Employee training is climbing up the company priority ladder as businesses seek to respond to talent shortages and fill vacant positions in the face of near-record lows in unemployment—September’s unemployment rate of 3.7 percent was the lowest since 1969.

The U.S. Census Bureau reported that in 2008, only 11 percent of workers received employer-sponsored training—in comparison, the bureau found 19 percent of workers received such training in 1996. While the Census Bureau hasn’t updated its figures, information from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development shows that 66 percent of workers received training from their employers in the past year. This dramatic uptick reflects pressure the unemployment rate is placing on employers as they work to fill open positions—the Labor Department reports that as of August, there were seven million unfilled jobs in the U.S.

Employers have three primary avenues for responding to talent shortages. They can offer higher salaries, look beyond their traditional talent pool for recruits and provide training to their existing employees. A survey this year by ManpowerGroup found that 55 percent of companies opted to provide the additional training.

Reporting from Bloomberg notes that employee training heads off several other business concerns. Automation is not replacing human workers, but instead, it is pushing them to learn how to work with it. This and other factors have led to constantly evolving job requirements, and organizational learning programs help companies stay on top of it. Furthermore, employee training creates a more loyal workforce. A LinkedIn survey found that 94 percent of respondents said they would stay longer at a company that invested in their career development.