Companies See Widespread Skills Gaps, But Most Spend Minimally On Training

Corporate Training Programs are Outdated, Limited, Narrow, and Unclear

SAN FRANCISCO — March 26, 2015 — Seventy-one percent of HR decision makers recognize that employees don’t have the skills they need to perform their current jobs, yet more than half of the companies surveyed are spending less than $500 a year per employee on training. Udemy for Business, the corporate training division of Udemy, the global marketplace for learning and teaching online, released a survey today that polled 175 HR decision makers about their employees’ skills, and how they prioritize and manage training in their organizations. The study, conducted by ResearchNow, shows that although HR leaders agree that their employees aren’t equipped with the skills they need to do their current jobs, companies do little to close that gap.

“Politicians, business leaders and HR teams alike acknowledge the growing skills gap in the U.S.,” said Paul Sebastien, vice president and general manager of Udemy for Business. “But the majority of companies aren’t taking essential steps to implement more training and make sure their employees can thrive while their organizations grow. HR departments and C-suites need to work together to make closing the skills gap a priority. Ultimately, the success of their companies depends on it.”

Professionals across multiple industries and markets are asked to take on more roles and accomplish tasks beyond their job descriptions. However, the study found that employee training programs have not kept pace, and that they lack sufficient onboarding or current training for employees. Additional key findings demonstrate many issues with current training programs.

Those findings include:

  • Companies Want Managers, Leaders Respondents consistently ranked “soft skills” (leadership, mentorship) and management as the most important skills for employees in the coming year at 55 and 50 percent, respectively.
  • But Training is Outdated, Limited, Narrow, and Unclear:
    • Outdated – In spite of HR decision makers feeling like employees didn’t have all the right skills they needed to do their jobs, only 15 percent of training programs were established or updated in the past year. Fifty-one percent were built in the last five years, and a third of respondents weren’t sure when training programs were built.
    • Limited –  Sixty-eight percent of companies rely solely on on-the-job training for onboarding.
    • Narrow – Seventy-two percent of respondents admitted they are only providing training that is directly related to employees’ roles.
    • Unclear – Of the companies lacking a formal onboarding process, 67 percent aren’t sure if they will be implementing one next year.
  • Disconnect on cost vs. budgets: Fifty-seven percent say it costs more than $1,000 to train employees for new roles; yet more than 75 percent of those with training budget spend less than $1,000 on training including travel.
  • HR doesn’t have budget: More than a quarter (26 percent) of HR executives say they have no training budget.
  • Insular training: Nearly all of the respondents (93 percent) say they spent less than $1,000 on outside trainers in 2014.

“This survey reminds us that ongoing development of job-related skills, including both soft skills and technical skills, is critical,” said Jennifer Stine, PhD, expert on executive education who has directed professional education offices at both MIT and Harvard. “At the same time companies must find ways to achieve this cost effectively. Companies often default to on-the-job training, which isn’t necessarily going to provide the competitive advantage an organization needs. Finding effective ways to develop employees is key to excelling as an organization.”

Readers interested in viewing the full report, “At the Breaking Point: The State of Corporate Training Programs in America,” can download it here:


Udemy for Business is the next-generation online learning platform that empowers companies to solve the biggest challenge facing their teams today: the skills gap. Built for businesses striving to stay at the forefront of innovation, Udemy for Business is specifically designed to offer relevant, on-demand skills training anytime, anywhere. The Udemy for Business solution curates cutting-edge, high-quality courses on critical topics from development and design to sales, marketing, productivity, and leadership taught by the world’s leading experts. In addition to its extensive course library, Udemy for Business also provides teams with easy-to-use tools to securely create and distribute their own proprietary content. Global brands like Optimizely, Lyft, Oracle, 1-800-Flowers, Pepsi, and Pitney Bowes rely on Udemy for Business to train their workforce and excel in the skills-driven economy.