Upskilling is a huge priority—but by which methods? Managers aren’t skilled enough in new tech to train, employees wonder if it’s on them to learn

by | Jul 8, 2024 | Public Relations

Success in today’s business landscape means becoming skilled in new technologies like generative AI, and this has been clear for a year or more—but the training hasn’t materialized for most, and employees aren’t sure if they should expect it, according to new research from learning tech firm D2L. To improve or retain their own value in the workforce, is it necessary for workers of all ranks to seek their own upskilling methods, perhaps through formal education—and on their own dime?

The firm’s new report, Invest, Upskill, Excel, in partnership with Morning Consult, affirms that the need for skills development is not in question—employers and employees across the US equally recognize the critical need to offer and pursue new skills for higher retention, productivity, and adaptation. Business leaders can’t train them—they don’t have the skills either. However, employee uptake of learning and development offerings remains a challenge—and barriers like time, money and a lack of motivation can often impede their pursuit of new skills. 

learning and development

The results of the U.S. based survey of employers and employees show:

  • learning and development82 percent of learning and development leadership rank talent acquisition and retention as the most concerning human resources challenge facing their organizations today.
  • 83 percent of employees recognize that ongoing skills development is important to their overall job performance, signaling a strong interest in continuous upskilling opportunities.
  • 41 percent of employees would look to their current employer first for building job- or industry-specific skills, while only 17 percent would look to a community college and only 14 percent would seek out a university for the same training.
  • The primary motivators for employees pursuing additional education or training are increased earning potential (64 percent) and career advancement opportunities (44 percent).


  • Only half of employees (51 percent) have completed any formal education or training outside work in the past five years.
  • Time constraints (42 percent) and a lack of motivation (35 percent) are the top-rated barriers for employees to pursuing additional training or education at their jobs.
  • Although 42 percent of employees prefer online education or training to in-person-only offerings, only 29 percent of organizations report using education technology to deliver training.

“What this data shows us is that there is a clear opportunity to help make a positive change when it comes to upskilling that could dramatically shift the way employees learn and grow while strengthening organizations,” said John Baker, founder and CEO of D2L, in a news release. “At D2L, we’ve seen firsthand how integrating technology can help enhance training delivery and help management address skills gaps and foster a culture of continuous improvement. Learning and development is no longer a nice to have but a necessity to help ensure the workforce is equipped to meet the evolving demands of the modern workplace.”

The report explores the data in-depth and offers strategic recommendations for learning and development leaders to help bridge the skills gap within their organizations and build a more engaged, productive and innovative workforce

learning and development

The report’s recommendations include:

Recognizing that your talent strategy is your business strategy

Continuous skills development is important not just for individual growth but also for organizational resilience and success. Learning and development opportunities should be not only relevant and engaging, but also directly aligned with business goals.

Prioritizing strategic learning opportunities

Tailored, outcome-focused learning experiences can help ensure that employees receive training that is directly applicable to their job functions, enhancing their engagement and effectiveness, and ultimately creating a stronger, more resilient workplace.

Leveraging metrics to track return on investment

Establishing a robust framework for tracking and analyzing the upskilling outcomes of training programs can significantly enhance their effectiveness and alignment with business goals.

Integrating education technology to help enhance learning delivery and management

As organizations seek to meet the diverse needs of their workforce, leveraging technology can help enhance both the delivery and management of training initiatives.

Download the full report here.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter


7 benefits of building authentic relationships with influencers

7 benefits of building authentic relationships with influencers

In today's digital landscape, influencer marketing stands as a formidable tool for brands aiming to reach target audiences and build brand awareness. However, just investing in popular influencers isn't enough. Consumers are looking for authenticity and can easily...

Maximizing the impact of influencer marketing on consumer behavior

Maximizing the impact of influencer marketing on consumer behavior

Influencer marketing has emerged as a pivotal strategy in modern digital advertising, leveraging the popularity and authority of individuals with large followings on social media platforms to promote products and services. Unlike traditional celebrity endorsements,...