Upskilling and reskilling programs benefit organizations and their employees

According to a report by McKinsey & Co., 87% of executives said they were experiencing skills gaps or expect to experience them in the near future. Therefore, upskilling and reskilling your workforce has never been so important. It is essential for building a more agile organization that can quickly adapt to market changes. The terms upskilling and reskilling may be used interchangeably but have different meanings:

  • UPSKILLING involves enabling employees to build on existing skills to perform their roles effectively and take on additional responsibilities. It also prepares them for progression to more senior positions.
  • RESKILLING encourages employees to develop new skills to take on a different role within the organization.

The main benefits of upskilling and reskilling is increasing retention and productivity. In fact, a 2020 PwC survey revealed that 93% of CEOs believed that upskilling and reskilling initiatives led to increased productivity and improved talent acquisition and retention. You show that you care about employee career development and growth by offering training and development opportunities. This may also persuade employees to stick around longer.

For upskilling and reskilling programs to be successful, they must be well-planned and fully embraced by employees at all levels. Following are five steps to get your upskilling and reskilling programs started:


Step 1: Gain senior management support

Building a learning culture starts at the top. Consequently, gaining senior leadership support is crucial to the success of any program. While your CEO sets the vision for the company’s future direction, including how to respond to market changes, HR leaders play a substantial role in employee training and development plans. All upskilling and reskilling initiatives should align with the company’s vision and goals.


Step 2: Conduct a skill gap analysis

A skill gap analysis involves identifying the skills needed by the workforce based on future business goals. Then you need to compare those needs with employees’ current skillsets to identify the gaps. HR can use these results to determine where to focus any upskilling and reskilling efforts.


Step 3: Uncover employee career development plans

First, managers conduct individual meetings with direct reports to discuss professional goals and interests. During these meetings, they can dive into the interests and career path intentions of the employee. Where do they see themselves progressing throughout their tenure at the company? This is an excellent opportunity for employees to share what skills, competencies, and knowledge they feel they need to develop. Then, the information gathered compared with the skills gap analysis helps your organization assess the areas you can upskill or reskill. Last, managers can work with employees to create individual career development plans that align with the employee and company goals.


Step 4: Provide learning tools

Some common learning methods include:

  • Job-specific training, workshops, and seminars
  • Online courses
  • Microlearning: bite-sized training modules
  • Job shadowing: observation of a more senior employee’s daily activities
  • Job rotation: changing roles to understand how different departments work
  • Mentoring: senior colleagues coach fellow employees through personal and professional development
  • Online learning communities: platforms that enable employees to collaborate, share learning content, industry-related news, hints and tips, and ask and answer questions about specific problems

Each employee will have different preferred learning styles, so offering a variety of learning tools is optimal. Whichever means you provide, remember the employee will need time away from their role to participate in the learning activities.


Step 5: Monitor program success

Upskilling and reskilling programs shouldn’t end with implementation. You must measure their success so you can continuously improve them.

Also, you should monitor their use and impact. Are employees participating? Are they learning the intended skills from the programs you’ve implemented? Is your organization benefiting from the new skills obtained through the learning tools? As you can imagine, you can only answer these questions if you’ve set up clear metrics to track impact on productivity, employee advancement, and retention.

For upskilling and reskilling to be successful in your organization, it needs to be embraced by all employees. By carefully implementing an upskilling and reskilling program tailored to your company goals and developing the metrics to measure success, you set your organization and employees up for success. Additionally, you will boost retention and productivity, and better prepare your company to face future challenges.


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