Skilling & Career Mobility in 2023: Top 3 HR Predictions from the World Economic Forum

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Guild’s CEO and Founder sat down at the career mobility panel Retrain to Retain to discuss how employers are using online learning and coaching to create cultures of opportunity that turn skilling into tangible career mobility.

Other notable panelists leading the charge in this arena include:

You can watch the full recording on LinkedIn, or read on to find out what our top 3 HR predictions are for 2023. 

1. Employers will continue to invest strongly in skilling despite macroeconomic trends because it drives positive ROI

Chatter of sluggish macroeconomic growth will not slow down CHROs who are on a mission to engage and mobilize their workforces this year.

Here’s why.

Skilling tied to career pathways drives measurable gains in talent attraction, retention, and mobility 

Unlike other benefits that are difficult to tie directly to ROI – such as health insurance or wage increases – skilling and education programs tied to career pathways can be clearly linked to improvements in talent attraction, retention, and career mobility

Here are some of the numbers our employers are seeing:

  • Attraction: 52% of new hires cited the Guild benefit as the a reason for joining the company in Q1 of 2022, one healthcare partner reported (1) 
  • Retention: Guild Learning Marketplace learners were 2.1x less likely to leave their employer in the last 12 months relative to non-engaged employees (2) 
  • Career Mobility: 2.2X higher likelihood of internal mobility for learners in our Learning Marketplace compared to non-engaged employees (2) 

That equates to an average ROI of $3.00 for every $1 spent on education and skilling for our employer partners. (3)

Haven’t been tracking this kind of internal data yet? You’re not alone. That’s about to change this year.

Employers will get smarter about how they measure the ROI of their talent investments

The nature of traditional employer education programs (usually in the form of tuition reimbursement) make it nearly impossible for HR teams to measure the outcomes of any given individual program. 

But it’s 2023 – and as employers automate and digitize every other aspect of their business, education and skilling will be no exception. With that should come data backed analytics of outcomes and impact. 

As mentioned on the panel, one of the ways we help employers get a more comprehensive view into the ROI of their L&D investments is by curating a catalog of courses (online and hybrid) that employees can access at scale through Guild’s Opportunity Platform™. 

Not only can employers align all of the programs in their catalog to their strategic workforce planning goals, but they are also able to easily track learner engagement, enrollment, and academic persistence data through the platform – which is key to unlocking career mobility.

2. Employers will focus more on what employees really care about: career mobility

Two thirds of U.S. workers want to move into a new role – and more than half hope it’s at their current company. Career advancement opportunities must be clearly illuminated for today’s employees. 

And while it’s great to acknowledge the need for an investment in skilling, learning is still a means to an end but not the end in itself.

Employers must tie skilling to career pathways into priority roles in order to see impactful outcomes for both your business and your people.

Not only does this build resilience within a workforce that is grappling with trusting big business and democracy at large, but it also helps corporations attract talent whose intention is to grow with the employer.

Employers will build the piping between employees who complete programs and open jobs in their organizations

Here’s the linchpin of a good skilling and education program: A solid strategy on how to take employees who complete (or are on their way to completing) a program and place them in high-priority job openings that require those skills.

A practical way to do this is through gateway roles.

In our recent post on how to fill talent pipelines with career pathways, our Head of Talent Mobility explains how employers who change their talent distribution models to include more gateway roles – transitional roles that offer a chance to further skill growth and acquire experience – can carve out career pathways for employees who are just starting out in new fields (i.e. open more Junior Software Engineer roles as opposed to just recruiting Seniors).

This, in turn, builds a bench of talent able to grow into more senior, destination roles from within the business while demonstrating to employees a commitment to their long term growth with your company.

HR teams will lean into their employee skilling data to fill in the gaps

The most important and simple thing we do is give the data back to the company every month, every quarter, of who is progressing and who is completing the programs…” says Rachel Romer.

But just having the data is not enough. 

Companies need to build out dedicated HR functions around building career pathways and supporting employees who are seeking out new roles within their companies (more on this from our recent webinar with Josh Bersin).

And sometimes those career pathways are “non-traditional”.

Here’s an example. On the panel, CHRO of Tyson alludes to how their HR team is currently reskilling factory workers into Registered Nurses who would turn around and serve those same facilities with medical capabilities, making them uniquely positioned to understand the needs of the workers who run them. 

Guild then aligns with Tyson’s HR priorities to offer career coaching, marketing and support to help drive this initiative forward.

3. Employers will make skilling tied to career growth an exciting (and attainable) prospect for deskless workers.

Amid a taut labor market that promises to tighten, employers are beginning to shake the status quo that skilling and education are just for HQ workers. Instead, they are leaning into previously untapped talent pools – America’s frontline workforce by making education and skilling more equitable.

But how do companies best engage and support this new population at scale?

How do we not only arm our deskless workers with the skills they need, but also the occupational identity and social capital they need to achieve career mobility?

HR teams will flex new muscles to reach and engage this population using these tactics 

In the video, Rachel and Johanna discuss some of the most effective strategies to engage frontline talent, which include:

  • Campaigning/Marketing: Physical and digital campaigns marketing tuition-free skilling programs  
  • Personalized Support: 1:1 coaching that meets workers where they are (on the phone or at the warehouse) and at their current education level (high school completion, college prep, ESL, etc.)
  • Showcasing Success: Sharing stories of peers who successfully complete programs and reap the benefits 
  • Career Resources: Providing free resume and interview prep to motivate learners
  • Increasing Visibility: Using internal talent marketplaces to show employees where current opportunities lay within the org

What skilling and career mobility trends will you leverage this year?

For more case studies and practical ways you can lean into skilling and career mobility in 2023, check out Josh Bersin’s latest report in partnership with Guild – Career Pathways: Building Tomorrow’s Workforce Today.

Download "Career Pathways: Building Tomorrow's Workforce Today" by The Josh Bersin Company


(1) 52% of surveyed new hires cited the education benefit as a factor in decision to join in Q of 2022
(2) Guild’s internal data over the last 12 months as of 01.01.2023 from employers who have provided the required data for at least 13 months post launch.
(3) Average of all Return on Investment analyses conducted by Guild for employer partners as of 01.01.2023