How Companies and Governments Can Advance Employee Education (2024)


To close the gap between where education leaves off and the needs of the 21st century begin, some companies and governments are taking a fresh approach to employee education. For fields in which the supply of talent doesn’t meet the demand, reskilling, or helping current employees make career transitions, is an attractive option. Disney, for example, launched CODE: Rosie, an intensive bootcamp that helps female employees learn software engineering skills. Governments are also beginning to take part in employee education. In Singapore, all citizens over the age of 25 receive a $360 USD “Skills Future Credit” that they can invest in education. And in the UK, theApprenticeship Levy requires employers to set aside funds for hiring apprentices.

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The business world is undergoing an unprecedented rate of change. While core metrics like CEO tenure, shareholding periods, and product inventory levels are stable or slowing, our access to an extensive amount of data — from social media, online browsing, and an increasing number of mobile devices — makes it feel as though things are moving faster. The more information we gain access to, the faster we are able to react, transform, and improve. Companies that do so tend to gain a market advantage, and in turn, the pressure to keep up grows.

This is largely the result of digitization. Today, a company’s systems, processes, and products are underpinned by a layer of technology. McKinsey & Co. recently reported: “Bold, tightly integrated digital strategies will be the biggest differentiator between companies that win and companies that don’t, and the biggest payouts will go to those that initiate digital disruptions.” In short, businesses that make fast and bold investments in digitization will see outsize gains.

So what does it take to successfully digitize? It comes down to talent. Any business can invest in advanced technologies, but creating a workforce that’s ready to use them is much harder. It requires workers who can understand data, serve customers across virtual and physical interaction points, and keep up with fast-changing software languages. Unfortunately, traditional education systems often don’t teach these skills. Most university professors lack real industry experience, and curriculum development cycles can be as long as seven years. This timeline is a problem. A global survey of 4,300 managers and executives shows that 90% of workers feel they need to update their skills annually just to contend.

To close the gap between where education leaves off and the needs of the 21st century begin, some companies and governments are starting to take matters into their own hands. In July 2019, Amazon announced it was investing $700 million to upskill 100,000 employees ($7,000 per person). They’re not alone. My employer, General Assembly, works with over 500 global organizations — including Adobe, L’Oréal, and BNP Paribas — and a variety of international governments that are pursuing fresh approaches to education.

Below are three examples of strategies that are working to create a more educated workforce, and the results companies and governments are seeing as a result of their efforts.

1) Upskilling

Upskilling is the practice of teaching employees how to use new tools and practices that will help them do their jobs better or faster. With large organizations forecasted to spend as much as $3.8 trillion on IT in 2019 alone, upskilling employees is critical. According to a recent report from Deloitte, “technology implementations fail rarely because the technology did not work but rather because people are not willing, or find it too difficult, to use them.” Some companies hear this loud and clear, and have already begun investing accordingly.

Microsoft is one of them. Under CEO Satya Nadella, the organization has made one of the most successful corporate turnarounds of our time. Azure, the company’s cloud computing platform, is a major driver. But Microsoft admits that while Azure supports companies in sectors like aerospace and manufacturing, many of their customers’ employees don’t know how to take advantage of its capabilities. This is a big reason why, earlier this year, Microsoft signed a partnership with GA to upskill 15,000 workers by 2022, and to establish standards for the skills that power cloud computing. They are betting that a workforce that understands how to use Azure and its underlying technology will be more inclined to leverage its potential, thereby strengthening the company’s market position, and the all-important “power metrics” on which Nadella and his team are measured.

Upskilling can also help ensure that employees’ expertise are being put to the best use as new tools and technologies come to the forefront. Deanna Mulligan, CEO of the Guardian Life Insurance Company, believes upskilling actuaries is crucial to the success of her 160-year-old firm. Like all insurance companies, Guardian’s business depends on its ability to articulate and act on patterns found in vast quantities of data. Historically, the bulk of this work has been done by actuaries — highly trained statisticians who calculate insurance risks and premiums using a number of variables. Today, however, new technologies like Fitbit monitors, car sensors, and others are generating important data about health risks, driving habits, and a plethora of data that can help companies calculate the risk of insuring a person or a business more precisely. These sources churn out an astonishingly higher volume of information than simple actuarial tables and demographic metrics had in the past.

