Despite Economic Uncertainty, American Employers Are Still Investing in Talent

New U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and SHRM research shows employers across the country are ready to increase investment in employee training and development, but encounter barriers with funding and public-private leadership.

May 26, 2021
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Washington, D.C. – On May 26 at 1 p.m. ET, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation in partnership with SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management), will host a virtual event to release new research exploring the current workplace landscape and examine the challenges that hinder innovation in training and employee development.

Notably, the survey highlights that despite economic uncertainty, employers have an appetite for further talent investment and employer collaborations. The survey centered on four types of training: skill-based training, paid work-based training, tuition assistance, and financial wellness and security benefits.

“Even in a time of significant economic and labor market volatility, employers have maintained their investment in and commitment to their workers—with many eager to increase it,” says Jason A. Tyszko, vice president of the U.S. Chamber Foundation’s Center for Education and Workforce.

Key takeaways from the research include:

  • Most employers will either maintain or increase investment in skills training and talent development. Twenty percent of employers plan to increase their investment in skill-based training in 2021, reflecting a growing awareness of the advantages gained by cross-training, upskilling, and reskilling.
  • Most employers are open to innovation across all types of training investment, but obstacles prevent action. Employers noted the major barriers to innovation are money and staff time, while others need guidance on what works best. Forty percent of employers indicate a lack of time and budget prevents them from adopting innovative changes to their skill-based training offerings.
  • Many employers see government playing some role in providing financing assistance for talent investment. Eighty percent of employers say government grants, loans, or tax incentives would encourage them to further invest or innovate in their skill-based training and development.
  • Employers also see the need for public-private leadership in in this space. Seventy-two percent of HR professionals say both the public and private sectors have a role to play in facilitating employer collaboration in areas such as skill-based training and development, paid work-based learning (e.g., internships, apprenticeships), and talent recruitment.

“The workplace has undergone tremendous change this year, and now more than ever, employers are recognizing how critical it is to ensure their workforce feels valued and empowered,” said SHRM Chief Knowledge Officer Alex Alonso, Ph.D., SHRM-SCP. “SHRM and the Chamber Foundation’s research underscores that while progress has been made, there is still a need for continued investment in talent, innovation, and public-private partnerships. Enterprises can’t do this alone—collaboration between HR and business leaders will be essential in the days and months ahead.”

The Chamber Foundation and SHRM virtual event will delve deeper into the data and its implications on the American workforce and highlight employers that are designing talent financing solutions in their communities. Learn more and register for the event.

To learn more about the Chamber Foundation’s Center for Education and Workforce initiatives, visit uschamberfoundation.org/center-education-and-workforce. To learn more about SHRM, visit shrm.org.

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About the U.S. Chamber Foundation  
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation is dedicated to strengthening America’s long-term competitiveness. We educate the public on the conditions necessary for business and communities to thrive, how business positively impacts communities, and emerging issues and creative solutions that will shape the future.  

About the U.S. Chamber of Commerce 
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world's largest business organization representing companies of all sizes across every sector of the economy. Our members range from the small businesses and local chambers of commerce that line the Main Streets of America to leading industry associations and large corporations. They all share one thing: they count on the U.S. Chamber to be their voice in Washington, across the country, and around the world. For more than 100 years, we have advocated for pro-business policies that help businesses create jobs and grow our economy.

About SHRM
SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, creates better workplaces where employers and employees thrive together. As the voice of all things work, workers and the workplace, SHRM is the foremost expert, convener and thought leader on issues impacting today’s evolving workplaces. With 300,000+ HR and business executive members in 165 countries, SHRM impacts the lives of more than 115 million workers and families globally.


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