A recent survey of HR professionals finds 67% report placing more emphasis on reskilling and upskilling efforts, according to CompTIA, a technology trade association based in suburban Chicago.
The association’s “Workforce and Learning Trends 2021” report also shows that the need is even more pressing for large organizations, with 79% pursuing initiatives to address skills gaps and a tightening labor market for tech talent. Year-to-date U.S. employers posted nearly one million job ads seeking to hire a range of IT infrastructure, software, cybersecurity, data and emerging tech positions.
Seventy-four percent of HR professionals report concern over workplace digital divides. In response, nearly 40% report offering new or expanded broadband and technology stipends to work-from-home (WFH) staff. The majority of HR professionals expect pandemic induced WFH arrangements to remain in place to some degree on a permanent basis.
Beyond the critical day-to-day role of enabling remote work and virtual business models, technology continues to touch every facet of the workforce in new ways. Approximately one in three HR professionals expect artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled technologies to begin having a significant impact in human resource management. Another 46% expect AI and related smart data and automating technologies to have a moderate impact. The top areas where HR professionals are actively using or exploring AI-enabled tools include competency assessments and hiring process management (71%), employee self-service (ESS) tools (71%) and career pathway modeling (68%).
“Despite some misperceptions and misgivings, AI-enabled technologies and data-driven tools will increasingly play a role in learning and career development,” said Tim Herbert, executive vice president for research and market intelligence at CompTIA. “The quest to move beyond mundane one-size-fits-all approaches with greater personalization and flexibility has the potential to further cultivate a continuous learning mindset for both workers and employers.”
A strong majority of HR professionals (three in four) report support for relaxing or eliminating the four-year degree requirement for job candidates. For many positions, the four-year degree prerequisite and other forms of “over-spec’ing” create artificial barriers to expanding the labor pipeline. Forty-four percent of HR professionals acknowledge organizational resistance to change as a source of friction in changing practices around four-year degree requirements, while another 42% acknowledge the “safer choice” mindset.
With most HR professionals expecting to be in hiring mode over the next 12 months, especially for technology roles (62%) and sales, marketing or customer service roles (55%), the need to consider alternative learning and career pathways is apparent. A net 83% of HR professionals indicate the will consider candidates for IT support and helpdesk positions without a four-year degree, with similar levels of consideration for related positions in data and databases (80%), software or web development (75%) and cybersecurity (73%).
The study aggregates data and expertise from a number of sources, including a survey of 400 U.S. human resources and workforce learning professionals conducted during Q1 2021.
Many of the thought processes around effective workplace support were impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. The results of the study underscore the need for changes to the overall approach to doing business.