Digital credentials’ appeal is strong, while corporate upskilling moves at a ‘snail’s pace’

Surveys out this week from IBM and LinkedIn take a closer look at the role of digital credentials and other forms upskilling in education and on the job.

Interest in upskilling and short-term credentials, either as an alternative or an add-on to college, has grown steadily over the past few years. And a couple of surveys out this week take a closer look at the role digital credentials and other forms upskilling can play in bridging the gap between formal education and work.

A major IBM survey fielded in 13 countries, including the United States, found that almost half of students, job seekers, and career changers are interested in jobs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)—but more than 61% think they aren’t qualified because they lack the right degrees.

  • 75% of respondents thought that digital credentials were a good way to supplement traditional education, but only 47% were actually familiar with such credentialing programs.
  • Among those who’d earned a digital credential, 86% said that it helped them achieve their career goals.

Eight in 10 people surveyed said they planned to upgrade their skills in the next two years—but time, cost, or simply not knowing how to begin were major barriers. Among both students and job seekers, 40% said that they don’t know where to start in developing new professional or technical skills.

Upskilling through employers

Companies looking to attract and keep those job seekers can make themselves more attractive by helping them navigate the world of workforce credentials, according to another new survey, this one LinkedIn’s annual Workplace Learning Report

More than nine in 10 organizations are concerned about keeping their employees, it found. And two of the top five reasons employees look for a new job involve a desire to learn and grow

  • Young workers, aged 18 to 34, are especially likely to say that opportunities for career growth (35%) and to learn and develop new skills (31%) are top factors they look for in considering new jobs.

Yet large-scale reskilling and upskilling efforts at companies are “moving at a snail’s pace,” writes Linda Jingfang Cai, vice president of talent development at LinkedIn. About 40% of companies are still in the earliest stages—getting key stakeholders on board and forming teams—and only 2% have a mature program, the survey found.

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