Continued education key to filling skills gaps, RMIT reports
Lifelong learning in the workforce is going to be key to filling skills gaps, according to a new white paper.
RMIT Online’s ‘Learn. Work. Repeat. The value of lifelong learning in professional industries’ white paper argued that digital disruption, longer career spans and a “shift towards more non-routine, cognitive-based jobs” necessitate continued education beyond a “stint ending in [workers’] 20s”.
The university’s survey of over 600 Australian businesses in professional industries revealed 88% of employers “find it hard to get employees with the skills they need”. Of respondents, 48% struggled to find employees with coding or programming capabilities while 49% had difficulty getting employees with data analysis skills. Employees with problem-solving abilities and latest industry-specific knowledge were also hard to find, according to 62% and 53% of employers, respectively.
Currently, 49% of businesses try to beat their organisation’s skills shortages by hiring new employees while 45% deliver internal education and training.
“This is the case even though the risks of hiring a new employee can be higher than those associated with building the skills of current workers, with the cost of replacing a bad hiring decision within six months estimated to be 2.5 times the worker’s salary,” the white paper said.
Additionally, over two-thirds of respondents believed the benefits of upskilling are shared roughly equally between the individual and the business, with businesses often achieving better customer and client services, RMIT Online reported.
The recommendations in the white paper highlight the urgent need to adapt with a rapidly evolving workforce culture and demand, said RMIT Online CEO Helen Souness.
“The evolution of work is charging full steam ahead and Australia’s global competitiveness is on the line,” she said.
“The findings in our white paper offer an optimistic glimpse into the future of work and industry 5.0, where lifelong learning can unlock the potential of emerging technologies, flying in the face of fears that ‘robots will take our jobs’.
“This new environment is one where individuals thrive and succeed through self-expansion and constant reinvention enabled by lifelong learning. While this will require a shift in traditional ways of thinking, it represents an exciting opportunity for growth, both on an economic and personal level, that continues well beyond the years we spend in school or university,” Souness concluded.
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