How Upskilling Leads to Happier, More Loyal Employees

Upskilling can fill skills gaps but also enhance job satisfaction and decrease employee turnover, leading to a more productive, stable workforce.

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The IT talent shortage and The Great Resignation continue, and many software companies are relying on upskilling to remain competitive, retain talent, and succeed.   More than 725 IT professionals weighed in on Pluralsight’s State of Upskilling Report 2022 that answers questions about why learning additional skills benefits both organizations and their employees.

Upskilling Addresses Skills Gaps

The study reveals that 80 percent of those surveyed feel very or extremely confident they have the skills to perform well in their current jobs. However, skills gaps continue to present problems. Currently, the most common gaps are cybersecurity, with 43 percent of IT professionals saying they lacked skills in that area. Cloud computing was the next biggest gap, at 39 percent.  Lack of skills in data storage was third at 36 percent.

Providing learning resources is key, with organizations most commonly leveraging:

  • Online skill development platform, 61 percent
  • Virtual instructor-led training, 43 percent
  • Books, manuals, and training guides, 37 percent
  • In-person instructor-led training, 37 percent

More IT professionals (39 percent) prefer self-paced options, and 32 percent prefer a mixture of collaborative and self-paced learning formats. Ideally, resources will be available on demand and in a format that enables learning in short periods.

Providing dedicated time to focus on continuing education is a key to successful upskilling. The number one barrier to upskilling cited by IT professionals (47 percent) is that they are too busy with other tasks. Making sure employees have the professional development opportunities they need and prioritizing work time for them to learn new skills are crucial.

The Negative Consequences of Skills Gaps

Employers who don’t find ways to ensure their teams have the necessary skills will encounter challenges across many levels of their businesses.  Among other issues, lack of upskilling reduces productivity, creates bottlenecks in production and delivery systems, and adds to the workloads of senior members of teams. Respondents to the Pluralsight study ranked the top issues created by skills gaps as:

  • Cybersecurity risks, 34 percent
  • Inefficient productivity, 29 percent
  • Burnout or overburdened team 25 percent
  • Inefficient or delayed projects, 22 percent
  • Inferior product quality, 17 percent

Lack of Learning Opportunities Can Lead to Employee Turnover

Software developers and other IT professionals want to continue to develop professionally while feeling satisfied that their skills are valuable to their companies. In fact, 86 percent agreed they want their technical skills to align with their organization’s.

But where there isn’t alignment, there can be higher-than-average turnover. The report states that, at least once per month, 52 percent of tech employees contemplate leaving their jobs. Reasons include a lack of:

  • Work-life balance, 42 percent
  • Sufficient compensation, 42 percent
  • Opportunities for career growth, 40 percent
  • Healthy work culture, 38 percent
  • Professional skills development opportunities, 33 percent

Notice that not all of the reasons that employees consider leaving have to do with continuing education. Still, it can position them for career opportunities, greater compensation, and greater satisfaction with their jobs, which may all contribute to employee retention.

Set and Achieve Goals

Pluralsight recommends taking stock of skills gaps within your organization and pairing upskilling with internal talent development and external hiring strategies to deal with current challenges.

For more detailed information, check out the Pluralsight “State of Upskilling Report 2022.

Kelly Allred

Kelly Allred is a contributing editor for DevPro Journal.


Kelly Allred is a contributing editor for DevPro Journal.