In the post-COVID world, organizations of every shape and size are struggling to find the talent they need and anticipating the need to widen significantly over the next 10-15 years. One solution that’s getting a lot of attention is workforce development.
By incorporating workforce development programs into your company’s business strategy, you can thrive even during a labor shortage. In fact, workforce development may well be the future of staffing throughout the finance industry.
What Is Workforce Development?
Workforce development is the process of helping employees improve themselves and reach their full potential. That may mean upskilling existing staff or training job candidates for a new role. Either way, workforce development is a people-first approach that lets companies and employees grow and thrive together.
Some companies offer workforce development programs of their own. Others outsource the process to third-party providers who specialize in training and educating employees. This allows the company to reap the rewards of a fully developed workforce without investing its own resources.
The Benefits of Workforce Development
Workforce development is built on the philosophy that employees are more than just interchangeable cogs in a machine. Instead, every employee has unique skills and perspectives—and the potential to further their knowledge and skills.
When a company overlooks that potential, it’s holding itself back. No company is stronger than its people. But when employees have the opportunity to hone their skills, they can contribute more to the growth of the whole organization.
In short, by developing your workforce, you’re helping your organization. But equally important, your are helping your employees as well. As they advance their own careers through further education and an improved skill set, everyone wins.
Of course, benefits aside, workforce development is also becoming a necessity for many organizations. In the current labor market, finding the right talent can be a chore (when it’s possible at all). According to a study from McKinsey & Company, 40% of American businesses are having trouble finding employees with in-demand skills—even for entry-level positions. Another 20% of employers stated that the candidates they hire are generally underprepared for their jobs. In the finance industry, that skills gap is even more pronounced.
That’s where workforce development comes in.
Workforce development allows finance companies to hire promising job candidates who might normally slip through the cracks due to a lack of experience or a nontraditional education. Then, they can develop those new hires into the highly skilled professionals the company needs.
In fact, many companies may not need to invest in costly hiring initiatives at all. Chances are, you already have the talent you need on hand—you just haven’t considered the range of what your employees could be doing. Through workforce development, you can expand their responsibilities and provide them opportunity for new roles. This will inevitably lead to stronger relationships between employers and employees as workers grow in unison with their teams.
When done right, a workforce development program will:
Raise company morale
Improve turnover rates
Reduce hiring expenses
With the finance industry struggling in anticipation of a labor shortage and skills gap in the coming decade, workforce development is the solution so many companies need.
Examples of Workforce Development
Workforce development can come in several forms—and usually works best as a combination of several. Let’s look at a few of the most common options.
1. Skills-based training
One of the best ways to find the right person for any job is to train them for it yourself (or at least provide training for them through a third-party platform). As mentioned above, this will benefit both employer and employee. The employee receives training that will put them on the path to long-term success, and the employer gets a highly skilled worker.
Best of all, the rise of technology has made it easier than ever for companies to provide employees with reliable training. Every year, more companies are embracing this model by offering apprenticeship programs for incoming staff.
For example, since 2016, Accenture has onboarded hundreds of new employees through its apprenticeship program. Looking ahead, the tech giant hopes to fill at least 20% of its entry-level roles through this program.
2. Continuing education programs
Another popular option for workforce development is to help employees continue their education. This may mean:
This allows companies to acquire talented workers without having to compete for the most educated candidates. This approach doesn’t mean settling for a subpar workforce, either. Just ask former IBM CEO Ginni Rometty.
At IBM, job listings requiring four-year college degrees have dropped from 95% in 2011 to less than half by 2021. In an interview with Fortune, Rometty said that these employees performed just as well as the Ph.D. holders the company used to prioritize. “They were more loyal, higher retention, and many went on to get college degrees,” Rometty said.
By investing in continuing education programs, companies can take advantage of a largely untapped talent pool and get the most out of their finance teams.
3. Professional organizations
Professional organizations can also help financial companies develop their workforce. Many companies facilitate this by:
Encouraging employees to join relevant professional organizations
Sending staff to conferences, seminars, and workshops
Sponsoring or hosting events put on by professional organizations
Inspiring employees to stay active in their professional communities
This can create priceless opportunities for your team to hone their skills and make valuable connections with their peers.
Position Your Company for Tomorrow’s Market
Workforce development is more than just an innovative method for upskilling employees. It’s an entirely new approach to hiring and retaining staff. Through workforce development, you can overcome the challenges of a changing financial industry and empower your employees to reach their full potential.
It’s efficient, it’s effective, and it’s the future of finance.