What We're Reading: L&D, Training, and HR

Top Highlights

  • UpSkill America at the Aspen Institute released the "UpSkilling Playbook for Employers" this week. The guide highlights upskilling strategies, including offering pathways to college degrees, apprenticeships, pre-employment training, certifications, high school completion/equivalency programs, and new employee training.
  • recent poll found that nearly three-quarters (74%) of senior executives want to see the ROI of training programs, but just 4% report that actually they do. Leaders from the ROI Institute, which conducted the poll, offer tips for CHROs to connect L&D programs to business objectives to better demonstrate ROI.
  • new poll from Gallup finds that although 96% of Chief Academic Officers at higher education institutions believe that their institutions do a good job preparing their students for the workforce, only 11% of business leaders agree. Gallup suggests three solutions to improve the mismatch: work-based learning, stronger career services at higher education institutions, and increased availability of information on job prospects for potential students.
  • SHRM’s annual report on employee benefits found that nearly one-third of employers haveincreased their overall benefits offerings in the last 12 months. Only 4% of SHRM members reported that their businesses offered student loan repayment assistance -- the same proportion reported last year. SHRM researchers suggest businesses struggling to recruit qualified employees, and those who want to attract millennials, are more likely to offer student loan assistance.
  • On Tuesday, Google officially launched its new job search function. The service, which is built into Google’s regular search engine, collects job postings from around the web, removes duplicates, and then allows job seekers to filter results by criteria such as location, sector, or job type. Google does not currently manage applications, but rather connects seekers to the job posting.

 

Corporate Learning and Development News

  • UpSkill America at the Aspen Institute released the "UpSkilling Playbook for Employers."this week, highlighting upskilling strategies like offering pathways to college degrees, apprenticeships, pre-employment training, certifications, high school completion/equivalency programs, and new employee training.
  • recent poll found that nearly three-quarters (74%) of senior executives want to see the ROI of training programs, but just 4% report that they do. Leaders from the ROI Institute, which conducted the poll, offer tips for CHROs to connect L&D programs to business objectives to better demonstrate ROI.
  • new poll from Gallup finds that although 96% of Chief Academic Officers at higher education institutions believe that their institutions do a good job preparing their students for the workforce, only 11% of business leaders agree. This mismatch may cause problems in the labor market, but Gallup suggests three solutions: work-based learning, stronger career services at higher education institutions, and increased availability of information on job prospects for potential students. 
  • Following on the release of the Business Roundtable’s report on how businesses are tackling America’s skills gap, a Business Insider piece questions whether a skills shortage exists. According to experts at the Center for Economic and Policy Research and Center for American Progress, low wage growth indicates that there may not be a skills shortage.
  • In a Fast Company op-ed, a professional career coach argues that companies could save money and see better results by replacing corporate training programs with in-house career coaches. By focusing on long-term growth rather than simply teaching a new skill, coaches may produce better outcomes both at work and in an employee’s personal life. 
  • The U.S. Department of Labor reported that there are nearly 350,000 job openings in the manufacturing sector, and one manufacturing executive suggests that the talent shortage is due to a lack of available education. The executive also notes that, in manufacturing, certificate programs are a potential solution that help workers develop specialized skills and show employers that they are dedicated to continuous learning. 
  • Policymakers have recently been referencing Germany’s successful apprenticeship approach as a model for America, but a Wall Street Journal op-ed suggests that Germany’s system cannot be replicated. The U.S. has moved away from vocational education, making it difficult to quickly follow Germany’s system that builds on years of experience. Apprenticeships also come at a cost: apprentices may enter the workforce with skills that become obsolete in a few years.

 

Credentials, Hiring, and Applicant Tracking News

  • McDonald’s has embraced Snapchat as a means for attracting new job applicants. The effort, which is aimed at younger workers, directs users from ads in the Snapchat app to the McDonald’s careers website, allowing them to easily apply for a position at their local franchise. 
  • recent survey released by MBO Partners, Inc. found that the number of freelance workers earning $100,000 or more has grown by 4.9% since last year, rising to 3.2 million people. The total number of freelance workers fell, from 16.9 to 16.2 million. 
  • new report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the construction industry group USG found that commercial contractors are expecting greater difficulty finding sufficiently skilled labor in the second half of 2017. This shortage could have a significant impact on future infrastructure projects
  • A recent article from TLNT explores how AI and machine learning can be used to improve the hiring process. Because AI is better than humans at avoiding bias, determining the right kinds of questions to use in an interview, and generating more descriptive job postings, it can prove an invaluable tool for selecting and refining applicant pools.
  • According to the Harvard Business Review, organizations make three crucial errors when hiring new leadership, leading to reduced effectiveness and increased friction with employees. However, if companies can more accurately judge prospective leaders’ values and culture, and have a sense of how entrenched their own company culture already is, they will be better able to find managers who actually fit.

