Ways to reskill and upskill your employees for future competitiveness.
According to a 2020 report by the World Economic Forum, by 2025, 85 million jobs may be displaced by a shift in the division of labour between humans and machines. The report further stated that 97 million new roles may emerge that are more adapted to this new division of labour. On the average, companies estimate that around 40% of workers will require reskilling of six months and 94% of business leaders report that they expect employees to pick up new skills on the job.
What does this report tell us?
There is every need to reskill and upskill your employees if you want them to still remain relevant in years to come. So as we move towards an increasingly automated future, it’s more important than ever to think about how we can reskill and upskill our employees. Any of your employees reluctant to reskill and upskill will invariably be out of job.
Fortunately, there are many ways to reskill and upskill your employees. By taking a strategic approach to workforce planning, you can ensure that your organization has the skilled employees it needs to meet its business goals. Interestingly, many of the strategies that can help you attract and retain top talent can also help you reskill and upskill your employees.
This article will explore ten ways to reskill and upskill your employees.
What Does it Mean to Upskill an Employee?
To upskill an employee is to teach or train such an employee on additional skills that are relevant to the present job the person is doing. It can also refer to a training to improve the aptitude of work of an individual. Usually this becomes necessary when advanced or new technologies are introduced to the system. It can also become relevant when new machines or equipment are acquired that changes the way a particular job is to be done. Competition can also bring about upskilling.
What Does it Mean to Reskill an Employee?
To reskill on the other hand involves a major shift in training. It is the training of an employee or employees on an entirely new set of skills that prepares them for a different role within the same organisation. Reskilling occurs when an organisation tends to exit a market or diversify into something completely different. It also becomes necessary when an employee is deployed to another department that requires different skill-set.
Difference Between Reskill and Upskill of Employees
The first and major difference between reskill and upskill as it concerns employees has to do with the skill itself. In reskilling, employees learn a new set of skills, which is not related to their current position, whereas, in upskilling, employees improve their existing skills and learn skills related to their current position.
2. Job Roles
The second difference between reskilling and upskilling of your employees has to do with the job roles. Whereas reskilling prepares employees for a completely new role within the same organisation, upskilling prepares employees for the same role but now better equipped.
3. Career Change
Another major difference when it comes to the issue of reskill and upskill of employees is about when each is required in one’s career. Reskilling involves a change in career, whereas upskilling does not usually involve a change in career.
4. Growth Path
One can argue that both reskill and upskill brings about growth for the employees and that will be right. But what direction does this growth face? That is where another major difference exists.
Upskill growth is linear. It starts with existing skills and hones them. A programmer, for example, can be upskilled to become a systems analyst.
On the other hand, reskilling prepares employees to move laterally or into newly created roles as work evolves to leverage digital transformation. For instance, many blue-collar roles are being replaced by automation, so employees in those roles must be reskilled to manage that technology.
FYI: Neither reskilling nor upskilling is directly associated with promotion, however upskilling makes promotion faster.
Reskilling and Upskilling Examples
You can use reskilling for several situations, but one of the most common is the desire to retain reliable, high-performing employees whose roles have become obsolete.
I give you an example.
Perhaps your organization has removed a department or sunsetted a key software solution. In either scenario, you will be left with a pool of employees whose original job function with your organization is no longer needed. So what do you do with those staff? Remember that it is not that they are not performing well. Removing of that department has nothing to do with them and their performance. Well, the path of least resistance is to lay them off. But you can still retain them, but it will take some work to make them more relevant. So if you choose the option of retaining them, you will need to use reskilling to assign new roles to them.
On the other hand upskilling is generally used to help adapt your workforce to new changes in the industry. It most often applies to new technology implementations.
Here is an example.
Your Head of Marketing may have thirty years of experience, but that doesn’t mean they understand how to manage a new CRM tool you’ve just implemented. So what do you do? You have to upskill him on the use of that software.
Perhaps you have a team of very experienced marketing team, but who still goes office to office submitting proposals in the name of marketing? You can decide to train them on digital marketing and their job gets better.
Companies Reskilling and Upskilling Employees
Facing a historic knowledge drain, rapid digital transformation, and a seismic shift to remote work, companies are spending big money on upskilling employees. Yes, every progressive company know that it is inevitable. It is only companies that want to remain small that still believe that investment in learning and development (L&D) is an unnecessary expense.
Capterra did a survey of nearly 300 HR leaders on their budget for L & D. And the report shows that 49% of organizations are increasing their L&D spend in 2022. As at 2021 the figure was 41%. So that is a 20% increase YOY.
World Economic Forum report shows that investing in upskilling not only benefits workers, but has the potential to boost global GDP by $6.5 trillion. It will equally create new jobs and help to develop more inclusive and sustainable world economies.
