We've got good news and bad news. The good news: business is booming, and companies are growing in nearly every industry across the board. The bad news: hiring essential talent has never been harder. Record low unemployment rates and the emergence of new technologies — many of which require niche skills — are making it more difficult than ever to secure the talent you need to drive your business forward.

However, we’ve discovered a rich, untapped pool of talent, and its location might surprise you.

In a past study, we found that nearly a third of respondents told us that continually learning and developing their skills has the greatest impact on their job satisfaction. In other words, you’re already sitting on a gold mine of skilled, pre-vetted candidates, and you have the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone: By empowering your staff with new digital skills, you can reduce whatever hiring challenges you face and increase engagement at the same time. Here's how to make it happen.

train them or lose them

It seems like a perfect situation: Employers want teams with more technical skills, and employees want to learn those skills. But these two desires don't align as often as you might think. In fact, a third of employee respondents said their employers don't offer enough opportunities to acquire new digital skills. And even among organizations that are dedicating themselves to staff development, some 76 percent of them don’t provide enough support to ensure proper utilization of newly implemented programs after the fact.

To start your upskilling journey, identify the areas that matter most to your business, define the technologies you're likely to invest in over the next three to five years and try to determine which skills will be needed to use those tools effectively. From there, take the time to analyze your current learning and development infrastructure. How equipped is it to meet the need for increased training? Is it easily accessible? Do you have the time, resources and expertise to update it in order to reflect emerging skills?

It's a safe bet that you said "no" to at least one of those questions. If that's the case, you need to reset your priorities.

Look, we get it. You're busy. You're beyond busy. You have other, more immediate day-to-day concerns bearing down on your calendar, so it's easy for training to take a back seat. Making matters worse, the employees who are most eager to gain new skills and advance their careers are probably the ones who are already swamped with existing projects and responsibilities. They're your best people — and you're going to lose them if you don't make upskilling a priority.

change starts at the top

Strengthening your workforce with new skills may not feel like the most urgent need, but if neglected now, it could pose significant problems with employee retention down the road. Ninety percent of employees are interested in learning new digital skills to further their careers, according to Randstad's research. That's a large pool of professionals who, if you don’t upskill, are likely to become dissatisfied and look for better opportunities elsewhere. So change needs to happen — and it needs to start with you.

First, ensure that all teams across your business are united around the same skill development priorities. Then, work with leaders at all levels to put new programs in place that empower your staff with new technical abilities. Communicate to managers the importance of professional development, and foster dialogue about how to continuously optimize your training efforts. Consider making this a formal initiative by creating a training and development community within your organization, made up of people at multiple professional levels, with every business function represented. This will enable diverse perspectives on training and a variety of viewpoints on what skills matter most within every team.

Ultimately, a cultural shift in how you approach training is what will be required to prevent ongoing learning and development from falling by the wayside when more immediate business needs arise.

learn more

Job satisfaction is critically important in today’s highly competitive labor market. If you want to retain your talent, you need to start focusing on increasing job satisfaction — and upskilling is one piece of the puzzle. To find out more, check out our skilling partners.