How upskilling your staff can future-proof your business


Despite employers placing skills and talent shortages in their top three most urgent concerns, only half of employees feel skills development is a priority to their managers, Conerstone research finds

The report, Thriving in the Global Skills Shortage: Your Path Through the Wilderness, found that nearly half of employers surveyed placed skills and talent shortages within their top three most urgent concerns in the next three years and identified a strong positive correlation between overall business performance and the quality of new skilling support and development opportunities offered to employees.

The two-part global research survey measured the views of 1,800 employees and more than 800 business leaders across North America, EMEA and Asia Pacific.

Similar to the questions asked in the 2020 study, the latest survey compared how each group perceived their organizations’ continued investment in skills initiatives, their ability to influence talent and business outcomes, and how well they responded to the pandemic.

A significant finding from the 2020 study uncovered a 30-percentage-point Skills Confidence Gap between employers who believed that they were delivering skills to employees and employees’ confidence in their employer’s ability to develop their skills.

According to the 2022 survey data, this gap actually widened for average and low performing organizations.

While employer confidence in their ability to understand and deliver on their needs rose in the recent report, employee confidence actually decreased by five points with just 55% of employees saying that their organization’s skills development was a priority.

“The latest research by the Cornerstone People Research Lab demonstrates how organizations and their people continue to see skills development as an increasingly important part of navigating their shared future successfully,” says Cornerstone Chief Executive Himanshu Palsule.

“Unfortunately, there continues to be a growing gap between how organizations view their ability to deliver on skills development and how employees are experiencing it.”

In many cases, the pandemic exacerbated or accelerated issues that already limited organizational ability to adapt and change.

Long-term talent shortages and new challenges, like the rapid pace of digital transformation, are asserting themselves and threatening many organizations’ ability to execute, grow and innovate.

Key findings include:

Employers and employees aren’t fully aligned on current skills focus

There continues to be a significant Skills Confidence Gap between employers and employees when it comes to confidence in their organization’s current ability to help them develop new skills. This gap not only persisted from 2020, but – on average – grew wider.

Employees are not confident their companies are prioritizing skills in the future

The research revealed that only 55% of employees are confident in their organization’s future prioritization of new skilling opportunities for them.

The Skills Confidence Gap narrowed or widened depending on organizational strength

High-performing organizations (HPOs) had a much smaller gap between employees and employers. HPOs not only prioritized skill development at a much higher level than their peers, but their employees also agreed with them — with only an 11% gap between employer and employee perception.

Meanwhile, Laggards (lowperforming organizations) not only rated their prioritization of skill development much lower, but less than 20% of employees in those organizations also agreed that skills development is an important objective — a 42% gap.

High Performing Organizations Provide a Guidepost

The report showed that leading organizations are blazing the trail. Seventy-two percent of HPOs globally reported that they had already begun to prioritize their skills development investments within the next year.

Given the trendline of HPOs outperforming their peers in organizational outcomes and employee confidence in new skilling initiatives, this increased focus provides a guidepost for other organizations globally .

The Path Forward

To reduce the employee-employer Skills Confidence Gap and address uncertainty, the 2022 report, Thriving in the Global Skills Shortage: Your Path Through the Wilderness, outlines practical steps organizations can take to build high impact future skills, including how to:

  • Predict future skills your organization will need and identify potential skills gaps among your people
  • Integrate intelligent skills technology into other career development tools that your organization is already using or should be using
  • Foster a learning culture that prioritizes skill-building and empowers people to grow
  • Strategize and deliver more relevant, modern and personalized learning content to your people
  • Adopt an internal-first hiring mindset to encourage skills development and career growth

“To prepare their workforce for the future, organizations increasingly need to take a skillsforward approach to learning and talent — identifying what skill gaps exist, which skills will be needed in the future and a relevant, engaging path that enables their people to more effectively build those skills,” says Cornerstone Chief Product Officer Ajay Awatramani.


For more information on the 2022 report findings and to view the full version of the report, visit