What We're Reading: New Skills, Talent and Employment Edition

Top Highlights

Despite low overall diversity measures in the tech industry, a new study reveals that nearly 80% of high-tech industry workers are satisfied with their organization’s diversity efforts. Only 45% of workers say the industry is in need of more programs promoting diversity.

According to a recent report, having at least one woman in a C-suite position can triple the number of women in a company’s management sectors. Fortune recommends holding the leadership team accountable for diversity efforts to produce this result.

Coursera introduced its first bachelor’s degree program, in partnership with the University of London. Industry analysts pointed to the move as the beginning of a shift by MOOCs toward offering more traditional degrees.

The American Hotel & Lodging Educational Foundation, in partnership with Pearson’s AcceleratED Pathways program, announced an initiative to offer degree programs at no cost to employees across 1,500 hotel properties.

Josh Bersin offers insights into the future of work, including AT&T’s internal transparency around what skills are most in-demand at the company and which skills are being utilized less, allowing employees to upskill to fit needed roles in areas they find interesting. 

TLNT argues that augmented reality could be used to improve, rather than disrupt, the workplace by supplementing teaching mechanisms, performing certain tasks (e.g., identifying safety issues), and helping managers with performance reviews.

Noting employers’ interest in hiring individuals that already have the skills needed to succeed, Robert Lerman of the Urban Institute argues that investments in apprenticeships are the best use of company tax savings resulting from the recent tax overhaul.

The Harvard Business Review notes that women and minorities in the workplace are more often given lower-prestige “office housework” tasks and are less likely to be offered “glamour” tasks-- those projects or initiatives likely to set them up for promotion, provide greater internal visibility, or offer opportunities to develop new skills.  This “assignments gap”, the authors argue, may impact corporate diversity, particularly for leadership positions. (Harvard Business Review, subscription required)

 

Corporate Learning and Development News

Josh Bersin offers insights into the future of work, including AT&T’s internal transparency around what skills are most in-demand at the company and which skills are being utilized less, allowing employees to upskill to fit needed roles in areas they find interesting. 

McKinsey Quarterly explores the “talent-first CEO”, what a people-driven culture means for corporate structure, and why corporate leaders are more focused on talent acquisition and development than ever before.

A new survey conducted by CareAcademy, in partnership with Southern New Hampshire University, found that more than half of professional caregivers want to obtain more education, and that minority groups and those making less than $35,000 per year were more likely to be interested in pursuing a higher degree. 

Forbes explores 9 ways in which companies can help employees adapt to new technology in the workplace. By gradually introducing a product, incentivizing its use, providing training and mentoring with learning sessions, and engaging employees in the promotion of its value, companies can effectively integrate the new technology. 

According to the Institute for the Future, improving upon 15 “super skills" can help workers prepare for technological, economic, and societal change. 

In Talent Economy, author and software engineer Susan Fowler explores new breakthroughs in motivation science, arguing that leadership development strategies should focus on three core areas: encourage autonomy; deepen relatedness; and build competence.

TLNT argues that augmented reality could be used to improve, rather than disrupt, the workplace by supplementing teaching mechanisms, performing certain tasks (e.g., identifying safety issues), and helping managers with performance reviews.

 

Credentials, Hiring, and Applicant Tracking News

Noting employers’ interest in hiring individuals that already have the skills needed to succeed, Robert Lerman of the Urban Institute argues that investments in apprenticeships are the best use of company tax savings resulting from the recent tax overhaul.

According to the Harvard Business Review, there has been little progress in economic mobility for African-Americans despite consistent media attention to racial wealth gaps. Between 1967 and 2016, African-American median household incomes increased from 55% that of whites to just 61%, and black men and women represent less than 8% of the professional white-collar workforce. (Harvard Business Review, subscription required)

The Harvard Business Review also notes that women and minorities in the workplace are more often given lower-prestige “office housework” tasks and are less likely to be offered “glamour” tasks-- those projects or initiatives likely to set them up for promotion, greater internal visibility, or that offer opportunities to develop new skills.  This “assignments gap”, the authors argue, may impact corporate diversity, particularly for leadership positions. (Harvard Business Review, subscription required)

Despite low overall diversity measures in the tech industry, a new study reveals that nearly 80% of high-tech industry workers are satisfied with their organization’s diversity efforts. Only 45% of workers say the industry is in need of more programs promoting diversity.

