Calibrating your workforce: Four key actions to address training barriers

Calibrating your workforce: key actions to address training barriers

While the benefits of training are well-recognised, getting training right isn’t always easy.  Training can be ineffective, costly and it can be difficult to find the time to dedicate to learning and development. The accelerating pace of change in the skills required for work demands more frequent exposure to training across the course of an individuals’ working life.

More broadly, the longevity of skills varies substantially by skill type. Recently released IBM research suggests that skills have a ‘half life’ of about 5 years, with technical skills lasting just two and a half years. However, other skills could remain relevant for even longer, particularly where skills are transferable and can be used for several different applications.

How can employers eliminate training barriers?

Surveyed employers and employees of a recent RMIT Online and Deloitte Access Economics report agree that employees should refresh their skills at regular intervals. One in four employees (26%) believe they should refresh their skills at least once a year, while one-third of surveyed employers (33%) think this should happen at least every six months.

However, some of the key barriers to learning new skills reported by surveyed employees include the following; work commitments (18%), the cost of training courses (12%) and lack of employer resources or support (9%). To help effectively tackle these skills barriers, here are four key actions employers can take to help get the most out of training.


Create a budget for employees to access learning and development opportunities. Subsidised learning is the top ranked enabler to learning a new skill reported by employees. Having a budget encourages employees to actually take their employers up on the commitments.


Calibrating your workforce: key actions to address training barriers

Integrate learning and development into day-to-day working life for your employees. It takes time and resources for employees to develop skills that align to business news. Work commitments are the top ranked barrier to learning a new skill reported by employees. By setting time aside for employees to learn on a regular basis (i.e., a couple hours a week or a day a month), employers remove the stigma of undertaking training during office hours.


Reward employees for learning or developing skills. A pay rise was the second ranked enabler to learning a new skill reported by employees and indicates to employees that learning and development is valued by leadership. Employees who received promotions in 2022 spent 50% more time on training on average than those who did not receive a promotion.

Skills test

Include skills testing when hiring externally. While businesses recognise the importance of skills, most rely on traditional approaches to hiring such as interviews, with two thirds of businesses not incorporating skills testing as part of their organisation’s hiring practices.

Skills testing ensures businesses hire people with the skills their business needs. Employers recognise the benefits of upskilling as greater employee engagement and retention (53%), positively influences team culture and performance (46%) and cost effectiveness (44%).

The above listed factors give rise to a model of continuous learning, where frequent engagement in training and upskilling is key to keeping pace with evolving workforce needs.

Julian Stevenson is the Director of Product and Workforce Development at RMIT Online.

Julian Stevenson, Director of Product and Workforce Development at RMIT Online