Today I share with you five companies with successful upskilling and reskilling programs in 2022:
1. Walmart – reskill and upskill employees
Walmart is the largest private employer in the U.S. It announced in 2021 that it would invest nearly $1 billion over the next five years to provide its employees with free access to higher education and skills training. Through its Live Better U (LBU) education program, the company will pay 100% of college tuition and book fees for all participating associates. LBU launched in 2018 with an initial $1 a day fee. Removing the cost barrier means that the company’s 1.6 million employees in the U.S. will have the opportunity to earn degrees and certificates to advance in their careers without the burden of education debt. The company also announced four new academic partners, including Johnson & Wales University, the University of Arizona, the University of Denver and Pathstream, which join existing partners to deliver programs tailored to adult and working learners.
2. Verizon -reskill and upskill employees
Skill Forward, is Verizon’s own upskill program. It provides free technical and soft skills training to prepare America’s workforce for technology careers. Participants can choose from a range of 10- to 15-week programs in roles such as: Cybersecurity Analyst; Junior Web Developer; Junior Full Stack Java Developer; IT Support Specialist; Junior Cloud Practitioner; and Digital Marketing Analyst. After completing the program, participants receive support in continuing their education or in finding full-time employment, internships, or apprenticeships. Verizon Skill Forward is part of the company’s $44 million commitment to training 500,000 workers for in-demand technology jobs by 2030.
3. McDonald’s – reskill and upskill employees
McDonald has Archways to Opportunity. It is a comprehensive education initiative with multiple programs to increase employees’ access to education and career opportunities. Participants have the opportunity to improve English language skills, earn a high school degree at no cost and pursue a college degree with the support of tuition assistance. They even have access to free education and career advising services. Since launching in April 2015, the initiative has supported nearly 75,000 people and provided over $165 million in high school and college tuition assistance.
McDonald’s other efforts to increase education access include the Hispanic American Commitment to Education Resources (HACER) national scholarship program; post-pandemic support programs for students enrolled at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HCBUs); online courses for young people to develop work-ready skills; and the Where You Want to Be Campaign, which connects employees with mentors in their chosen field.
4. Google – reskill and upskill employees
Google has joined forces with Jobs of the Future (JFF), a nonprofit dedicated to transforming the American workforce and education systems. Their goal is to train low-income adults and prepare the next generation for IT careers. Google’s IT Support Professional Certificate, an innovative program with interactive content, provides online training in basic and advanced IT concepts, including hands-on projects, and access to career services. With Google’s support, JFF has integrated the certificate program into leading community colleges in the Appalachian region and 20 states.
Through its $100M Google Career Certificates Fund, Google is also supporting nonprofits Social Finance, Merit America, and Year Up in upskilling more than 20,000 American workers to create a more equitable and inclusive job market. Both efforts are part of the company’s Grow with Google initiative, which gives people training, resources, and tools to grow the skills they need to find jobs. Another Grow with Google program developed in partnership with non-profits The Last Mile, Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO), Defy Ventures, Fortune Society, and The Ladies of Hope Ministries provides digital skills and jobs training for formerly incarcerated individuals.
5. Marriott International – reskill and upskill employees
Consistently ranked as the best employer in the Asia Pacific region, Marriott International offers two employee development programs. The Global Voyage Leadership Development program prepares recent university graduates to be future leaders within the organization. The 12- to 18-month, award-winning program provides hands-on and virtual training in disciplines such as accounting and finance, culinary, engineering, event management, food and beverage, human resources, revenue management, and rooms operations. For aspiring managers, the Marriott Development Academy offers a self-paced, blended learning option that allows participants to take charge of their career development. Within the Australian market alone, these programs have helped to fill over 55% of leadership positions with internal candidates.
Workforce upskilling calls for a collaborative response from both governmental and non-governmental organizations. The success of these five companies’ programs highlights the vital role of businesses in addressing this challenge.
So if you are looking for companies that will give you the opportunity for vital upskill program you know where to check. And if you are an employer you should be thinking of introducing similar programs too. You gain, the employee gain and the society also gain.
Ways to Reskill and Upskill Your Employees
1. Review your current workforce – to reskill and up skill employees
The first step to reskill and upskill your workforce is to look closely at your current employees. Identify the skills and talents they bring to the organization and consider how you can build on those strengths. It’s also important to identify any skills gaps that exist within your workforce. Furthermore, take a look at your employee demographic data. It can help you identify areas where your workforce is not as diverse as it could be.
Once you understand your current workforce, you can start thinking about how you can reskill and upskill your employees.
2. Define your business goals – to reskill and upskill your employees
The next step is to define your business goals. What does your organization hope to achieve in the next few years? Once you clearly understand your business goals, you can start thinking about the skills and talents you will need to achieve those goals. In fact it is this step that will help you know whether to reskill or upskill.
It’s important to involve your employees in this process. Ask them what skills they think they will need to meet future workplace demands. Furthermore, consult with experts in your industry to get insights on the skills that will be necessary for the future.
3. Identify skills gaps – to reskill and upskill your employees
Once you have defined your business goals and reviewed your current workforce, you should understand the skills and talents you need to achieve your goals. The next step is to identify any skills gaps within your workforce.
You can do this through various assessment methods, such as skills tests, interviews, and focus groups. Once you have identified the skills gaps within your workforce, you can start to think about how you can close those gaps.
