According to a 2020 report by the World Economic Forum, the rapid acceleration of automation and economic uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will shift the division of labor between humans and machines. This means that as technology develops and evolves, the workforce will use more technology, creating more modern, tech-based jobs.
The World Economic Forum indicates this will lead to 85 million jobs displaced and 97 million new ones created by 2025. While some companies have announced layoffs, others need help forecasting future talent needs.
Offering opportunities for employee development, such as upskilling and reskilling, can help companies avoid layoffs because you’re creating your future workforce internally based on what your employees want to learn. This allows companies to redeploy talent to other business areas where you need specifically skilled talent.
What is Upskilling, and Why is it Necessary for Employee Development?
Upskilling refers to an individual learning a new skill, usually in the context of professional development. As technology evolves and work becomes more modernized, employees must learn new skills to stay current or shift to different tasks.
This is incredibly important because of the increasing digital transformation of most industries and the economy. This doesn’t mean that machines will overtake some aspects of job tasks – it means complex data analysis, more reliance on technology to drive customer interfaces, and the necessary digital shift to remote and global work.
The growing shift of the world to modern technology requires workers to shift their skills to be more tech-savvy. If employees fail to adapt to these technological shifts, it can create a skills gap. As your company grows and increases the use of modern technology, digital skills will become needed and necessary. The job requirements and tasks are dynamic–they will change and shift depending on the use of technology and the company’s needs. Upskilling can decrease skill gaps by ensuring your employees are updated with the company’s digital shifts.
In addition to the benefits, upskilling provides your growing and evolving company. It also improves employee performance and reliability and can increase employee retention.
What Does an Upskilling Program Look Like?
To create a successful upskilling program, you must communicate with your employees and truly understand their goals and professional interests. If you offer mandatory training sessions about whatever new software you think would be the most useful, you’re less likely to engage and fully gain your employees’ attention.
Instead, try having direct and meaningful one-on-one conversations with your employees to understand their professional goals and interests. This allows your employees to advocate for themselves and perhaps get involved in a project they’re genuinely interested in. After you understand the scope of their goals, you can place them in in-house training or programs or even give them resources to educate themselves online through digital classes.
Of course, after an employee has learned a new skill, you need to make sure it’s being put into use – don’t turn down ideas! Identify which skills your employees have that may be useful to speed up or enhance projects and find ways to streamline goals using the skills you have on hand. This is an excellent opportunity to examine any current skill gaps and fill them with your existing resources.
Finally, make sure that your employees have milestones to look forward to. While creating employee development opportunities, make sure that you provide a roadmap of the milestones ahead and which programs or classes are available to them. This helps increase employee retention immeasurably and ensures employees feel empowered about their upskilling journey.