Report: Canadian companies must do more to promote job-related tech education


According to data collected by Toronto-based Course Compare, employers need to be doing more to promote job-related education for employees.

Course Compare, an online marketplace for Canadian tech education, surveyed 18 companies with a total of 350 employees — including Wealthsimple, RBC, Uber, and Manulife — to get a sense of how these companies are supporting workers with technology skill sets.

The report found that 64 percent of Canadian business professionals fail to take advantage of funding for continuing education and professional development — even though 70 percent of employers provide financial support for job-related education like conference allowance and tuition for postsecondary programs. In 2017, only 36 percent of employees took advance of this support.

“Our survey suggests that, even where well-funded training programs exist, most employees are too busy or unsure about what to learn to take advantage.”

Reasons given for turning down this education was being too busy with day-to-day responsibilities, corporate learning programs being poorly promoted, and employees being unsure of what to learn or how it will help. Overall, employees surveyed gave employers a ‘C’ grade for education.

As automation threatens some jobs, Course Compare founder Rob Furtado said it’s become more important for companies to invest in new skills.

“In the 1960s, the half-life of knowledge’ — the time it takes for half of someone’s expertise to become obsolete — was about 10 years for an engineer. That number has shrunk to less than three years for a software engineer today,” said Furtado. “To compete in the digital economy, tech companies will need to build continuous learning into their cultures. The best companies won’t view skills development or corporate education programs as a distraction, but a competitive advantage that attracts and helps retain top talent.”

The report includes employee recommendations for improving corporate learning environments. These include:

  • Senior leadership baking continuous education into the company’s culture
  • Help with identifying skills that will be relevant in the future
  • Increasing the diversity of courses offered
  • Better communication on accessing training programs
  • Encouraging employees to take the time to complete courses
  • “Our survey suggests that, even where well-funded training programs exist, most employees are too busy or unsure about what to learn to take advantage of paid education,” said Furtado. “Companies with top marks in corporate learning do a great job aligning strategic objectives with a clearly defined set of skills, then empowering employees to pursue those skills overtime.”

    Jessica Galang

    Jessica Galang

    Freelance tech writer. Former BetaKit News Editor.