Specific concerns tied to mass resignations and “quiet quitting” may be fleeting, but the need for strategic recruitment and retention programs will always be a top priority. Organizations must focus on reskilling and upskilling programs to meet the new requirements of the remote workforce era and navigate the complexities of post-COVID-19 pandemic shifts.

This is an especially critical task for highly regulated organizations in industries like public service, health care and finance where finding and retaining employees with an incredibly specific skill set is not just a nicety but an absolute necessity.

Challenges in Health Care

While resignation numbers may be slowing down, the pandemic-driven mass exodus from core industries, like health care, has created dramatic staffing holes that are not easily filled and that have deepened an already palpable skills gap. The World Health Organization’s State of the World’s Nursing Report in 2020 predicted a terrifying global shortfall of 10 million nurses, but the doomsday predictions started well before the pandemic.

In fact, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services predicted the demand for registered nurses would hit more than 3.6 million by 2030 all the way back in 2017. Last year, the American Hospital Association called for the need to hire at least 200,000 nurses and 122,000 physicians annually to strengthen the workforce enough to meet rising demand amid a shrinking talent pool and retirement-ready practitioners.

Regardless of the final number of health care workers and nurses needed to meet changing health care demands, the field has been ravaged by employee burnout as stress levels continue to climb and inadequate training programs aren’t able to support evolving requirements. In a study, Gallup found that the majority of health care workers were interested in upskilling programs that would help them learn new skills or improve their current skill sets, with 55% of health care workers noting they would even quit for a new employer that offered upskilling programs.

Upskilling and Reskilling to Retain Employees

But health care is not the only industry trying to meet the intensifying training needs of their workforce. Other highly regulated industries like government agencies — state, local and federal agencies alike — are continuously trying to keep pace with the training needs of their workers despite a seemingly endless barrage of ever-changing policies, mandates and regulations, as well as retention challenges.

According to Deloitte, not only are government agencies still fighting an age-old battle to retain skilled workers while losing seasoned workers to retirement at an alarming rate, but they’re also facing challenges recruiting Gen Z and Millennial skilled workers, a demographic that increasingly prioritizes continuous learning, skill development and career advancement as critical to their success.

Expenditure for employee training has increased substantially from the start of the pandemic till now to help manage new shifts in policies and regulations, increasing from $83 billion in 2019 to $101.6 billion in 2022. And according to Training Magazine’s 2021 Training Industry Report, spending on learning and development will continue to expand as learning leaders adopt new learning tech and tools to enhance the learner experience.

What more and more organizations are starting to realize is that upskilling and reskilling are primary drivers to increasing employee retention. If you want your workers to stay involved in the organization, learning leaders must give them the opportunity to grow new skills and capabilities. That way they can continuously learn and grow with the company. To future-proof and retain their workforce, learning leaders must create upskilling and reskilling opportunities in their organization.

Effectively Upskilling and Reskilling: LMS and TMS

So what do organizations, especially those in highly regulated industries like health care and government agencies, need to do to run an effective upskilling and reskilling program? Workers need easy, direct access to comprehensive, integrated training. Unfortunately, what sounds simple can be extremely difficult for some organizations to deliver. Many traditional training programs tend to miss the mark when facilitating upskilling and reskilling.

Most training programs aren’t able to integrate multiple types of training (like instructor-led sessions and on-demand courses) into a single learning platform, so employers are often left trying to compose a comprehensive training program from disjointed tools. The end result is generally a lackluster, fragmented training program that not only fails to engage and properly prepare employees, but also fails to meet compliance mandates. An ineffective training and compliance process can leave organizations vulnerable to a wide array of workforce and regulatory issues.

And while industry-specific content vendors provide much-needed learning programs tailored to the needs of the organization’s workforce, they typically lack the immersive modules needed to address core enterprise security, compliance and workflow needs. Their learning management system (LMS) is more of an add-on than the primary solution, and they don’t provide the accessibility that today’s workforce demands.

Organizations need to make sure they are implementing an overall learning platform, not just a set of standalone training classes, to meet the compliance, security and retention demands of today’s work environment. Employers need the ability to manage, present and track everything for all workers in one place. Comprehensive, advanced LMS and training management system (TMS) programs must have these requirements:

  • Be software as a service (SaaS)-based and easily tailored to the organization’s and learners’ specific needs.
  • Deliver a simplified experience in both a user- and instructor-friendly manner.
  • Provide mobile-friendly access and a variety of blended learning approaches (e.g., video, in person, remote, in app, etc.)
  • Ensure training is engaging and flexible to meet each learner’s needs and schedule.
  • Stream line upskilling/reskilling efforts for cross-training initiatives.
  • Offer self-directed learning paths with recommendations based on job position, requirements, skills, competencies and performance.

What L&D Can Do

Critical skills gaps were exposed during the pandemic, and many industries are still reeling from the devastating effects of losing top talent. But whatever challenges may lay ahead, learning leaders must deliver continuous training to help organizations keep pace with changing needs and to engage their people. Upskilling programs can help prepare health care and government employees to serve their communities in the midst of ever-changing demands and regulations. It can empower them to stay with the company and grow in their role.

As learning and development (L&D) leaders, it’s critical to invest the training budget to prepare the workforce for impending changes and future needs. We can no longer rely on a one-size-fits-all approach to L&D. Instead, learning leaders must create personalized learning experiences to meet the demands of today’s workforce and ensure corporate compliance.

With the rise of more flexible, SaaS-based LMS and TMS platforms, organizations can create a customized training program to meet learner needs and ensure the organization’s workforce is fully prepared to meet any new challenge in our world of work.