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Four key actions to address training barriers

While the benefits of training are well-recognised, getting training right isn’t always easy. 

Training can be ineffective and costly, and it can be difficult to find the time to dedicate to learning and development. The accelerating pace of change in the skills required for work demands more frequent exposure to training across the course of an individual’s working life. 

More broadly, the longevity of skills varies substantially by skill type. IBM research suggests that skills have a ‘half-life’ of about five years, with technical skills lasting just two and a half years. Other skills could remain relevant even longer, particularly where skills are transferable and can be used for several applications.

Surveyed employers and employees of a recent RMIT Online and Deloitte Access Economics report agree that employees should refresh their skills at regular intervals. One in four employees (26 per cent) believe they should refresh their skills at least once a year, while one-third of surveyed employers (33 per cent) think this should happen at least every six months.

However, some of the key barriers to learning new skills reported by surveyed employees include work commitments (18 per cent), the cost of training courses (12 per cent) and lack of employer resources or support (9 per cent). 

To help tackle these barriers, here are four key actions employers can take to help get the most out of training. 


Create a dedicated budget for employees to access learning and development opportunities. Subsidised learning is the top-ranked enabler to learning a new skill reported by employees. 

Having a dedicated budget encourages employees actually to take their employers up on learning and development commitments.


Integrate learning and development into day-to-day working life. Employees need time and resources to develop skills that align to business news. 

Work commitments are the top-ranked barrier to learning a new skill reported by employees. By setting time aside for employees to learn on a regular basis (i.e., a couple hours a week or a day a month), employers remove the stigma of undertaking training during office hours. 


Reward employees for learning or developing skills. A pay rise was the second-ranked enabler to learning a new skill reported by employees and indicated to employees that learning and development are valued by leadership.

Employees who received promotions in 2022 spent 50 per cent more time on training on average than surveyed employees who did not receive a promotion.

Skills test 

Include skills testing when hiring externally. While businesses recognise the importance of skills, most rely on traditional approaches to hiring, such as interviews, with two-thirds of businesses not incorporating skills testing as part of their organisation’s hiring practices. 

Skills testing ensures businesses hire people with the skills their business needs. Employers recognise the benefits of upskilling as greater employee engagement and retention (53 per cent), positively influences team culture and performance (46 per cent) and cost-effectiveness (44 per cent). 

These factors give rise to a model of continuous learning, where frequent engagement in training and upskilling is key to keeping pace with evolving workforce needs.

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Julian Stevenson

Julian Stevenson

Julian Stevenson is the Product Director of RMIT Online, where he has successfully led the development of upskilling programs across its Future Skills and degree portfolios. Julian comes from a strong technical background, having delivered award-winning products at organisations such as Envato and Telstra.

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