Foundation Report: Closing the Skills Gap
New research shows associations play a major role in workforce development.
Early results from a recently concluded ASAE Research Foundation study underscore the pivotal role of associations in supporting workforce development in the industries and professions those organizations serve. The research, conducted in collaboration with the independent opinion research institute NORC at the University of Chicago, also suggests opportunities associations may have to strengthen their contributions.
Associations that participated in the research made it clear that concern about finding, developing, and retaining skilled workforces in their industries and professions runs high. Sixty-four percent of associations expressed high levels of concern about their ability to find skilled workers, and 61 percent had similar concerns about retention.
A primary focus of the research was to understand how association-provided workforce development is used, perceived, and valued. More than 53 percent of participating managers reported recommending that their staff be members of one or more associations. An additional 13 percent said they require staff to be members of an association. Nonmanager use of association-provided development is relatively high: The most-used association resources were self-directed learning (73 percent of nonmanager employees), access to industry standards (68 percent), and webinars (66 percent). Two-thirds of association members reported having used those services in the past year.
Meanwhile, 36 percent of managers rate associations as highly qualified to offer such services, and 39 percent see associations as moderately qualified to offer them.
The research also explored how association offerings are shifting with changes in the workforce and trends shaping the future of workforce development. The study sought the perspectives of association professionals, managers, and employees from across the United States. Complete findings are anticipated by summer 2020.
Keith Skillman, CAE, is senior research and content advisor for the ASAE Research Foundation.