Is upskilling the solution to hiring challenges for employers? Many believe it is. Would rage applying or quiet quitting be trending if employers were investing in the lives (and ultimately livelihoods) of their team members? Maybe less so.

A 2021 Workforce study surveyed over 18,000 frontline workers across 150 companies, stating their number one reason for leaving their job. Guess what came out top? Lack of career growth opportunities. So if you still need to give upskilling due praise, now’s the time to shift gears and equip candidates and current staff with tools for career development.

We discuss upskilling and how it’s the pathway to happiness, as well as the key to employees feeling like they’re winning at life.

How Upskilling Fosters a Happier Workplace

Upskilling involves providing current employees with training and development opportunities to help them gain new skills and knowledge. This can be beneficial when in-demand trends arise/advance and skill gaps present themselves. It can provide an opportunity for companies to invest in their current workforce by offering tools and educational courses that help individuals to advance in the business pipeline. By doing this, companies save themselves the effort of recruiting and introducing new talent to the team.

ClearCompany research shows that “across mentally healthy organizations, 69% of employees were offered professional development opportunities.”

Gold Stars for Employers

 Employers benefit from investing in their in-house workforce in the following ways:

  • Staff retention rates are 30-50% more for companies with strong learning cultures.
  • Engagement is 15% more in employees with access to career development, benefitting the business by efficiently reaching goals.
  • Happier company culture is another outcome of upskilling, with 76% of millennials confirming that professional upskilling at work plays a role in their company culture – a huge motivation for Gen Z too.
  • Up to 58% of employees report being more satisfied in their jobs when upskilling is part of company culture. Employee happiness leads to 41% reduced absenteeism and higher customer satisfaction too.
  • Studies have even shown that a business’s total revenue can be affected by up to 34% when employers are discontent and miserable.

When fighting a war on talent, the key is to invest in the talent available to you! It’s clear – ensure employees are happy by offering a leg-up in knowledge and opportunity. Show empathy in the workplace by caring about employee potential.

The Real Winners in Upskilling are Lower & Middle-Class Workers

Yes, you read the correctly. Lower-class workers are plentiful. Plus, the American middle class is struggling more than ever, with more and more households falling into the ‘lower-class’ sector, anxiously rubbing shoulders with poverty.

Pew Research had the following findings in their 2021 government data analysis:

  • The share of the lower class has increased from 25% to 29% from 1971 to 2021.
  • Household incomes since 1971 have increased, but the percentage increase is highest in upper-income households. For the middle-class, gains over the past 50 years are up by only 50%, and in low-income homes by 45%.
  • Regression in earnings over the past 50 years saw more people entering the lower-income tier, especially those without degrees, even if they had college experience. In 1971 only 8% of those with bachelor’s degrees were in the lower-income level, but today 13% of people with a qualification find themselves stuck in low-income sectors.
  • In the same category, those with less than a high school graduation made up 41% of the lower-income group in 1971. Today this demographic makes up 57% of the low-earners.

Wages are down, part-time jobs are plentiful, debt is crippling, and saving margins are slim or non-existent. It’s far from an exaggeration to describe the situation as desperate.

But this is where upskilling can have a real and lasting impact.

Upskilling Can Change the Future

Boosting education levels and upskilling allows middle- and lower-class workers a chance to realize gains and move further away from poverty…and closer to empowerment.

Here are the benefits of upskilling and what it can do for low- or middle-income workers:

  • Learning empowers workers and boosts self-determination.
  • Higher earning potential.
  • Opportunities for career advancement, sometimes in new job markets and industries.
  • Enhanced job security and employability.
  • Education and skill-mastering foster self-actualization (feeling of fulfillment, self-image, and pride). One study showed that 80% of employees attributed upskilling/reskilling training to a boost in their confidence.
  • Increased job satisfaction and sense of accomplishment.
  • Higher education has a long-term impact on a person’s health by affecting their happiness.
  • Positive impact on mental health and well-being.
  • Increased motivation and engagement in work.
  • Learning broadens one’s perspective —of others, the world, circumstances, and possibilities— and is linked to greater happiness.
  • Formal educational programs equip people to make better decisions, especially concerning economic assessments.

The Gift of Elevating Income Class and World Effectiveness

Top talent needs to be retained and future-proofed. With trends of resignations and sudden job shifts, upskilling or reskilling is vital for staff retention, business success, and overall work culture. But more importantly, by upskilling your workforce, you offer a helping hand to the many outrunning poverty.

By investing in their skills and knowledge, eager-to-learn employees can improve their job security, earning potential, and career opportunities. Moreover, upskilling provides a sense of personal growth, fulfillment, and empowerment, which can have a positive impact on mental health and well-being.

As recruiters and businesses recognize the benefits of upskilling, we can expect to see an empowered and motivated workforce better able to meet the demands of a rapidly changing job market. By supporting upskilling initiatives and encouraging employees to take advantage of training opportunities, we can help create a happier future for all.

Jenna-lea Kelland

Jenna-lea is a freelance content editor, writer, and master multi-tasker based in the wonderful city of Cape Town. She has written about various topics, both in print and online. When the laptop shuts, she enjoys dips in the ocean, thrilling novels, or exploring the coastal towns and foodie hubs with her family.