This week, College for America released the results of a national web survey of 400 employers conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. The research shows a decided preference among employers to develop current employees for management roles rather than hiring from outside the company, but that employers struggle to find employees with the skills they value for higher positions.

Read the College for America press release below:

New Survey: Employers prefer promotion to hiring, but skills gap is a major hurdle


MANCHESTER, NH –  A new survey of 400 employers by the nonprofit College for America reveals a strong preference for developing existing employees into management roles rather than hiring new employees – but the lack of promotable skills is a major hurdle. The research was performed by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research from Dec 6 – 16, 2013.

“This survey reveals that American employers are almost universally in agreement about the importance of building talent and leadership within their organization—and they overwhelmingly see internal employee development as a better tactic than hiring from outside the company,” said Kristine Clerkin, Executive Director of College for America. “That being said, nearly nine out of ten employers report a gap where their current employees are missing key promotable skills.”

The survey, which queried senior human resources and general management leadership in companies with 500 or more employees across the country, sheds light on their biggest talent development challenges, how they prioritize candidates for internal development, their current tuition reimbursement policies, and more:

  • 71% of respondents say their organization’s strategy prioritizes the development of existing employees into manager jobs rather than hiring new employees into those roles. This focus is amplified at lower levels in the organization (see the executive brief for details).
  • Top employee development challenges include the need to build talent and leadership (94%); employees missing skills for promotion (87%); and difficulty finding well-qualified applications (85%). Commonly voiced issues of employee engagement, retention, and succession planning appeared to be less widespread priorities.
  • 76% of employers currently offer a tuition reimbursement policy to help employees pursue a college degree, and virtually all of those employers made it available to all levels of employees in the organization.

The survey also examines which employees are the top budget priority for internal talent development; how talent development priorities shift depending on an organization’s workforce makeup; a ranking of 10 key employee development challenges; view of for- and non-profit colleges and universities; and details about what percentage of employees currently hold college degrees.