In 2018, workers quit at the highest rates since 2001, and experts predict that the trend will continue into 2019. According to the most recent Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), over 3.5 million Americans quit their jobs every month, about 2.3 percent of the labor force. Analysts pointed to sluggish wage growth and a tight labor market that's encouraged workers looking for higher salaries to find new opportunities as the driving force behind this trend.
But according to LinkedIn's 2019 Workforce Learning Report, 94 percent of employees say that they would stay at a company longer if it simply invested in helping them learn.
This interest in learning and development is particularly strong among younger workers. LinkedIn's research found that roughly a quarter of Gen Z and Millennials say learning is the number one thing that makes them happy at work, and over a quarter (27 percent) of Gen Z and Millennials say the number one reason they'd leave their job is because they did not have the opportunity to learn and grow.
And there are signs that employers are beginning to catch on.
For years, American employers have complained that there weren't enough workers with the skills they needed, a phenomenon often described as a skills gap. But at the same time, researchers argued that employers simply needed to invest in workforce training comparable to that of other industrialized economies.
"Reports of the skills gap have been greatly exaggerated," reads a 2017 report from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). "That's not to say that U.S. businesses aren't having a tough time. Surveys show that most employers are struggling to find and hire qualified people. But the solution is in their hands: provide the training needed to get the workers they want."
LinkedIn's 2019 Workforce Learning Report finds that employers are finally starting to invest in this kind of workforce development: "In 2019, our survey indicates that talent developers will spend more time finding and closing skills gaps while exploring learner engagement tactics to inspire the modern learner, including the incoming Gen Z workforce."
According to the report, 49 percent of learning and development professionals cited a "limited budget" as a top challenge in 2017 but in 2019, that figure has decreased to just 27 percent. In 2017, 27 percent of those polled said that their talent development budgets were increasing but in 2019, that figure was closer to 43 percent. Today, 82 percent of learning and development professionals say that their executives actively support employee engagement in professional learning.
Another sign that organizations are finally investing more in their workforce is that 87 percent of talent developers tell LinkedIn that their teams will either stay the same size or grow in 2019.
"For the first time, professionals with L&D responsibilities have the budgets, teams, and executive buy-in to expand their focus beyond day-to-day challenges — like closing skills gaps that are vital to competitive advantage," states LinkedIn's report. And investments like these may help employers recruit and retain workers with the skills they need most.
One way organizations are doing this is by investing in ways for employees to learn online, rather than expensive in-person workshops and training sessions. LinkedIn has found that since 2017, 59 percent of talent developers spend more of their budget on online learning and 39 percent say they spend less on instructor-led training.
In January, LinkedIn analyzed hundreds of thousands of job postings in order to determine which skills companies need most in 2019. They found that employers are actively looking for workers with both soft skills and hard technical skills and matched these skills with free LinkedIn Learning courses.
The skill employers needed most in 2019 was creativity, so it makes sense that the course that became most popular among workers in January was called "Creativity Bootcamp." According to LinkedIn, 77,182 people took the course in January alone, and 183,273 have taken it overall.
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