FYI: Skill gaps refers to the fundamental difference between the skills required for a job and the skills employees actually possess. Such mismatch often lead to low productivity.
4. Design a Learning & Development Plan
The next step is to design a learning and development plan to help close the skills gaps within your workforce. This plan should be tailored to your organizational needs and align with your business goals.
When designing your learning and development plan, it’s important to consider using technology to deliver content. You can use e-learning platforms to provide content, such as webinars, online courses, and virtual classrooms. The plan can also consider programs that will be indoor and the ones that will be outsourced. Remember that external exposure brings better dynamics to the team.
5. Implement a mentorship program
One way to close skills gaps and develop your employees is to implement a mentorship program. It can provide employees with the opportunity to learn from more experienced professionals.
Mentorship programs can take many different forms. You can choose to pair employees up on a one-to-one basis, or you can create mentorship groups. You can also make mentorship a formal process or keep it informal.
6. Foster a culture of learning
To diversify and upskill your workforce, you must foster a learning culture within your organization. It means creating an environment where employees feel comfortable learning new things and expanding their skillsets.
You can do this by offering training and development opportunities, encouraging employees to share their knowledge, and providing resources that employees can use to learn new things.
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7. Encourage employee mobility
Another way to diversify and upskill your workforce is to encourage employee mobility. It means creating opportunities for employees to move around within your organization.
Employee mobility can take many forms, such as job rotations, secondments, and international assignments. By encouraging employee mobility, you can allow employees to develop new skills and experiences.
8. Use data to drive decisions
When diversifying and upskilling your workforce, it’s important to use data to drive your decisions. It means collecting data on the skills and talents of your workforce and using that data to identify areas where you need to make changes.
There are several different ways to collect data on your workforce, such as surveys, interviews, and focus groups. Once you have collected this data, you can use it to decide how to diversify and upskill your workforce.
9. Evaluate and adjust as needed
Once you have implemented your plan to diversify and upskill your workforce, evaluating the results and making adjustments as needed is important. It will help you ensure that your strategy has the desired effect and that your workforce is becoming more diverse and skilled.
It’s also important to keep in mind that your workforce will continue to evolve, so it’s important to review your plan regularly and make changes as needed. By constantly evaluating and adjusting your strategy, you can ensure that your workforce is always diverse and skilled.
10. Seek external help
If you’re having trouble diversifying and upskilling your workforce, you may want to seek external help. These experts can help you assess your needs and develop a plan to address the skills gaps in your workforce.
External help can be costly, but it may be worth the investment if you’re having trouble diversifying and upskilling your workforce. It can ensure that your plan is effective and that your workforce is diverse and skilled.
Benefits of Reskilling and Upskilling Your Employees
Reskilling and upskilling produces several benefits, both for the business and for individual employees. Here are some of the most significant benefits reskilling and upskilling brings to your company.
1. Increased staff retention capacity
When employees discover that an organisation has a functional reskill and upskill program for employees they tend to relax. They spend little or no time thinking about job change. Although they are other factors that determine how long employees stay in a particular organisation but the best talents consider learning and development program as the most important.
2. Adapt to change in real-time
With the capacity to upskill internally, your company can adapt immediately rather than as talent becomes available externally. Companies with internal upskilling programs can train and deploy existing talent to fill those needs as they arise, without becoming reliant on an unstable labor market.
3. Save time and resources
Developing an internal upskilling strategy saves time and resources. The cost of internal learning and development is significantly lower than hiring and onboarding a new employee. With the quickening pace of change, by the time you find and train a new hire to fill a skills gap, their skillset may no longer even be what you need.
When employees can see the learning opportunities available, they’re more likely to envision themselves with your company long-term. Options for upskilling prevent them from feeling trapped in their current role.
4. Improve productivity and engagement
A robust training and development program improves productivity, engagement, and retention. Learning new skills helps employees stay productive at your company longer. Instead of becoming outdated, they become more agile and able to work more efficiently.
Additionally, offering professional development signals interest in your workforce’s wellbeing. This will in turn promote employees’ loyalty and commitment.
Conclusion on ways to Reskill and Upskill Your Employees
How enormous was the impact of COVID-19 on workers? Very enormous. Beyond what many moight want to believe. It changed almost everything about the way we work. But even before COVID, technology was already changing a lot about the work we do and how we do them. The number of workers worldwide requiring reskilling or upskilling increased after COVID -19 by nearly 300 million. That’s almost ten percent of the global workforce.
So reskilling and upskilling is now more important than ever.
And suppose you’re looking for ways to reskill and upskill your employees you now have many options. By designing a learning and development plan, implementing a mentorship program, and fostering a learning culture, you can allow your employees to develop new skills and experiences. You can also encourage employee mobility and use data to drive your decisions. Finally, you should evaluate your plan regularly and seek external help if needed.
And of course you can see the amazing benefits that it brings. Google is upskilling. Walmart is upskilling. Verizon is upskilling. McDonald’s is upskilling. And Marriott is upskilling. How then do you think you can succeed if you fail to upskill?
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