Skill gaps in companies are growing. Hiring difficulties are a current and real issue for many companies, affecting their ability to continuously grow and innovate as the market begins to expand. However, there are ways around this hiring issue. Instead of focusing solely on sourcing outside talent, companies can work to improve on their already existing employees through upskilling and reskilling.
Although the solution may seem far too simple for the complexity of the hiring recession, both upskilling and reskilling are viable options that a company's management can seek to apply to ensure that skill gaps are closed and the company can execute their overall strategies.
What is reskilling and upskilling?
Reskilling and upskilling are a way to help your current employees develop their existing skills or acquire new competencies. Developing employee skill sets is a way to better your current employees and save on hiring and training costs while building on employee loyalty and career development. Upskilling aims to teach employees new skills to optimise their performance, creating a more specialised worker, while reskilling is the process of learning something new for a new position or role – creating a more versatile worker.
It should be noted that when investing in upskilling and reskilling you should ensure that you create a well thought out and impactful learning experience, as surveys* revealed that while 74 percent of respondents’ current employers offer upskilling programs, and while the majority find such programs somewhat helpful, only 13 percent find them to be very helpful. By understanding upskilling and reskilling and taking the steps to ensure you are providing the right learning to the right employee, you are one step closer to building an impactful learning program.
Upskilling aims to facilitate continuous growth through training programs and development opportunities. Upskilling allows an expansion of abilities while reducing skill gaps to facilitate role transitioning opportunities within a company.
One of the main drivers for upskilling are the continuous and rapid technological changes that affect a company and its operating environment. Due to these technological shifts, companies and their employees must consistently add to their technical knowledge and skill sets. Companies may also choose to restructure the work environment, creating new gaps within the workplace; these gaps are filled through upskilling.
Reskilling is the process of entirely developing new skills to take on a new role; rather than outsourcing or bringing in new employees for the part, employers may look to their pre-standing team to fill staffing gaps.
Once again, the rapidly changing state of today's technology in the workforce is one significant factor driving the need for workforce reskilling. Reskilling can also adapt an employee's role to one that is more current and applicable to the company's goals. Reskilling is an essential part of the development and transformation of modern firms.
Importance of identifying skills gaps for training and development
Skill gaps within your organisation can easily stand in the way of achieving your goals. Identifying skill gaps in the workplace is essential in understanding when to upskill or reskill your employees. To put it simply, skill gaps cause a gulf between an employee's ability to complete any given task and the end goal.
A company may notice the performance of their employees is not on par with their expectations; the leading cause of this is not due to the employee's lack of interest or hard work, but rather to a skills gap.
When observing these skills gaps, it is essential that you know which data to gather to decide whether an employee requires reskilling or upskilling. Companies can utilise several methods to know exactly what is required to close identified skill gaps; monitoring an employee’s KPIs will tell you about the contributions being made by the specific employee as well as their overall performance and career progression. Also consider asking the employee how they can be supported or where they want to take their career after these assessments are completed. These questions will help you identify what skills are needed to get to where they want to or need to be and how to best support them.
How to implement reskilling and upskilling?
Look for employees with transferable skills.
Whether the transferable skills are hard or soft, it is essential to seek a candidate with the desirable, transferable skills for the given role. Although each employee will hold their transferable skills, it's important to distinguish which ones will best fit this role regarding training needs and cost for the company - for example, you may seek out someone who excels creatively to train them in marketing.
Look for skill gaps.
Look at current and future business goals to help determine what you may need for the industry. Assess your current workforce to identify gaps in skills or mismatched roles to distinguish those requiring extra training to assist them in their current or upcoming role.
Prioritise the essential skills
Look at your current position, your overall goals, what specific skills are required to get there, and what gaps there are between these skills and your employee’s current skillsets. These questions will reveal what skills you need to prioritise for goal achievement and will help you distinguish what learning is required among your employees.
Real-world context and feedback
Linking your learning with the real-world scenarios your learner is likely to encounter, through action learning, contextualisation and opportunities to apply their skills in a practical setting, will allow them to use their learned knowledge from training in day-to-day practice. Feedback is also an essential part of any learning; by informing the individual or team about their progress, they can make any necessary adjustments to make the most of their learning and stay on track.
Make it company culture.
By creating a central culture around the importance of reskilling and upskilling, companies signal a commitment to continuous development and growth for their employees and, in turn, will notice higher job satisfaction and quality of work from their teams.
Investing in upskilling and reskilling will ensure your employees that their development and growth are a priority, helping you create a solid and adaptable team that can take on the challenges of an ever-changing world.
* More Australians are seeking quality short courses to upskill, p., 2022. More Australians are seeking quality short courses to upskill, protect and future-proof their careers. [online] Newsroom. Available at: <https://www.unimelb.edu.au/newsroom/news/2021/september/more-australians-are-seeking-quality-short-courses-to-upskill,-protect-and-future-proof-their-careers> [Accessed 20 July 2022].