This is where the skills gap begins. For insurance companies to make better calculations and stay competitive, actuaries need new tools to make sense of all the data at their disposal. Purchasing these tools is one thing, but training employees to use them is another.

Led by CIO Dean Del Vecchio and Head of Strategy Bob Thompson, Guardian Life developed a talent strategy to close this gap. They made a strategic investment in GA to upskill and reskill actuaries, and other workers, through short workshops and intensive bootcamps. The goal of such courses is not to change employees’ skills entirely, but rather, to build upon their core expertise. In the words of one student, “[The course] opened my mind to thinking more about data. I see a task that may be redundant or repetitive or monotonous, and I explore ideas where I could use Python or automation to free up my time to work on other activities.”

2) Reskilling

Reskilling is a form of education focused on helping employees make career transformations. Those who invest in reskilling learn new tools and practices in an effort to gain abilities that will allow them to change their jobs entirely. For fields in which the supply of talent doesn’t meet the demand, reskilling is an attractive option. If deployed well, this strategy can be a significant cost savings, when compared with the price of severance, recruiting, and onboarding new employees.

Capital One began developing a “Tech College” to reskill its employees and candidates around two years ago. “The winners in this industry are the ones who are really going to figure out how to leverage technology and harness it in ways that the best technology companies do,” Chief Information Officer Rob Alexander said. Tech College is a multi-million dollar investment. It offers over 250 courses in topics ranging from artificial intelligence to cloud computing. The courses are free and open to all Capital One employees, and are offered both in person and online.

One of their most effective programs, Capital One Developer Academy, puts recent college graduates without computer science (CS) backgrounds through an intensive six-month experience to develop their software engineering skills. The program, which includes both classroom training and on-the-job learning, grants Capital One access to an entirely new pipeline of talent. Instead of competing over the relatively small number of CS graduates, they are teaching liberal arts majors how to succeed in the roles they need filled. “When you create a viable path for on-the-job training, you can unlock (or leverage) the passion and potential of ‘non-traditional’ candidates,” said Devin Lipawsky, VP Technology.

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The Walt Disney Company has taken a similar approach to reskilling. In a bid to increase diversity in its technology sector, Disney launched CODE: Rosie, an intensive bootcamp that trains female employees in software engineering. The 15-month program is open to women across divisions, and includes a three-month formal training and two six-month internal apprenticeships, after which graduates transition into technical roles at the company. Spearheaded initially by Disney VP of Technology, Nikki Katz, the program has a powerful mission. “We’re going to take a lot of candidates, teach them a lot of software engineering skill sets, and then hopefully let these candidates explore a new career path,” she said.

The initiative started small, but has already seen success. Of 169 employees who completed a grueling application process, 112 completed it. Disney selected just 20 of those employees to fill the first cohort. Now, three years after CODE: Rosie’s initial launch, the program is a core part of Disney’s talent strategy, and is seen as an impactful and cost-effective way to both increase diversity and fill critical talent gaps.

3)Government Investments

While the corporate world has an important role to play in building the workforce of the future, it can’t succeed alone. We need a multifaceted infrastructure for lifelong learning and education, where employees, employers, government, and education providers all have a role to play.

Some governments are already stepping up to take the lead. In Singapore, all citizens over the age of 25 receive a $360 “Skills Future Credit” that they can invest in education. People can use this opportunity to improve their technical skills, like cybersecurity and advanced manufacturing, as well as core skills, such as leadership and accounting. The program has been highly successful. Eight in every 10 participants report that the training has had a positive impact on their work. The program itself is a powerful accelerator of economic progress, with almost 10% of the country’s entire population participating.

