December 5, 2020

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education gives you strength

US Chamber Foundation-led initiative urges changes to employer training investments

3 min read
Dive Brief: A new initiative launched by a group of economists, academics and business leaders...

Dive Brief:

  • A new initiative launched by a group of economists, academics and business leaders led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation seeks to create new methods of financing for training that can prepare workers to meet current and future skills gaps, according to a Sept. 21 announcement.
  • In a white paper explaining the basis of the initiative, called Talent Finance, the group argued in favor of innovations in employer and private-sector investment in workforce development, such as tuition assistance programs that provide career guidance and larger employer matches or contributions. The authors also said employers should consider modernizing how they approach human capital accounting and reporting.
  • The Talent Finance initiative will promote greater collaboration between employers as well as between public and private entities, the white paper said. The group further acknowledged that “[t]he new innovation-based economy will disrupt and dislocate workers at the lower end of the skills continuum,” meaning the advancement of diversity, equity and inclusion “must be a major imperative” in developing a new financing approach.

Dive Insight:

For years, learning and development leaders have discussed the need to prepare workers for the future of their respective jobs and industries. Resources and funding have presented hurdles to that mission, however, particularly during a pandemic in which organizations may view training as a potential area for spending cuts.

But some signs indicate that L&D may actually hold more importance in the current environment. A global survey conducted in May by LinkedIn Learning found 64% of L&D professionals said training employees to fill skill gaps was even more of a priority during the COVID-19 pandemic, and 66% said their function has become a more strategic part of their organizations. Additionally, the shift to telework and remote work at many organizations has led some experts to predict that organizations will increase investments in and adoption of learning technology.

Partnerships, particularly with third-party vendors and educational institutions, have been a prominent method of providing needed training while savings on costs. Though the Talent Finance white paper acknowledged the role such partnerships play, authors also noted that “these efforts can go only so far in closing the gaps without addressing the changing incentives and risks associated with talent development in the new economy, which will become even more pronounced in the years ahead.”

“Public and private sector financing innovations combined with access to better data and more robust employer leadership, set the stage for restructuring how we finance and manage the risks in talent development for all relevant stakeholders,” Jason Tyszko, vice president of the U.S. Chamber Foundation’s Center for Education and Workforce, said in the announcement. “Therefore, we need a talent finance approach fit for our time, not one built for past economies and labor markets.”

Some sources have previously told HR Dive that employers will select the most financially sound talent development options, regardless of the specific route taken. Employers have also looked outside of traditional partnership frameworks and instead enlisted different types of partners, such as professional organizations, in their reskilling efforts.

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