2024 industry research study finds talent skill development programs are crucial for most organizations

PHOENIX–(BUSINESS WIRE)–University of Phoenix and Executive Networks are pleased to share the findings of their newest 2024 industry research study, The Upskilling & Reskilling Imperative: Why employee skill development is a business priority. Surveying human resource leaders in North America, research focused on how HR leaders are equipping employees with skills to navigate technological disruption in a challenging business landscape, and highlights five key findings and actionable recommendations for successfully offering upskilling and reskilling programs.

According to a recent World Economic Forum report, 44% of the skills in every job are likely to be disrupted – and companies can expect a structural labor market churn of 23% over the next five years.

“Rapid advances in areas such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing and Blockchain are driving a digital transformation in many companies, amplifying the demand for new and deeper technical and digital skills. It’s also fueling human skills that set people apart from technology, and higher cognitive skills to drive innovation and prepare employees to tackle problems we may never have seen before,” shares Gina Jeneroux, Chief Skills & Innovation Officer, ORG AI and Executive Director, Executive Networks. “Investing in skill development is a business imperative, and HR is uniquely positioned to help organizations and individuals survive and thrive.”

The survey, conducted in February 2024, tapped into insights from 502 HR leaders in the U.S. and Canada in organizations ranging in size from under 1,000 employees to more than 50,000, and explored how they are ensuring their employees have necessary skills in a rapidly evolving business landscape, including digital skills, as well as leadership, problem-solving, critical thinking, and more. The study findings explore the importance of skill development programs, reasons for investment in upskilling and reskilling, perceived barriers to these programs, responsibilities, and methods for delivery.

The research shows that 74 percent of HR leaders say skill development programs are a critical priority and their companies are already offering these opportunities. Most HR leaders, 56 percent, strongly agree that providing upskilling and reskilling opportunities to employees has become more important over the past five years.

“Investing in upskilling and reskilling fosters agility and innovation and empowers teams to thrive amidst change and drive sustainable growth in the digital age,” states Raghu Krishnaiah, chief operating officer at University of Phoenix. “Today’s technology allows delivery of effective and engaging solutions at-scale, providing greater options that could help save time and cost for employers and employees.”

According to the study, providing upskilling and reskilling opportunities is critical for short- and-long-term performance. HR leaders prioritize such programs, with their top reasons identified as enhancing productivity, improving employee engagement and retaining talent.

The study found that leaders’ views vary according to the work arrangements adopted by their company. For example, leadership development is the top skill priority for those in hybrid workplaces (38%) and in fully on-site environments (37%), compared to only 15% of those who are fully remote.

While 58 percent of HR leaders agree employers should have primary responsibility for employee skill development, they do not believe in mandating participation in skill-building programs. This is reflected in the range of channels used to deliver skill-building opportunities: 69 percent through mentorships, 58 percent through peer coaching, 48 percent through self-study, 48 percent through embedding skill development on the job, 44 percent through simulations, and 43 percent through job rotation.

For each of the five key findings, the study provides detailed recommendations for organizational action. Download the complete study findings and recommendations here.

About University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix innovates to help working adults enhance their careers and develop skills in a rapidly changing world. Flexible schedules, relevant courses, interactive learning, skills-mapped curriculum for our bachelor’s and master’s degree programs and a Career Services for Life® commitment help students more effectively pursue career and personal aspirations while balancing their busy lives. For more information, visit phoenix.edu.

About Executive Networks

Executive Networks provides a comprehensive HR team-focused strategic membership program for Global 1000 companies that recognizes the professional and personal needs of the CHRO and their senior team. We help HR teams successfully navigate a dramatically more complex and challenged environment, including accelerated advances in AI. Executive Networks increases the productivity of our members by improving the quality and speed of decisions while reducing the risks associated with poor or incorrect decisions. Because we access leading expertise, thought leaders and resources, we deliver actionable innovations and strategic solutions across the organization’s entire HR team.


Sharla Hooper

University of Phoenix