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October 9, 2020

Study: business leaders continue to prioritize investments in workforce education and talent development despite pandemic

Research sheds light on business decision makers’ outlook on learning & development, strategic goals
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LOS ANGELES, CA — October 9, 2020 — Despite the negative economic impacts of the pandemic, a majority of business leaders across industries continue to prioritize investments in workforce education and talent development, a new study from InStride, the leading provider of strategic enterprise education™, has found. In addition to building a long-term competitive advantage, 96% of business leaders agree that investing in the ongoing education of employees can drive business growth, especially if workforce education programs align with the organization’s strategic goals.

“During times of economic uncertainty, it’s common for people to look for ways to broaden their knowledge and gain new skills,” said InStride CEO Vivek Sharma. “We’re seeing that happen now with the sudden shocks to the economy we’ve experienced this year and the accelerated comfort people have with distance learning. There’s never a wrong time for people to invest in themselves and their careers, but we’re definitely seeing stronger interest from forward-thinking employers who understand the long-term strategic value in developing their workforces.”

While workforce education remains a strategic priority, mitigating the rising skills gaps is also a priority among the majority of leaders (68%). In fact, a majority of decision makers noted that skills gaps have widened in their organizations since the COVID-19 pandemic began, driving an increased focus on upskilling and reskilling talent. Leaders cite investing in new technology and talent development as the top two business priorities in the current economic environment.

Other important findings from the InStride study include:

  • Education programs will continue to be offered in the 2020-2021 academic year. 88% of all respondents said their company offered an education program prior to COVID-19 with the majority (80%) noting that they’ll likely offer a program for this academic year.
  • Business leaders (80%) say their organization will likely offer a program that pays for employees or family members to earn a degree. Respondents agree that providing employees access to college degree opportunities (82%) and high school diplomas (65%) is a critical part of their organizations’ business strategy. 
  • Workforce education helps meet diversity and inclusion goals. 92% of business leaders agree that a strategic workforce education program should help an organization meaningfully achieve its D&I goals. The majority (76%) of respondents note that providing employees access to English-language opportunities is a critical part of their business strategy.
  • When investing in employee education, organizations look for customizable programs with a diverse set of offerings. 65% say their organization would be interested in a combination of baseline credential and degrees+ skills training programs, and 64% are interested in a certificates and credentials-focused program.

Through the InStride network, nearly 26,000 people have enrolled in career-boosting and life-changing higher education since 2019. The strategic investments InStride’s corporate partners have made into their employees have collectively saved more than $164 million in student debt, based on the average cost of a four-year college degree. For every $1 they put into their employees’ futures through InStride’s network of quality academic partners, these companies have doubled their investment in terms of higher productivity, lower recruiting costs, longer retention and stronger brand perception.

For more information and to gain access to the research report, click here.



InStride commissioned a survey of 501 U.S. business decision-makers, director-level and above, who work at companies that generated at least $250 million in annual revenue in 2019. The survey was fielded using the Qualtrics Insight Platform, and the panel was sourced from Fulcrum by Lucid. Fielding was executed in August 2020.

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