skills shortage set to worsen in 2023, minimising the turnover of current staff will be another top priority for HR. According to our own research, training can play an important role in boosting commitment and productivity, with over two-thirds of deskless workers, specifically – that is to say, those in practical, non-office-based roles – telling us that development opportunities have a strong influence on their loyalty to a business. We are hearing of similar patterns amongst their desk-based counterparts.

The number of young people entering the workplace is further accelerating the demand for effective training and development. Our research shows that Gen Z and Millennials place a higher value on ‘opportunities to progress’ and ‘training and development opportunities’ than any other age demographic, and have clear expectations as to how they should be delivered.

It is important to listen to this new demographic. When you consider that Gen Zs now account for 20 percent of the UK workforce, and that this figure is growing all the time, it becomes essential that firms meet the expectations of younger workers. If they don’t, they may risk losing out on vital talent.

3. The world of work is changing rapidly

The world of work is ever-changing. Technology and practices are frequently evolving, and so, therefore, must digital training and development provisions. Research suggests that 70 percent of digital leaders around the globe feel a lack of skilled workers is preventing them from keeping up with technology trends. As the systems being used in our workplaces become ever more complex, employees should be continuously upskilled and retrained, in part to keep them safe and engaged, but also to prevent the business from falling behind.

How is effective training delivered?

Clearly, training and development are vital for businesses to thrive. But how can HR deliver it – not just effectively but in a way that meets the unique learning requirements of every worker?

We have seen a sharp rise in the number of businesses opting for ‘e-learning’ techniques, in an attempt to save time and resources. But, while this sort of training offers improved efficiencies, consistent in-person training has been proven to be far more effective for long-term learning. Many employees echo this, with our own research showing that three-quarters (74%) of employees prefer a combination of face-to-face & online training to e-learning.

With development opportunities playing an increasingly important role in workers’ loyalty to a business, employers simply can’t afford to ignore these preferences by mandating training courses that simply serve as tick-box exercises. Instead, they must consider the unique requirements of their workforce – and, indeed, their industry – and opt for a training strategy that will best suit their teams.

Where possible, HR could even consider specialised training and assessment software, which is intended to support face-to-face learning. This kind of approach would serve to eliminate time-consuming, paper-based admin work, while boosting efficiency and freeing up resources to deliver all-important in-person training.

What does the future look like?

Looking to the future, HR professionals in 2023 must optimise their existing training and development programmes – all the while, considering employees’ long-term development – if they plan to minimise the risk of losing out on vital talent during the growing skills shortage. For companies that invest in comprehensive training programmes, they will reap the rewards in the form of an engaged, effective, and highly motivated workforce.