The Amplified Need for Upskilling & Reskilling Amidst Recession
August 4, 2022

Signs are suggesting we are amidst a recession. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. Recessions tend to come at a regular cadence and can help to curb inflation. But they also bring plenty of challenges for employers, particularly changes in needed skills.

Economic downturns mean that employers need to increase efficiency and productivity. Many companies are doing the same or more work with fewer resources. A company’s success is 100% dependent upon the skills of its workers. When in a recession, it is vital that employers prioritize upskilling and reskilling workers to make them more resilient to uncertain economic conditions.

To prepare past, current, and future graduates for these evolving expectations, universities are in a unique position to provide the necessary upskilling required by the workforce.

1. Recessions increase the need for more skilled workers

It took years for employment to return to pre-recession levels during the last Great Recession. One reason is that more skilled workers were plentiful, so companies increased their skills requirements for employment. In turn, this made it harder for the job market to recover.

HBR data shows that the number of jobs requiring a Bachelor's degree rose 10% during the last recession, then declined as the labor market recovered. Also, the number of jobs requiring at least five years of experience rose 7% during this same time, then declined [1]. Both of these points support the idea that as the economy tightens, organizations place more emphasis on hiring, retaining, and investing in skilled workers vs non-skilled workers.

Even without the data, this trend makes sense. Organizations often tighten their budgets, reduce their spending, and even lay off some of their workforces for the overall health of the business. With more work spread between fewer people, certain skills become more in demand. This includes hard skills, such as those directly tied to job functions, as well as soft skills, such as attendance, timeliness, critical thinking, and teamwork.

2. Upskilling is going online

Heading into a recession is the single best time to invest in upskilling and reskilling. As proof, HBR reminds us that in 2009, employers reported an increase in job vacancies, but the unemployment rate barely moved [1].

Upskilling is heading to online channels, both in the skills themselves and how they’re acquired. Companies are increasingly dependent on digital skills, including coding, web development, marketing, sales, and even customer support using digital tools. It’s a preparatory measure that ensures the workforce is ready and able to navigate new challenges that come with a tighter economy. And with the recent shift to working from home, organizations also need to think about how they can prepare their employees to learn and work from anywhere.

Universities are in a unique position. They have the academic expertise and a need to generate revenue – quickly. As Michael Hansen, CEO at Cengage comments, “Our current labor shortage is in part due to a need to skill more workers in in-demand industries, but also because of archaic hiring practices, broad degree requirements and a need for more support for alternative career pathways, like apprenticeships…” [2]. Companies need to upskill their employees and universities can help.

3. Universities must select programs and partners that can help

With learning and development being the number one priority for 40% of HRs, organizations need a simple, cost-effective way to connect employees with opportunities [3].

Working with trusted SaaS partners will be key in upskilling and reskilling workers online. SaaS partners and providers are already rooted in the digital ecosystem and are set up to deliver great online experiences to drive success.

Amesite delivers with technology that supports all kinds of learning. We bring expertise, technology, partnership, and results to nonprofits and L&D teams to ensure a seamless, successful upskilling experience. Read our latest case study to see how we helped WSU engineering graduates achieve in-demand skills to stay competitive in their fields.




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