Upskilling strategies have become increasingly important to the survival of workers and businesses worldwide. As technology evolves at a breakneck pace, market dynamics, customer preferences, and competitor strategies change accordingly. Upskilling allows companies and workers alike to stay relevant and keep pace with technological and competitive changes. Let’s take a look at the benefits of and best tactics for upskilling and reskilling your workforce.
Upskilling And Reskilling Your Workforce
Upskilling strategies – what are they? You’re no doubt already familiar with the term, but to establish context for today, we’ll share a quick refresher.
In short, upskilling involves teaching employees in-demand skills, as well as skills anticipated to be in demand in the future. It’s as simple as ensuring your employees know about the latest technologies, concepts, and market dynamics and how to respond to them. Upskilling and reskilling can strongly improve workforce productivity and job satisfaction. And, because talent and skills gaps are increasing, upskilling and reskilling are even more essential today than ever.
Having stated the importance of upskilling your workforce, let’s now look at the best strategies to upskill employees.
How To Upskill
Let’s get into how to upskill. Researching competitors, your sector at-large, and national economic and technological trends can be a great first step in a successful upskilling effort. Next, since professional upskilling is a long-game effort, we recommend drafting a plan to identify the ideal outcome and anticipate potential roadblocks. This plan should include measurable milestones to ensure your upskilling and reskilling efforts bear fruit. While it might be tempting to tackle every skill at once, focusing on one skill at a time will ultimately be more effective. It will also be easier to organize and track progress with a focus on a single skill.
Upskilling For the Future
If you upskill your employees, they will not only grow in what they already know, but gain new skills that can save the company from hiring new employees to meet market demands. Upskilling for the future requires research, organization, and patience. Sometimes, there may not be an immediate need for an employee to have X skill – for example, coding. However, if the industry anticipates that need, it may be wise to upskill someone on your team willing to tackle the challenge, rather than waiting and hiring someone externally when the challenge presents itself. Why not, then, teach one of your existing employees to code?
Another method to upskill for the future involves updating job descriptions with the future in mind. It is inevitable that the nature of a job will change over time as automation takes over menial work and new market demands arise. Thus, updating job descriptions when hiring talent, with the anticipated needs in mind, can spare a Human Resources team hiring headaches in the future.
Based on our years of experience helping management teams and individual candidates up-level their careers, keep reading for a number of upskilling ideas. Keep in mind, there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to upskilling strategies.
One common avenue for upskilling is through apprenticeships. This tried-and-true method is an opportunity for an apprentice to receive paid training in a skill of their choice, a symbiotic relationship benefitting both the individual’s career and the company’s workforce. Similarly, setting up a mentorship program at your company can facilitate both upskilling initiatives and team bonding. Even if it’s not through a formal mentorship program, creating an environment where less-experienced employees can interact with and feel comfortable talking to more experienced team members can also promote upskilling efforts.
On another note, establishing business and education partnerships is an increasingly popular upskilling strategy. Professional upskilling benefits from intimate learning experiences from seasoned leaders. Subsidizing a formal education focused on desired skills can pay dividends for companies in the long run. For example, top consulting firms will often sponsor an employee’s business degree with the hope that the skills (and network) gained will outweigh the cost of the degree in the long run.
Virtual learning courses are another viable upskilling option. Programs like Skillshare, Coursera, LinkedIn Learning, and Udemy give employees the opportunity to gain a wide range of skills. Flexibility is a huge benefit in this equation – students can go through a course at their own pace from anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection.
In the wake of the disruption that the Covid-19 pandemic brought about, it has never been clearer that businesses need a strategy to upskill and reskill their workforces. Upskilling, when done correctly, can not only sustain a company through tough times, but be the source of true competitive advantage.
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