What is “job readiness” and why it is critical for achieving your business outcomes?

Learn how to minimize business risks and costs by closing job readiness gaps, balancing short- and long-term development and three tips for job readiness training for adults.

Last year, companies spent $329B on training globally. Yet, 90% of organizations say their learning doesn’t deliver skill proficiency and 70% of employees say they lack the skills they need to do their jobs. That disconnect could be costing you millions in lost productivity and wasted training.

It’s time to bridge the gap between the learning that you’re offering your team or customers and the skills they’re bringing to work every day. The answer is called job readiness.

In this article we’ll discuss what it is, why addressing readiness gaps is important and quick tips you can use to better align skill development to business outcomes.

What do tech pros want the most from training?

Job-relevant training. This comes from a recent survey where IT professionals were asked what they wanted most out of their training.

What is job readiness?

Job readiness can mean many things to many people, which is why it’s important that we align on its definition and separate it from career and work readiness. Based on our 20+ years of helping organizations develop and validate skills through hands-on learning experiences, we define job readiness as: a person, team or department with the validated knowledge, skills and abilities to correctly perform tasks required in their roles and within their unique operating environments to meet the needs of the both individual and organization.

Of course, this definition may vary based on your organization or department. So, we asked our customers and our own technology professionals and HR leaders for their take:

“Being job ready at Majesco means productivity. It looks like a person being deployed to an assignment, contributing and taking the workload off our SMEs, even if it’s only one thing. The goal is to do this as quickly as possible for our customers. We want to provide our robust technology and expert talent to help customers deliver excellence across their business.”

“Job readiness means two things. First, that I have the education and tools to be effective in my role. And second, that I’m empowered to help my company evolve.”

“From an HR perspective, job readiness equals the hard and soft costs of completing necessary work. Replacing an unproductive employee averages 60-65% of their annual salary.”

“Job readiness is all about effort. How much effort you put into applying the skills you learned will determine your success.”

Why is job readiness important?

In a word, it’s productivity. It may sound obvious—of course every company wants people who are able to do their jobs and do them well. But this is easier said than done. Especially because roles are evolving quickly due to generative AI, market changes, competition, innovation and other external pressures. If your team or customers are not job-ready, they won’t be as productive and that can hinder your growth and strategy today and your transformation tomorrow. It also means significant financial losses for your organization.

Let’s look at some of those direct and indirect costs in more detail.

Direct costs of unproductive workers.

The median salary for a US-based IT worker, for example, is $100,500 per year. If they’re unproductive for even 10% of their workday due to the lack of job-ready skills, that’s $10,050 of wasted annual resources. Then, multiply that figure times the number of people you have on your IT team. It’s a sobering statistic.

Indirect costs of unproductive workers.

While they’re not as easy to track as direct costs, the indirect costs of lost productivity can be even more staggering:

Lowered morale and productivity.

 

When a worker isn’t pulling their weight, department-level work slows and teammates become frustrated, disengaged or overworked since they’re having to pick up the slack.

Distracted management.

 

Employees without validated, job-ready skills need more help and direction from their managers, which diverts their leaders’ time from more critical activities.

Higher turnover and associated costs.

Low-performing workers will be let go or quit because they’re disengaged and their frustrated, high-performing teammates will leave as well.

Unnecessary business risks.

Skimping on job readiness skills training leads to job readiness gaps that open your organization up to unnecessary business risks/costs, including:

  • Product or tech misconfigurations – which lead to security vulnerabilities.
  • Slowed technology or product adoption – due to limited onboarding.
  • Higher support costs for both users and support teams.
  • Failed technology investment due to a lack of stakeholder support/knowledge.

Tracking job readiness focuses on immediate wins.

One of the reasons why some learning fails to deliver immediate results is because it’s focused on long-term career readiness goals versus short-term job readiness skills. Seventy percent of employees feel that they don’t have mastery of the skills they need to do their jobs. Consequently, that’s causing many to feel less engaged with their company’s L&D opportunities — only 12% of employees apply skills learned in L&D programs to their jobs and 75% of managers are dissatisfied with their organization’s L&D function.

Translated into real-world terms, this lack of skills mastery and relevant application can have job altering, business-disrupting consequences. Take, for example, cybersecurity skills. Ensuring that your workforce has a baseline level of cybersecurity knowledge will reduce the likelihood of human error or social engineering from causing a data breach. Without application, however, someone’s cybersecurity acumen might not match up to their responsibilities in protecting and managing data. Given that almost 9-in-10 data breaches are caused by human error, clearly, there’s room for improvement in current cybersecurity training and job readiness.

