As most business leaders today know all too well, we have a skills supply-and-demand problem — hurting businesses.There are millions of job openings in the United States, but companies cannot find workers with the right skills, training and credentials to fill them.
The inability to find a talented pool of workers with the right skills for these jobs constrains economic growth and hurts our competitive edge. Businesses must invest in more strategic ways to help their employees get college degrees or other credentials to fulfill the job demands for today and tomorrow.
While both of us today are responsible for the education and talent development of hundreds of thousands of workers around the world, each of us began our careers at the bottom of the ladder — one of us as a busboy and one of us as a part-time truck loader/unloader.Neither of us would have advanced to our current position without our employers’ resources and support, which is why both of us and our companies are so committed to developing programs that offer our employees the education, training and credentials they need to succeed.
For example, at UPS Inc., we’ve developed a host of training and credentialing programs, most recently in collaboration with the U.S. Labor Department, the Veterans Administration and the Registered Apprentice Program. We have a program called UPS Integrad that wasdeveloped to train new drivers. A companion program, UPS Integrad Managing Performance was developed for full-time supervisors who manage drivers. They complete the driving curriculum and additional operations management modules. After the supervisors graduate from the program, they can earn college credit through Thomas Edison College.
Each UPS Integrad location supports learning and advancement for more than 2,700 new UPS drivers annually. The seven existing training centers have trained thousands of front-line employees for well-paying jobs as drivers and supervisors, while increasing their productivity and retention. Since the first UPS Integrad site opened in Landover, Maryland, in 2007, UPS has seen dramatic improvement in safety, production and service indices, as well as workforce retention.
At Hilton, we have partnered with the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning, or CAEL, to offer our team members the opportunity to take GED tests and earn their high school equivalency diploma at no cost. This latest education benefit will serve all U.S.-based active team members who are in good standing and have at least six months of service. Our program is unique because unlike traditional workforce training initiatives that focus on midlevel or senior team members, our GED Assistance initiative is designed to help entry-level team members. It is part of our “Heart of Hilton” and social responsibility movement that builds our brand and attracts both great team members and customers.
Our GED initiative is only the newest component of our commitment to educating a world-class workforce delivering an exceptional customer experience. We have increased the number of training courses consumed by 82 percent and demand for learning services increased 40 percent year over year. What’s more, Hilton Worldwide University team member engagement increased 10 points to 80 percent — quite an increase because Hilton Worldwide University did not exist until four years ago.
At both UPS and Hilton, we are committed to getting more business leaders nationwide to invest in ongoing education, training and career advancement support for their employees. Steering adults to completing credentials or college degrees that get them work-ready will yield a workforce that will enable our companies to thrive and the economy to grow. This is good business and good for America.
In fact, business leaders at top companies across the United States, representing a wide variety of sectors — such as agriculture, health care and retail — are recognizing its value and are calling for a greater focus on working with employees to help them earn credentials. Working together, they are sharing programs and best practices that encourage credential completion and demonstrate how this commitment helps their businesses grow and prosper.
The time is now to create meaningful training and credentialing programs to ensure we have well-trained workers ready to meet the demands of the coming decades. As HR and learning leaders, we hope you will join us by creating programs that help people earn credentials which will ultimately help them lead better and more fulfilling lives. At the same time, credentialing programs are also the key to keeping our country competitive globally, ensuring our nation’s future and protecting the quality of life for us all.
Michael Johnson is chief human resources officer for UPS. Kimo Kippen is chief learning officer for Hilton Worldwide. To comment, email editor@CLOmedia.com.