But Singapore is just one example. France incentivizes investments in worker training by providing entrepreneurs with a tax credit equal to the number of training hours multiplied by the minimum wage. And in the UK, the Apprenticeship Levy requires employers to set aside funds for hiring apprentices.

These investments go far beyond standard learning and development spending. Collectively, they represent a shift in the world of business. Companies and countries are realizing that education is an effective tool to correct what is essentially a labor market inefficiency. At General Assembly, we’ve always believed that to keep pace with the needs of employers, education cannot be something that only happens before you begin work. Education has to be something that takes place multiple times throughout your career. The examples and stories I’ve highlighted, as well as recent news from the business community, show that the world’s largest employers are in agreement.

How Companies and Governments Can Advance Employee Education (2024)


How do you encourage employees to further their education? ›

Check out 6 ways your organization can encourage continued education for your employees:
  1. Organize A Book Club.
  2. Incentivize Certifications.
  3. Use Career Mapping.
  4. Create A Peer To Peer Mentoring Program.
  5. Create A Corporate Toastmasters Club.
  6. Invest In Custom Ongoing Learning Activities.

How can management implement effective training and development programs for its employees? ›

How to implement an effective employee training program in four key steps
  1. Establish goals for your training program.
  2. Build an employee training plan.
  3. Create employee training content.
  4. Track and improve – Cultivate your content.
Jan 19, 2023

Why do many businesses provide opportunities for their employees to continue their education or receive additional training? ›

Providing training and development to employees allows employers to pinpoint the knowledge and skills they want their employees to have. Training and development programs can educate employees about new skills or provide updates on existing skills to enhance productivity.

What are three ways in which new employees can be trained? ›

What are three main ways in which new employees can be trained?
  • On-the-job training.
  • Job rotation.
  • Job mentoring.

What can the company do for your professional development? ›

  • Take a personal interest in employee career goals. ...
  • Promote training and development of employees. ...
  • Encourage mentoring and job shadowing. ...
  • Rotate employee roles. ...
  • Support work-life balance. ...
  • Paint the big picture. ...
  • Create a succession planning program.
May 16, 2023

How can organizations encourage lower skilled employees to take advantage of elective training opportunities? ›

Organizations can encourage lower-skilled employees to take advantage of elective training opportunities by providing clear information about what the training entails, as well as the potential benefits of participating in it.

How can a company boost employee productivity through training and development? ›

Ongoing employee training helps cultivate talent from within your business. By retraining employees on current skills, you can increase productivity by preventing small, basic mistakes. This can also breathe new life into old tasks. Plus, retraining current employees is less expensive than hiring new ones.

How can your company improve training and development programs? ›

10 tips to improve training and development
  1. Set a goal. ...
  2. Create metrics to measure progress. ...
  3. Engage with your employees. ...
  4. Match training and development with employee and management goals. ...
  5. Create a formal program. ...
  6. Start small and stay small. ...
  7. Provide various training types. ...
  8. Set aside time for regular constructive feedback.
Aug 19, 2022

What are the strategies used by organizations for the development and training of their employees? ›

Set goals. Identify rewards for employees who achieve their goals. Provide tools to help complete the training. Review progress and adjust goals where necessary.

Why should companies pay for employees education? ›

Reimbursing or paying for employees' expenses for work-related education is a great way to add to your employees' skills and knowledge, which they can then apply to help make your business a success. And for employers, the amount paid or reimbursed for an employee's education expenses is a deductible business expense.

Why businesses encourage their employees to pursue ongoing education? ›

According to Smith, many people pursue professional development to bolster their confidence in what they do at work, “which is a noble reason to continue to develop yourself.” This confidence can translate into higher overall job satisfaction, which in turn increases employee performance, productivity and morale.