According to a recent report, having at least one woman in a C-suite position can triple the number of women in a company’s management sectors. Fortune recommends holding the leadership team accountable for diversity efforts to produce this result.

In 2016, more than 340,000 people with disabilities joined the American workforce, representing a significant increase from the 87,000 who joined the workforce in 2015. RespectAbility, which released the poll, noted that significant employment gaps still exist in states such as West Virginia.

According to sociologists at Harvard and Stanford, the influx of new companies in the American economy has led to greater racial segregation in the workplace than in the 1970s, despite the fact that there are more diversity training programs and inclusion initiatives today.

 

General HR News

A recent study found that less than 15% of Fortune 500 board seats were held by minorities in 2016. Forbes spoke with three of the 11 Latino Fortune 500 CEOs about their strategies and philosophies for growing and sustaining their businesses..

The arrival of huge company distribution warehouses, such as those of Amazon and FedEx, to local labor markets is increasing wages for forklift drivers and general laborers -- and also setting record lows in the vacancy rate for industrial space. 

Many business functions are beginning to shift away from written narratives to "post-text" communications dominated by video and voice. TLNT predicts that video and voice alternatives will supplement written work in certain functions within the next few years.  

According to Forbes, increasing human capital transparency, playing “defense” against the gig economy, redefining the manager role, simplifying resources, and adjusting the CFO’s role in managing compensation costs are five trends that are reshaping the work of HR professionals. 

Talent Economy identified five best practices in creating an inclusive transgender culture in the workplace, including using preferred pronouns, honoring individual confidentiality; and providing access to gender-neutral bathrooms. 

 

Employer Partnerships/Company Innovation

On March 5, Coursera, one of the largest MOOC providers, introduced its first bachelor’s degree program in computer science in partnership with the University of London. Industry analysts pointed to the move as the beginning of a shift toward offering more traditional degrees.

This week, Cengage announced a partnership with the safety training provider S/P2 to bring online safety, pollution and soft skills training programs to its platform. 

The American Hotel & Lodging Educational Foundation, in partnership with Pearson’s AcceleratED Pathways program, announced an initiative to offer degree programs at no cost to employees across 1,500 hotel properties.

 

Startups, Innovation, and Investment News

Degreed, an online skill-based learning platform, raised $42 million in a funding round co-led by Owl Ventures and Jump Capital, with participation from Founders Circle Capital and existing investors.

JustWorks, an HR technology platform, raised $40 million in a Series D funding round led by FirstMark Capital. Other investors included Index Ventures, Thrive Capital, Bain Capital and Repoint Ventures.

Upskill, developers of an AR platform for industrial and enterprise use, raised $17.2 million in a funding round that included Accenture and Cisco Investments as well as participation from existing investors Boeing HorizonX, GE Ventures, New Enterprise Associates and others.

 

Macroeconomic Trends and Public Policy

On March 6, the Wage and Hour division of the Department of Labor announced a new pilot program designed to improve the resolution of inadvertent overtime and minimum wage violations. Known as the Payroll Audit Independent Determination (PAID) program, the initiative will allow employers who discover mistakes in overtime pay or wages to come forward and correct their mistakes. This allows employers to make a good faith effort to fix any issues, avoiding costly litigation and providing employees with a faster resolution.  

WorldAtWork writes that after the passage of the December’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), in addition to minimum wage increases and bonuses, employers are also considering more strategic plans to invest in training and position themselves for growth.

 

Other

A new survey from Harvard data scientist Andrew Reece found that most employees find personal growth opportunities to be the biggest factors in making work meaningful. In an article about the research, Inc. offers a few tips for workers looking to focus more on self-care and personal growth, including being proactive about time management and spending time away from the desk.

An article in Society for Human Resource Management examines recent legal arguments around age discrimination, and explores the ways in which HR professionals can avoid and prevent ageist practices in the workplace.