 

General HR News

  • SHRM released its annual report on employee benefits that found nearly one-third of employers have increased their overall benefits offerings in the last 12 months. Only 4% of SHRM members reported that their businesses offered student loan repayment assistance -- the same proportion reported last year. SHRM researchers suggest businesses struggling to recruit qualified employees, and those who want to attract millennials, are more likely to offer student loan assistance.
  • A new report from the predictive recruiting software company ENGAGE Talent found that the median job tenure is only 3.67 years, six months less than the 4.2 year tenure found by the US Bureau of labor Statistics in January.
  • A recent article makes the case for taking the time to find the right talent-managing software suite for a company. The article notes that using a suite of services (rather than a collection of individual systems) can make for better end-to-end processing. For example, a talent management suite can support the integration a company’s learning management system to a career development planning system.

 

Employer Partnerships/Company Innovation

  • On Tuesday, Google officially launched its new job search function. The service, which is built into Google’s regular search engine, collects job postings from other websites, removes duplicates, and then allows job seekers to filter results by criteria such as location, sector, or job type. Google will not manage applications itself, but will only connect seekers to the job posting.
  • In other Google news, the company has announced that it will be opening a “Digital Skills Academy” in London to teach Britons of all ages new digital skills. The academy is set to open during London Tech Week this month, and will be housed in Google’s new London HQ.
  • Corporate learning company Skillsoft has launched Percipio, an online platform for digital learning. After $40 million in investments over the last year and a half, Percipio provides a robust library of educational content, as well as mobile support and personalized learning capabilities, with multiple planned expansions in the coming few years. 
  • Udacity’s recently launched program with the city of Reno, Udacity Connect: Reno-Tahoe, was featured at a VentureBeat event on tech training outside of Silicon Valley. The partnership provides a three-month nanodegree program that prepares residents to become full stack developers.
  • Talent Ready Utah, a state grant program aimed at developing educational collaboration and public-private partnerships, has funded over 70 projects and helped nearly 6,000 workers get credentials for advanced industries and manufacturing. The program is both assisting unemployed workers in the job search, and helping firms facing labor shortages find qualified workers.
  • The first cohort of MIT’s “MicroMasters” program in supply chain management has graduated, with over 600 learners qualifying for a master’s degree program. The success and overwhelming interest in the program could provide a model for other alternative-degree programs.

 

Startups, Innovation, and Investment News

  • Osso VR, a virtual reality training company for surgeons, raised $2 million in seed funding. SignalFire led the round, and was joined by Anorak Ventures. The funding will help the company scale production to meet the demand for hands-on training.
  • Py, a new startup backed by Y Combinator and the Yale Venture Creation Program, hasraised over $140,000 to develop their new app, which takes inspiration from language learning apps to teach users how to code through games, quizzes, and other activities.  
  • Academy Xi, a Sydney-based edtech startup, raised $1.7 million to expand its services into Singapore. The Series A funding round was led by Perle Ventures and Alium Capital. Academy Xi develops training programs and courses to teach users essential skills in technology and business.
  • EaseCentral, an HR and employee benefits software platform, raised $6.5 million in Series A funding from Propel Venture Partners, Freestyle Capital, Compound, Upside Partnership, and Transmedia Capital. EaseCentral, which is used by over 30,000 employers, provides cloud-based services and features to streamline HR management. 
  • Sense, an engagement platform for gig economy workers, raised $10 million in Series A funding led by Accel and GV. Other investors include Signia Venture Partners, IDG Ventures, and Khosla Ventures. Sense uses automated messages to communicate with job candidates and hired workers to boost engagement and reduce attrition.

 

Macroeconomic Trends and Public Policy

  • On Thursday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order on “Expanding Apprenticeships in America" to encourage businesses to establish so-called “earn and learn” programs. Under the order, the responsibility of developing federally-funded apprenticeship programs will shift from the U.S. Department of Labor to third-party private entities (e.g., businesses, trade groups, and labor unions), allowing these entities to set their own industry-specific standards. The order also recommends doubling federal funding for apprenticeship grants from $90 million to nearly $200 million; these funds are rumored to come from fees from the H-1B visa program. The executive order has been endorsed by the Business Roundtable.
  • President Trump’s initiative rests on the assumption of a sizeable skills gap being the cause of unfilled positions and unemployment, but many economists and a research indicates that the skills gap accounts for only a portion or none of the changes in the labor market. Rather, “polarization” -- where job growth is concentrated in low- and highly-skilled sectors -- in the job market has a much larger impact. 
  • Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 338, which would require the Secretary of Energy “to prioritize education and training for energy and manufacturing-related jobs.” The bill -- sponsored by Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) -- encourages outreach to minority-serving institutions and collaboration between schools, workforce-training programs, and federal agencies. The bill is currently with the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

 

Other

  • This summer, more than 40% of companies will offer “Summer Fridays” -- a benefit that offers workers the flexibility of taking a half-day of full-day off on Fridays. This is a 20% increase from the share of companies that offered the benefit in 2015.