Workers Most Value Training And Education, Study Shows

Upskilling programs, defined as training or education that teaches new skills or advances or upgrades existing skills, can present a compelling opportunity for workers and businesses. A study by Gallup and commissioned by Amazon, “The American Upskilling Study: Empowering Workers for the Jobs of Tomorrow,” found that upskilling is becoming a sought-after employee benefit and powerful attraction tool for employers amid the current labor shortage.

The study found that among workers, upskilling is associated with an additional 8.6 percent in annual income—about $8,000 on average—higher job satisfaction overall and an increased standard of living. Thirty percent of workers said they were able to move into new, higher-paying jobs after gaining new skills, and 39 percent said they advanced in their current job. Seventy-one percent of workers who upskilled said it led to greater job satisfaction.

Among employers, the data shows that upskilling opportunities help attract new employees. Sixty-five percent of workers say the opportunity to participate in an upskilling program was an "extremely" or "very" important factor in deciding to take a new job, and 61 percent cited it as important when weighing the decision to remain at their current job. For young adults, upskilling is the third-most important benefit behind only health insurance and disability.

"Upskilling is a massive engine for skill-generation and upward mobility in both income and wellbeing," says Dr. Jonathan Rothwell, principal economist at Gallup. "If brought to a larger scale and to more workers, upskilling could dramatically boost economic growth and reduce wage inequality. Across the country, there is too much 'skilling of the skilled,' whereas upskilling opportunities need to be available to everyone."

However, the data revealed that upskilling opportunities are disproportionately offered to the highest-skilled workers, yet those who want it most are the least likely to have participated in upskilling or to say their employer provides it. More than two-thirds of workers in computers and mathematics have skills training opportunities provided by their company, while only 37 percent of workers in transportation and 36 percent in food services have access to training.

"The American Upskilling Study makes it clear that employees across the country are hungry for employer-provided skills training that will help advance their careers," says Ardine Williams, Amazon's vice president of workforce development. "We're seeing that at Amazon, too. More than 70,000 Amazon employees have participated in one of our nine upskilling programs since 2019. Our more than $1.2 billion commitment, which includes funding full college tuition for our front-line employees, aims to upskill 300,000 Amazon employees by 2025 by scaling and growing our successful programs to prepare employees for the jobs of today and the future. It will also help us continue to attract people from all backgrounds who want to develop their career at Amazon."

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