What is the the importance of education in employee retention? ›

Through workplace education, companies can challenge their employees intellectually, keep employees' skills relevant, and foster a greater sense of company loyalty that pays dividends down the road.

What are the four 4 approaches to employee development? ›

The four approaches to employee development are proper assessment, interpersonal relations, formal education, and job experiences.

Which is the most effective way to train your staff? ›

One of the best strategies for training new employees is to set employee expectations and clearly communicate them to the employee. Setting expectations means you and your employees will be on the same page. It also gives the employee a chance to ask any clarifying questions.

What is the main goal of professional development opportunities if they are provided by an employer? ›

Professional development is meant to improve employees' skills and knowledge so they can progress in their overall career path, not just build a skill set for a particular role.

What is the most important action the organization can take to support you at work? ›

Open and honest communication is the foundation of a successful team. This is true whether it's face-to-face or virtually, as it helps us build the interpersonal skills necessary for effective teamwork. Sharing ideas, points of view, information, and expertise helps to keep everyone informed and in the loop.

What opportunities would be key to your professional development? ›

Examples of activities that contribute to professional growth and development:
  • Continuing Education.
  • Participation in professional organizations.
  • Research.
  • Improve job performance.
  • Increased duties and responsibilities.
  • Approaches to professional development:
  • Skill Based Training.
  • Job Assignments.

How do you develop staff? ›

Employee Development Methods
  1. Training.
  2. Task/job rotations.
  3. Coaching.
  4. Mentoring.
  5. Workshops/Committees/Working-Groups.
  6. Simulations.
  7. Conferences.
  8. On-the-job training.

Why is professional development important for teachers? ›

Teachers Develop Better Organization and Planning Skills

Professional development training can help teachers to become better at planning their time and staying organized. This ultimately makes teachers more efficient and gives them extra time to focus on students rather than the paperwork.

How can I improve my professional skills? ›

Develop your skills
  1. Get training. Attend a workshop, take a course, read an article or book, observe someone who excels at the skill. ...
  2. Practice. Consider ways you can deliberately.
  3. Get feedback. Assess your progress, identifying areas where you have improved and areas for continued growth.

What is the best way for companies to raise productivity profit and employee engagement? ›

Here are a few ways to boost productivity and engagement in your company.
  • Continuous Check-ins Build Mutual Trust Between Manager and Team Members. ...
  • Make Your Employees Believe in What You Believe. ...
  • Care for Your Employees, They Will Protect You. ...
  • Flexibility Makes Your Employees Love Their Job.
Aug 13, 2020

What is the best way in enhancing productivity and engagement in the workplace? ›

10 Powerful Steps To Improve Employee Engagement
  • Improve Efficiency in the Workplace. ...
  • Improve Communication. ...
  • Give Recognition. ...
  • Encourage Interaction. ...
  • Invest in Your Employees, Invest in Your Company. ...
  • Focus on Employee Wellbeing. ...
  • Encourage Feedback. ...
  • Emphasise Your Company Culture.
Jun 15, 2023

What other ways can a company motivate employees to increase productivity? ›

Top 10 ways to motivate your employees:
  • Make your business a pleasant place to be. ...
  • Be a respectful, honest and supportive manager. ...
  • Offer employee rewards. ...
  • Give them room to grow. ...
  • Share positive feedback. ...
  • Be transparent. ...
  • Offer flexible scheduling. ...
  • Offer food in the workplace.
Nov 24, 2022

How can a training program support a company's business strategy? ›

Training is an ongoing process that helps companies achieve their goals. It helps your teams sell more by educating them about your products and services, improving their selling skills, and making them more effective in troubleshooting and customer support.

What makes a training program successful? ›

It stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Once you have clearly identified training needs held by the employer and employee, using the SMART tool will help you develop employee objectives that make sense and increase production for the user.

How does training and development impact organizational effectiveness? ›

It improves the performance of employees on present jobs and prepares them for taking up new assignments in the future. Training also helps in the growth of the employees. The main objective of the study is to measure the effectiveness of the training in the organization and its impact on employee job performance.

