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Why there is a widening workforce readiness gap in the UK

A rapidly increasing pace of change is leaving organisations, and their people, struggling to keep up. Now, new research from Cornerstone has revealed the workforce readiness gap that is impacting UK businesses at every level.

Today’s workforce faces immense pressure to keep up with the pace of change. For one, there are constant and rapid changes in job markets, as well significant economic uncertainties and challenges. A case in point – the latest unemployment figures from the Office for National Statistics show the UK unemployment rate has climbed to 4.3% in the last three months, the highest figure on record since last summer.

On top of these pressures, there is also the continual emergence of new technologies which, despite offering much value, can cause disruption and uncertainty. For instance, the IMF recently likened AI to a “tsunami” hitting the global labour market.

Amid this shifting landscape, it can be hard for employees and employers alike to remain adaptable and prepared. Now, new research* highlights these challenges and the urgent need for UK organisations to bridge the “workforce readiness gap”.

Defining the workforce readiness gap

What actually is the workforce readiness gap? It is the result of an organisation’s inability to identify and develop essential skills, address the evolving development needs of their workforce, and leverage critical employee insights. The readiness gap can lead to skill shortages in the workplace, which can have a direct impact on productivity, employee retention, customer satisfaction, and unrealised revenue.

This could be tied to some of the concerning findings emerging from this recent report, including the fact that more than half (63%) of UK employees feel their productivity at work is at max capacity. Additionally, 47% of employees are planning to leave within the next 3-6 months or are unsure on whether to stay, and 39% of employers have seen revenues stagnate or worsen over the last 12 months.

Currently, however, just 40% of employees feel they receive the adequate training and development to do their job well, while 51% of employees do not think their employer keeps track of skills in the organisation.

Pace of Change vs. Workforce Readiness

  • 61% of UK employees feel their work environment is moving quicker than ever, and the same percentage find that AI has increased the pace of change. This rapid acceleration of change in the workplace is leaving many employees feeling overwhelmed and struggling to keep up.
  • Meanwhile, 63% of UK executives view their workforce as being underprepared for change, highlighting the common concerns that are felt across both leadership and the employees on the ground.
  • Furthermore, 45% of UK employees do not think they have the support and resources to adapt to changing work conditions, leaving many ill-equipped to navigate the evolving landscape.

Skills Readiness and Training Gaps

  • While 77% of UK employers feel their workforce receives adequate training and development, only 40% of employees feel the same – a 37% confidence gap. This stark contrast suggests that many organisations may be overestimating the effectiveness of their training programmes.
  • Nearly half (51%) of UK employees do not think their employer keeps track of skills in the organisation, indicating a lack of visibility and strategic management of workforce capabilities.

The Value of Effective Training

  • UK employees with skills aligned with their employer’s needs are 2.5 times more motivated to make a difference in their work/company, underscoring the importance of targeted skill development for engagement and productivity.
  • UK employees with adequate training resources are twice as likely to be equipped to adapt to changes at work, highlighting the critical role of accessible and relevant training in building a resilient workforce.
  • UK employees in organisations that promote skills development are three times happier and have no plans to quit, demonstrating the positive impact of learning culture on employee satisfaction and retention.

*Research from Cornerstone OnDemand

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