A recently released survey from the College for America shows that seven out of 10 companies say that when it comes to filling management positions their strategy puts a priority on filling the position from within rather than hiring someone from the outside.

There’s a problem, though. In the same survey, 87 percent of the respondents said that their employees were missing the talents and skills needed to actually be promoted. Eighty-five percent also said they had trouble finding well-qualified applicants.

This may be one of the reasons that so many companies are starting to put more emphasis on training and employee development and why so many people seem to be writing about the topic in the HR space recently.

Learning is Key to Millennials:

Since we’ve already been talking statistics, here’s another number for you: according to Deloitte, by 2025 Millennials will make up 75 percent of the global workforce. With a figure like that, wouldn’t it make sense to devote some time to understanding how to engage Millennials in the workplace?

Matthew Kosinski at Recruiter.com looked at the recent PwC Millennial’s survey and developed a theory based on the findings. Kosinski says that the things Millennials claim are most important to them in a potential employer — regular feedback, the opportunity to build relationships, innovative thinking — can all be found in training programs. If it is true that Millennials want the benefits that come from training, then making training a core part of your company culture can satisfy most of their needs:

“PwC found that personal learning and development are ‘the most essential benefits’ that Millennials want from employers, more essential, even, than cash rewards. Over 50 percent of Millennials in PwC’s survey named ‘opportunities for career progression’ the No. 1 most attractive quality an employer can have—again, beating out paychecks.

“In short, the kids don’t want money—they want to learn.”

Teach People How to Learn:

So if training is necessary to build promotable employees and is wanted by younger employees, doesn’t it make sense that companies spend some time making sure it’s actually productive? That’s the argument Thomas Handcock, senior director at CEB, makes in an article at Workforce.com. Too many of us, he says, simply don’t know how to effectively learn, and part of the problem is that too many of our companies cultures don’t encourage it.

“To improve effectiveness in the new work environment and create a healthy learning culture, learning and development must equip employees to engage in learning behaviors and work to make those behaviors habitual.

“Two important shifts are required to do this:

  • Learning and development functions must reallocate some resources and effort away from standard content creation and channel management toward teaching employees how to learn.
  • Employees and leaders must take accountability for development — not just their own, but also that of those around them.”

Training is an investment. Often—probably too often—it’s one of the first things to get put on the back burner when the economy starts to stumble and budgets need to be cut. But that may not be the best decision going forward. Clearly, if companies want to recruit from within, then they need people who are promotable. And if they want to attract and retain the growing Millennial workforce they need some kind of training program in place. But, of course, that requires a plan. What’s yours?

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