In today’s competitive job market, employers face the challenge of finding and retaining workers equipped with the necessary skills to fill their open positions. A recent survey by Wiley, “Closing the skills gap 2023: Employer perspectives on educating the post-pandemic workforce,” highlights this issue. It reveals that 69% of 600 U.S. human resources professionals acknowledge a skills gap within their organizations, a significant increase from 55% in 2021.
Interestingly, nearly two-thirds of these professionals would consider upskilling or reskilling their current workforce to address this gap. However, approximately 40% lack the initiatives or resources to implement such strategies, despite evidence that talent development is a key factor in employee retention. A 2022 SHRM study supports this, showing that 76% of employees are more likely to stay with their company if training opportunities are provided.
Understanding Upskilling vs. Reskilling
Upskilling and reskilling are two strategies for enhancing employee capabilities, but they serve different purposes:
- Upskilling is the process of improving or updating employees’ existing skills to match the evolving demands of their current roles or career paths. It aims to increase proficiency and performance in their current jobs through targeted skill enhancement, such as advancing software skills, deepening industry knowledge, or honing customer service abilities.
- Reskilling, on the other hand, involves training employees in new skills that diverge from their current job functions. This is typically pursued when roles are at risk of becoming obsolete due to technological changes or market shifts. Reskilling prepares employees for entirely different positions, possibly within a new industry, ensuring they remain valuable and employable.
Creating Effective Upskilling and Reskilling Programs
To stay ahead in a rapidly evolving business landscape, it’s essential to develop effective upskilling and reskilling programs. Here are some best practices to guide you:
Assess current skills gaps
Start by identifying the specific skills gaps within your organization. This can involve skill assessments, surveys, or one-on-one discussions with employees.
Develop a clear roadmap
Identify which employees need upskilling or reskilling based on the skills needed for your company’s future – this can help prioritize which skills are most critical. Create a structured plan that outlines the skills development journey, including the specific skills to be learned, the training methods, and the timeline for completion.
Promote a learning culture
Encourage a culture of continuous learning and development within your organization. Leaders should set an example by participating in training and supporting employees’ growth. Ask your managers to discuss skill needs during performance reviews and provide regular reminders about the upskilling and reskilling options you offer.
Programs like these can suffer from lack of adoption, so be sure to offer a variety of training methods so you can tailor the approach to each employee’s learning style.
Offer continuous feedback
Establish a system for ongoing feedback and performance assessment to track employees’ progress and adjust the training program as needed. Implement key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the effectiveness of upskilling and reskilling efforts. Monitor how new skills positively impact job performance. This can help employees see how their newly acquired skills can lead to career advancement within the organization. Acknowledge and celebrate employees’ accomplishments as they acquire new skills. Recognize their efforts and successes.
Encourage peer learning
Foster a collaborative environment where employees can learn from each other through peer mentoring, knowledge sharing, and communities of practice. This encourages a culture of learning and development.
Allocate sufficient resources
If internal training and development isn’t part of your annual budget, add it. This can include collaborating with external training providers, educational institutions, or industry organizations to access specialized expertise and resources. Consider the long-term benefits and return on investment (ROI) of a skilled and adaptable workforce.
By embracing these practices, organizations can empower their employees to excel in their current roles and prepare for future challenges, fostering growth and success for the entire company.
Upskilling and reskilling not only facilitate career advancement for your workforce but also provide a strategic approach to closing the skills gap with the talent you already have. This approach can be a sustainable alternative to layoffs, even when organizational restructuring is on the horizon, regardless of economic conditions.