Sharpening one’s skills is key to growing one’s career path, maintaining an edge over the competition, and bringing added value to the business. This is why many organizations implement regular upskilling cycles, to keep employees at the top of their game. This is especially important in today’s technology-focused, modernized workforce–regardless of the industry. The challenge becomes, how do companies deliver targeted upskilling programs regardless of organizational scale?
What Is Upskilling?
Upskilling is the process of increasing existing skills to an optimal level. It is crucial to note that “optimal” is a difficult benchmark to measure. This is because rapid changes in required skills, both in terms of which skill categories are most important, and in terms of their individual composition, make it a challenge to know what is common in the industry and required for the company.
Why Is Upskilling Important?
According to PwC and the World Economic Forum, upskilling represents a significant opportunity for the global market. By enhancing the skills needed to take part in constantly changing economies, industries can increase global GDP by USD 6.5 trillion.
On an individual basis, companies can see the following benefits as the result of upskilling programs:
The value of L&D programs, including efforts to upskill employees, should be justified by measurable benefits. One study by PwC shows that 93% of the CEOs of organizations that implement upskilling programs see increased productivity. Workers describe similar successes, as 80% of employees claim that upskilling (and reskilling) has made them more productive.
These statistics demonstrate that upskilling can enable employees to tackle challenging tasks, achieve more at a faster pace, and make significant contributions to the success of the team.
By maintaining a broad spectrum of upskilling initiatives, businesses can generate a comprehensive reinforcement of skill levels.
However, whereas ‘hard’ skills are a traditional focus of upskilling, there is growing recognition of the importance of soft skills to the general health of the organization. Given that the demand for specific soft skills is constantly changing, initiating an upskilling cycle for soft skills is just as essential as that for hard skills.
The rise and continued effect of COVID demonstrates the potential of external events to require rapid adaptation. During the pandemic, there was a surge in demand for various types of skills in an attempt to enable employees to adjust to drastic changes. With an upskilling program, employees are constantly refreshing the most essential skills for that period of time and so are ready for important shifts.
Similarly, the extensive rate of employee turnover during the Great Resignation suggests that organizations should always maintain skill levels of their existing workforce. Even in normal times, it is essentially more beneficial to hire from within than take on new employees whenever a skill gap arises.
One of the results of upskilling should be internal mobility (although not all organizations follow through on this). Companies that reward efforts to upskill employees enjoy higher retention rates than those that do not. With greater retention, organizations realize numerous advantages, including improved morale, engagement, and revenue. Conversely, when employees leave, an organization will suffer from an immediate skill gap related to the cumulative experience of the former worker.
A Note on Reskilling
Some organizations consider upskilling and reskilling to be synonymous, but this is not accurate. Whereas upskilling adds to existing skills, reskilling trains employees in new skills that are applied to new areas, for example, when an employee moves to a different department.
The Challenges of Upskilling
Upskilling is a daunting task for L&D departments. They need to decide what kinds of skills need upgrading, find experts to teach those skills, and assess the results of their efforts. This task becomes all the more complex as the size of the organization increases. A major factor in this difficulty is the common inability of L&D departments to recognize the exact areas of skill development for each employee. In addition, due to rapidly changing demands for professional skills, L&D departments are not always up to date on which skills are priorities for upskilling courses.
GrowthSpace and Upskilling Initiatives
GrowthSpace is the solution that world-class companies are turning to for their upskilling needs. Due to its technology-based platform, GrowthSpace allows L&D practitioners to:
- Precisely define upskilling requirements on an individual level
- Locate top coaches, mentors, and trainers to deliver the most timely and relevant upskilling initiatives
- Grade the effect and quality of the upskilling program using an intuitive mechanism