January is National Mentoring Month, and @UOPX Chief Operating Officer Raghu Krishnaiah shared insights on how mentoring is critical to building social capital for workers, and how employers can support social capital and career advancement.

January is National Mentoring Month, and University of Phoenix Chief Operating Officer Raghu Krishnaiah this week shared insights on how mentoring is critical to building social capital for workers, and how employers can support social capital and career advancement. According to the University of Phoenix Career Institute’s annual Career Optimism Index™ study (2021 release), American workers rank professional networking and skill development as top needs for advancing their careers, but 55% need help connecting with others in their current or desired field, and 54% need help finding a mentor or advocate.

As pandemic life recedes, many people across the globe are rethinking what work means to them, how they’re valued and how they spend their time. In what’s being called “The Great Resignation,” the “Great Reshuffle” or “The Big Quit”, millions of Americans have been quitting their jobs at record levels throughout 2021.

In today’s job market, many individuals may be able to leverage the shortage of workers to seek employment. But career advancement still requires social capital and an understanding of how to develop workplace connections, mentors, and advocacy.

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“Individuals can build their social capital by identifying and asking a trusted advisor to be a mentor, and by forming a network of individuals in the field that interests them – in the workplace, college societies and professors, alumni and professional associations, churches, members of their community,” shared Krishnaiah. “Social capital is critical to career advancement, and for many workers, it does not exist. The lack of social capital has an outsized impact on people of color and is part of a structural disadvantage.”

For workers that wish to build skills, there are many options, including in-person or online enrollment with a university for coursework, degrees, and professional development. Krishnaiah shared that there may be other alternatives as well.

“For example, to help solve for the increasing talent demand and widening skills gap in the technology sector, University of Phoenix works with Woz U to articulate learning in a Technology Apprenticeship Program, toward the completion of a BSIT degree,” stated Krishnaiah.

Mentoring can also be a critical component to worker happiness. A survey from just a few years ago found that 9 in 10 workers who have a mentor say they are happy in their jobs. “Employers can seek to offer mentoring opportunities in their workplace,” Krishnaiah stated.

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The Career Optimism Index study also found that 80% of workers are always looking for ways to expand their skillset, and with over 10 million job openings across the U.S., employers are seeking to differentiate themselves. Krishnaiah shared that employers can do so by providing opportunities to build skills, career advancement, and mentorship: “We help employers with this; we have a Workforce Solutions team that works with employers to identify what works best for them, tuition assistance supporting upward mobility, as well as through less traditional and more innovative prospects: upskilling, reskilling, professional development courses, and apprenticeships.”

Krishnaiah offered this final additional insight, “For our leaders out there at all stages in their careers – be a mentor! If you see an individual seeking to grow their potential, offer to be their mentor! Pay it forward.”

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