What are the 5 strategies of organizational development? ›

Entry, Diagnosis, Feedback, Solution and Evaluation.

What are strategies an organization can use to increase employee engagement? ›

One big way to keep employees engaged and motivated is to show them the opportunities to grow and change jobs within the company. Similar to helping employees develop career paths, promoting from within will motivate employees to take on new challenges within their role and stay engaged with their work.

What is the most widely used training technique in organizations? ›

Classroom-style training is the most popular training method.

How do I convince my employer to pay for my education? ›

Here are 10 important tips to convince your employer to pay for continuing your education.
  1. Address Concerns Right from the Start. ...
  2. Do Your Homework in Advance. ...
  3. Provide a Specific Cost Breakdown. ...
  4. Demonstrate Your Loyalty. ...
  5. Be Considerate. ...
  6. Give Your Employer a Good Reason to Invest in Your Education.

What is the importance of workplace education? ›

Employee training can positively impact your company's culture because it improves job satisfaction, engagement, and retention. By embracing training and development, organizations can dramatically reduce employee turnover and increase their talent ROI.

What is it called when a company pays for your education? ›

Tuition reimbursem*nt or tuition assistance are programs wherein a company pays for some or all of the costs of a worker's higher education, which many employers offer to their employees as part of their benefits package.

How can professional development provide future opportunities for employees? ›

Greater confidence can, in turn, translate into higher overall job satisfaction, employee performance, productivity, and overall morale. Investing in professional development training programs also shows employees that their company is invested in their success and interested in cultivating their advancement.

How companies motivate and engage employees? ›

Recognize and reward your team for their hard work. Provide employees with tools and resources for success. Encourage creativity. Schedule regular one-on-one meetings.

What is the importance of the opportunity for advancement in employee retention? ›

63% of participants said they would be more likely to stay at their organization if they were provided better career advancement opportunities. Data analytics, computer, software, and marketing skills are the top hard skills employees, overall, felt are holding them back from career advancement.

How do you retain staff in education? ›

Proven Strategies for Increasing Teacher Retention Rates
  1. Cultivate Collaboration. Even in a classroom full of students, teachers can still feel very much alone. ...
  2. Empower Teachers to Succeed. ...
  3. Provide Them with Support. ...
  4. Create Better Work Conditions.

What are the benefits that you will provide an employee to retain? ›

What benefits can employers offer to improve employee retention?
  • Flexible work options. By far, flexible work options are the most sought-after work benefit today. ...
  • Paid leave. ...
  • Financial wellness. ...
  • Career development. ...
  • Educational assistance. ...
  • Mental health and wellness.

What are the 4 E's of employee engagement? ›

In this white paper, learn the four essential components of engagement: enablement, energy, empowerment, and encouragement. To create a workplace of truly engaged employees, each of these four elements must be alive and thriving in an organization.

What are the 4 drives of employee motivation? ›

Research points to four drivers of motivation: the drive to acquire, bond, comprehend and defend.

How can employee training be improved? ›

10 tips to improve training and development
  1. Set a goal. ...
  2. Create metrics to measure progress. ...
  3. Engage with your employees. ...
  4. Match training and development with employee and management goals. ...
  5. Create a formal program. ...
  6. Start small and stay small. ...
  7. Provide various training types. ...
  8. Set aside time for regular constructive feedback.
Aug 19, 2022

What are the three approaches to training and development? ›

There are three approaches to training: (1) the traditional approach, (2) the experiential approach, and (3) the performance-based approach (Rama, Etling, & Bowen, 1993).

Which method can be used to train workers in the organization? ›

Some of the methods which are usually used for training of employees are: (1) On The Job Training (2) Off-The-Job-Training (3) Apprenticeship Training (4) Vestibule Training (Training Centre Training) (5) Internship Training and (6) Learner Training.

