News story

Businesses battle to upskill workers in global skills race

Learning NewsKineo

Organisations all around the world are increasingly aware that if they want to remain competitive, they need to invest in upskilling their people.


27th November 2019: New research published today by City & Guilds Group, the leading global skills development body, reveals that employers across the world are racing to upskill their workforces. However, with digitalisation and fluctuating economies transforming the skills needed in the workplace today, employees are less confident than their bosses that they’ll have skills they need for the future.

  • Emerging economies are investing most heavily in skills, with 92% of Indian employers forecasting a rise in L&D investment compared to just over half in Sweden and the UK

  • 71% of employees worldwide recognise that the skills needed to do their job are changing, but only two thirds of them think their employer is keeping pace

Read the full report here

The study, conducted by City & Guilds Group business Kineo, surveyed 6500 employees and 1300 employers across 13 international markets. It found that employers in more developed economies risk falling behind in the race to upskill as emerging economies are more likely to ramp up investment in learning and development (L&D) in the near future.

A significant 92% of Indian employers and 78% of Kenyan employers predicted a net increase in L&D investment in the next 12 months, compared to just 64% of US employers and 67% of Australian employers. The UK (54%) and Sweden (52%) came in last, with just over half of employers in these markets anticipating an increase in L&D investment.

As technological advances continue to transform the way we live and work, employers in developing economies are feeling the impact most acutely. While just 25% of employers in the US recognise the impact of digital transformation on their business, significantly more Kenyan (65%) and Indian (62%) employers consider this an important factor driving change. Equally, when it comes to automation and AI, the majority of employers surveyed in Malaysia (60%) and India (58%) found this to be a major driver of change, compared to just 27% of employers in the UK.

John Yates, Group Director – Corporate Learning comments:

“Businesses worldwide are navigating a period of immense transformation – and this is particularly evident in emerging economies where organisations are embracing technology. But as the workforce becomes increasingly connected, there needs to be greater synergy in the way employers are tackling new and existing challenges. Better alignment will not only make it easier for businesses to collaborate across borders, but for individuals globally to feel confident they’re skilled for the future.”

“Employers across the world need to listen their workers’ training needs and ensure they continue to focus on upskilling – or they risk losing employees to other markets who are making this a priority. Equipping workforces with the skills to succeed in the future is a marathon, not a sprint, but those who overlook the importance of skills investment risk dropping out of the race altogether.”

The research also showed that while 71% of employees across the world recognise that the skills they need to do their job will change in the next 3-5 years, only 67% of them say their employers are keeping pace with changing skills. This confidence drops to just 56% for workers in New Zealand and 58% in Sweden.

However, 81% of employers globally say they’re confident their staff have the skills their business needs for the next 3-5 years. This highlights a worrying perception gap, that – unless addressed – could lead to lower retention rates and compromised service levels and opportunities as employees seek out organisations who can better meet their training needs.

Paul Grainger, Co-Director of the Centre for Post-14 Education and Work, and Head of Enterprise and Innovation for the Department of Education, Practice and Society (EPS) at the UCL Institute for Education comments:

“With businesses around the world facing different changes and challenges according to the specific economic, cultural, political, demographic and technological factors of their location they will have to react and develop the skills of their workforce in a way that is specific to their context.

“The foreseeable future is likely to be dominated by emerging digital technologies. These can help individuals and communities to grow, become more agile, develop skills and network with a wider, global community. As these technologies are able to transcend borders, they help organisations and the communities in which they are based to adapt to the evolving needs of the community and the world at large. They support agility. And as workplace change is increasingly rapid, it is likely that those regions actively engaged in emerging markets will be better placed to manage the tensions between flexibility and predictability.”

Dermalogica: An organisation doing it right

Candice Gardner, Education Manager Digital & Content at Dermalogica, said: “Effective learning is central to our business. Our culture is highly innovative and dynamic; when we are delivering new products, services and tools at pace in a competitive market, we rely on our people being trained to use, communicate and promote them well. We have employees in more than 80 countries around the world, so it’s important that our training can be easily adapted to reflect their needs.

“In order to deliver valuable training, we need to understand the context in which our staff operate, from specific regulations they are governed by, to the unique social and business culture of each market. Ultimately, whilst we aim for our core content to be globally applicable, we have to consider each market’s nuances and priorities in order to be relevant – skillsets, demands and trends can vary, and then we have to consider logistics and geography. For example, India doesn’t have formalised training for skin therapists, so we tend to put a lot of emphasis on the practical skills. In the USA, geography is vast and thus getting into a local office or training centre is not always feasible, so digital learning is key. In Russia - where they operate across 11 time zones - learning innovation is essential.

“Importantly, we always try to manage employee expectations by being very clear on the aims, objectives and desired outcomes of a session. Language, cultural norms and background can all affect how people interpret content, so we endeavour to test our approach in advance to ensure it meets the needs of learners in different markets. We’ve certainly learned that setting the right expectations more often than not means you achieve the right outcome.”

An employee at Dermalogica said: “The training at Dermalogica has played a big role in my development and motivated me to stay not only with the company but in the industry; I’ve been with the brand for 11 years and never once have I felt like I haven’t had opportunities to learn more.

“What makes it most engaging is the external insights that the trainers provide. In everything we do, we are helped to understand how it works in context and how it applies to the situation we find ourselves in. The learning becomes addictive – like an obsession because it is so relevant.”


About the City & Guilds Group

The City & Guilds Group is a world leader in skills development, with 140 years’ unrivalled experience. Working in over 100 countries around the world, our purpose is to enable people, organisations and economies to develop their skills for growth.

In our 140th year, we are reinforcing the importance of lifelong learning, with a series of dedicated events and activities.

City & Guilds Group’s brands support people into a job; on the job and into the next job; helping individuals, businesses and economies to thrive.

City & Guilds, ILM and Digitalme develop qualifications, apprenticeships and assessments from entry level through to management. They also accredit skills training and help individuals to showcase their skills through digital credentialing using open badges.

Kineo and The Oxford Group support all aspects of workplace learning, from large-scale training programmes, workforce management and e-learning through to bespoke management training and executive coaching.

Gen2 is a technical training provider delivering skills training in engineering and technology for the UK civil nuclear industry.

For more information about the City & Guilds Group visit:

Twitter: @CityGuildsGroup @Cityandguilds @ILM_UK @MDcityandguilds


About Dermalogica

Hello. we’re Dermalogica.

We are a professional-grade skin care brand founded by skin therapist, Jane Wurwand, so we know how to create custom skin care solutions that work — not just today, but for life. We don’t follow fleeting trends or buy into gimmicks; we work directly with skin therapists across the globe to create products and services that get real results. Our passion borders on obsession, and our mission has always been the same: create innovative products that actively improve skin health.

We revolutionised the skin care industry when we launched in 1986 with our ground-breaking formulations that excluded common irritants such as SD alcohol, lanolin, mineral oil and artificial colours and fragrances.

Today we train over 100,000+ skin therapists a year in 90 countries, and Dermalogica is the number one brand used by professional skin therapists worldwide.

For more information visit or Instagram @dermalogicauk

PR contact, Rebecca Hodge:

[email protected]