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Shaky economic conditions drive workers to seek upskilling, professional development

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A large majority of working professionals say continuing education and upskilling will benefit their careers, especially in the current job market, according to a June 22 report from professional education company Emeritus.

About 80% of survey respondents said upskilling would help them stand out, and 74% said they would choose a job at an organization that invested in their education over one that did not.

“Despite economic uncertainty, individuals are turning to continuing education and upskilling courses to create career opportunities,” Ashwin Damera, CEO and co-founder of Emeritus, said in a statement.

“In a uniquely dynamic labor market, the results also highlight the huge opportunity that education programs provide for companies to increase employee engagement, drive retention and attract new employees,” he said.

In a survey of 6,600 people across 18 countries, most said their interest in upskilling has increased due to recent economic conditions. Across the past three years of the survey, interest and investment in continuing education has continued to increase globally, with a significant uptick in the last year. Although workers may be cautious about personal or household spending, education is seen as a necessary investment for professional opportunities and career advancement, according to the report.

Looking at the year ahead, 30% of survey respondents said they’re likely to leave a job, while 52% plan to transition to a new field. In response, employer investment in learning and development could be key for both recruitment and retention purposes — 82% of workers said professional education leads to higher engagement, cultivates commitment and supports well-being at work.

Along with economic concerns, professionals are focused on filling skills gaps related to technological advancements and other needs. About half of survey respondents said they fear being replaced by technology if they don’t continue to level up their skills, and a similar number said they lack the necessary skills for career advancement.

Companies are taking note of this training trend amid the current labor market, particularly in the IT sector, where about half of companies reportedly are upskilling their workers to address staffing challenges. Even as the hiring outlook remains strong this quarter, organizations are investing in upskilling and reskilling to ensure teams are prepared for the future of work.

As leaders plan for and implement learning and development options, however, they should also consider potential barriers to access, according to a recent report. Concerns about child care, work schedules and financial tradeoffs may make some learning opportunities more difficult for workers to pursue.

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