What are 4 methods used to know that training was successful? ›

Post-training quizzes, one-to-one discussions, employee surveys, participant case studies, and official certification exams are some ways to measure training effectiveness.

How do you motivate employees to achieve excellence? ›

Ways to motivate employees
  1. Set weekly achievable goals. ...
  2. Make them part of important decisions. ...
  3. Let them know when they do things right. ...
  4. Learn about them and what they like. ...
  5. Give meaningful rewards. ...
  6. Encourage them to give you feedback. ...
  7. Respect work-life balance.
Jun 27, 2022

How do you plan to motivate your employees to develop a growth mindset? ›

How to develop a growth mindset in the workplace
  1. Create learning opportunities. ...
  2. Use the right recruitment messaging. ...
  3. Consider both successes and failures as valuable learning opportunities. ...
  4. Avoid Group Thinking. ...
  5. Relate staff performance evaluation to learning and not productivity.
May 17, 2022

How do you motivate someone in education? ›

Below are eight simple ways you can take to encourage students to succeed.
  1. Create a Culture of Encouragement. ...
  2. Provide Verbal Praise When Students Make Progress. ...
  3. Offer Tangible Forms of Encouragement. ...
  4. Praise Even the Smallest Efforts. ...
  5. Formally Recognize Students for Their Accomplishments.

What can leaders do to motivate employees? ›

Highly motivating leaders…
  • Share a common vision and purpose. ...
  • Set clear goals and expectations. ...
  • Encourage employee self-development. ...
  • Provide opportunities for collaboration. ...
  • Foster healthy workplaces. ...
  • Give positive feedback and reward hard work. ...
  • Communicate effectively with employees.
Jan 6, 2023

What is the most powerful way to motivate employees according to what employees say? ›

“The most effective way to motivate a team is primarily by having strong leadership. A strong leader will set clear goals for the team (so everyone knows what they're working towards) and empower the individuals (so they can get on with their job).

What should managers do to motivate employees? ›

Top 10 ways to motivate your employees:
  • Make your business a pleasant place to be. ...
  • Be a respectful, honest and supportive manager. ...
  • Offer employee rewards. ...
  • Give them room to grow. ...
  • Share positive feedback. ...
  • Be transparent. ...
  • Offer flexible scheduling. ...
  • Offer food in the workplace.
Nov 24, 2022

What are 4 ways to develop a growth mindset? ›

10 ways to develop a growth mindset
  • Identify your own mindset. ...
  • Look at your own improvements. ...
  • Review the success of others. ...
  • Seek feedback. ...
  • Harness the power of 'yet' ...
  • Learn something new. ...
  • Make mistakes. ...
  • Be kind to yourself.
Apr 25, 2022

How do you create a growth mindset in a team? ›

With a team growth mindset, it is all about human potential and development. To achieve this, we place emphasis on learning and using strengths, rather than only focussing on fixed talents. This is done through praising work ethic and giving strengths-based feedback.

What is the role of motivation in education? ›

In education, motivation helps children and young people to focus their attention on a key goal or outcome. In doing so, they are unfazed by possible distractions, and are therefore able to maintain their attention during longer periods of time. Students who are motivated display goal-orientated behaviours.

What is motivational strategies? ›

Motivational strategies are techniques that promote the individual's goal-related behaviour. Because human behaviour is rather complex, there are many diverse ways of promoting it – in fact, almost any influence a person is exposed to might potentially affect his/her behaviour.

What are the two types of motivation in learning? ›

There are two broad types of motivations: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation comes from within, whereas extrinsic motivations are those that come from without.

What are the five factors that promote growth and development? ›

Five main factors identified in contributing to growth and developments at early childhood are nutrition, parent's behaviours, parenting, social and cultural practices, and environment.

What encourages professional development among employees? ›

On-the-job training is a traditional and effective method of encouraging professional development at work. Once an employee masters the tasks required in her role, offer opportunities to learn skills of complementary positions.


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