“We wouldn’t have been able to measure … skill level without an assessment technique. It gives us a good validation that they’re job ready.”

Erik Wallace, Director of Sales and Business Development

Comtech success story

What’s measured is managed.

This makes understanding how job readiness appears in the workplace and how to track it through the right key performance indicators (KPIs) vital.

Example job-readiness KPIs:

Balancing short and long-term readiness.

Job readiness and career readiness are like two sides of the same coin, giving your people the currency they need to succeed in their roles now and their future careers. You cannot focus solely on short-term job readiness, as people will worry about their long-term future (especially with AI and automation in the picture). Yet, as we just discussed, solely having career readiness on your agenda will mean a lot of L&D investment won’t pay off for years. A mix of both will give you the best returns, balancing short-term wins such as increased productivity and faster onboarding and technology adoption, with longer-term workforce agility and future proofing.

Paul Gregory, who has held numerous roles, including, an Instructor, solutions engineer and now a solutions architect, explains: “Career readiness has a much longer-term objective. It is understanding where I want my job path to go and what I need to do to get there. Whereas with job readiness, it has a much shorter-term vision. It is all about identifying and mastering the skills I need to do my job today.”

Lori Cummings, Skillable’s SVP of People Success, agrees: “Career readiness is great for supporting an employee’s long-term job satisfaction, but it won’t necessarily build the skills they need to execute in their current role.”

The mix of job versus career readiness in your organization will be uniquely influenced by your business goals.

Differences between job readiness and. career readiness.

  • Job readiness — short-term, tactical, role-specific skills, meet the immediate business need.

  • Career readiness — long-term, strategic, career-oriented goals, general skills.

Immediate actions to start impacting job readiness.

By now you should see why job readiness is so crucial for your business and L&D success. To start getting job ready, there are some immediate actions you can take to start measuring job readiness (establishing a baseline) and working to improve it.

Here are a few tips from Skillable experts on accelerating your success.

1. Have the right structure for learning.

“Structure learning to build on itself. If you jump around to focus on immediate needs or train after the fact, it’s very time-consuming and creates more learning gaps.” – Joel Nix, Director, Solution Engineering

Base your learning strategy on the skills your business needs now, in a year’s time and in the medium-term.

Focus on a handful at a time to avoid overwhelming, and ensure learners are consistently challenged and building their skill mastery by “levelling” up every time they’ve reached a pre-defined skill level.

Validate someone’s skill level through challenges and other assessments to understand how their skill mastery is growing over time and to ensure they are being given the right learning opportunities, at the right level.

2. Engage and reward your learners.

Offer the carrot, not the stick. You’ll find people will be more engaged and motivated to take part in learning and, crucially, to apply new skills to the job. Especially if their newly learned skills have clear real-world benefits like less manual, time-intensive work due to a new automation tool, or career growth through promotion or lateral moves.

“Find out what motivates each individual’s performance—comp and benefits, social inclusion, accomplishment—then reward them in these areas.” – Lori Cummings, SVP, People Success

“When there’s flexibility, partner on what training people can take. It should be fun for them, not just homework, and will improve their engagement and performance.” – Reg Monsanto, Manager, Systems Support

3. Foster a job-ready learning culture.

When you work in a culture where everyone is improving their skills and learning opportunities are highly relevant and accessible, it becomes impossible not to learn. Peer sharing can be a valuable tool in building a strong learning culture, since it celebrates people for their skill-building and invokes FOMO (fear of missing out) in those who haven’t been as active. It also provides opportunities for someone to teach others and deepen their skills further. Showcase people’s job readiness by asking them to lead a “lunch and learn” session or similar.

Never underestimate the importance of widespread stakeholder buy-in for your learning strategy. When you are tracking success metrics like productivity gains, onboarding efficiency and technology adoption, make sure you share the wins in company and team meetings, so everyone recognizes how learning is helping the organization and individuals improve job readiness.

“Empower your team to create learning documentation and share new insights with peers. They’ll learn skills faster and build confidence from the community support.” – Sharon Finzel, Manager, Support Operations

Now that you know what job readiness is, learn about the Job Readiness Gap.

Or get started with a demo.

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