By Alan C. Brawn CTS, DSCE, DSDE, DCME, DSNE, DSSP, ISF-C
Mostly triggered by the pandemic, but in truth beginning even before 2020, it is safe to say that this is the most “interesting” (and some might say volatile) time in recent memory for companies, jobs, and job seekers. As we speak, I am looking at the daily CNN Business feed. It leads off with “Last year was a historic one for American jobs. A record number of workers quit their jobs while US employers had more positions to fill than ever before.” To support the claim of historic significance for American jobs, they quote some interesting and relevant data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In December 2021, 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs, down slightly from the record 4.5 million in November. Even though a record number of people quit their jobs last year, the US labor market still recorded a net employment gain of 6.4 million jobs. In total, 75.3 million workers where hired, while 68.9 million quit, were laid off, or fired. Out of these so-called “separations”, 47.4 million were voluntary quits. Job openings stood at 10.9 million in December, compared with the data series high of 11.1 million recorded in July. Referring to job change and migration, the mainstream media has coined the term “The Great Resignation” to label this time period and trend. What we do know, is that there are jobs out there to be filled… and these must be matched with people able and willing to fill them.
As we can see there is an acceleration of people leaving jobs for one reason or another. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics tell us that 22% of wage and salary workers stay at a job less than 1 year! It is safe to say that such short job tenure is not good for employers, employees, or even overall industries. It is imperative to recognize the void that is left as people either change from one job to another or drop out of the work force entirely. Companies need to recognize the reality of the rapidly changing workforce and deal with the implications. Of course, there is the immediate need to fill a job opening, but in a more pervasive sense, understand the acquisition costs of hiring and training and the benefits and options in employee retention. The “holy grail” is to get the workforce issues understood, under control, and manageable.
For companies the labor shortage is as real as it gets. Employees are the means to an end in meeting the objectives of a company and if jobs cannot be filled then the company and their customers suffer. This begs the question of what to do about this… One example of a response is from Home Depot, the world’s largest home improvement retailer. They have introduced an “accelerated” hiring process as part of its plan to hire more than 100,000 new associates ahead of its busy spring season. In their program job applicants “could receive an offer within one day of applying.” Eric Schelling, Home Depot’s vice president of global talent acquisition says, “In today’s climate, jobseekers are shopping for the best opportunity.” To attract workers, Home Depot said it offers jobseekers various incentives, including upskilling programs, tuition reimbursement, a cash bonus program and discounted stock purchases.
Forward thinking companies know that in today’s job market “just providing a place to work” is not enough. Research shows that one of the major keys to employee attraction and retention is what Home Depot calls “upskilling programs”. Last year, a majority of U.S. employers said that a significant difficulty in filling jobs was the skills gap. A recent Gartner survey found that 58% of employees felt that they needed new skills to successfully do their work. This points to the need for companies to provide a training strategy creating standardized growth opportunities for employees that otherwise might feel unsupported by managers and senior leaders. The challenge is what to do about the skills gap.
To close this gap, organizations must prioritize and invest in continued learning opportunities like microcredentials (aka mini-qualifications) that enhance an individual’s skills and knowledge in a specific subject area. By leveraging existing microcredentials programs companies can effectively upskill and reskill their employees.
Microcredentials are “bite-sized educational courses” narrower in focus, and take a finite amount of time to complete, in as little as one-hour sessions. They can range in topics from business to technical to professional development. By design they are attainable, accessible, and affordable upskilling opportunities that can be accessed individually or in conjunction with a business organization’s strategy. They have proven to be part of both employee retention and attraction and provide job growth scenarios inside a company.
In the world of AV and digital signage a great example of upskilling and a resource for micro credentials is the program and offerings from the Digital Signage Federation (www.digitalsignagefederation.org). The mission of the DSF is to grow the digital signage industry through professional development. The DSF offers access to two types of industry credentials: Microcredentials and certifications. The DSF online education microcredentials program is a set of stacking credentials for individuals on a vast array of topics which are earned through taking short online courses and completing a short assessment. After course completion the participant receives an industry recognized certificate of completion and a digital badge to use on their materials, signatures, or social media. This meets the criteria of being attainable, accessible, and affordable.
On a company level, offering micro credentials and certifications illustrates a commitment to employee development. On the employee level it shows a dedication to your profession and provides verification that you’re well-trained to effectively use the tools of your industry. Taking the time and effort to obtain these credentials can show that you are a valuable contributor to your profession and help you gain recognition for your commitment to continuous learning and self-improvement. The top advantages of becoming credentialed and certified in your profession include:
- Competitive advantage
- Earning potential
- Expand knowledge and skills
- Professional credibility
In this time of job migration and volatility microcredentials can help retain employees and have the potential to attract new, highly-qualified employees. We do know their implementation enhances the bottom line. As one experts opines, “A company culture that values continued learning, career development and advancement, and helps employees achieve greatness can be an appealing selling point in today’s fierce competition for talent.” Employee development and retention is the new gold standard for companies and employing micro credentials are a great tool and a productive means to that end.
Brawn Consulting – www.brawnconsulting.com – (442) 245-8332