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How to effectively upskill your employees

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Written by: SafeWorkforce
17th May

What is upskilling

Upskilling is aimed at teaching employees’ new skills to optimise their performance.

This helps employers retain talent and close skills gaps. When you upskill your employees it can be used to enhance an employee’s abilities which could advance them along their career path but reskilling could be used to allow an employee to learn new skills entirely so that they can potentially change their career paths.

Why is it important to upskill your employees?

Upskilling addresses the speed of transformation that companies need as employees are getting to expand their existing skills and knowledge and therefore feel more confident to take on additional responsibilities. Reskilling, on the other hand, allows you to fill gaps in your employee base as it requires teaching employees’ new skills so that they can change their role. Either way, by providing employees with the chance to progress their careers and learn new skills, you are showing them that you have trust in them and can help you tackle ‘quiet quitting’.

The Benefits of Upskilling:

  • Bridge the digital divide at the company and make it more competitive
  • Less selection procedures and therefore, shorter adaptation periods
  • Cuts recruitment costs
  • Creates loyalty, employee engagement, and talent retention – 94% of employees say they would stay at their company longer if they invested in their careers and 86% of CEOs reported that launching digital training and education programs led to improved employee engagement.
  • Enhances the company reputation
  • Encourages a dynamic business culture
  • Allows employees to develop their soft and hard skills

Technology based upskilling

You’ve probably heard a lot lately that there is a ‘skills shortage’ across the global world of work. Whilst we can partly blame some of this on the covid-19 pandemic, the reality of it is that it is the lack of adequate digital knowledge in things such as automation, AI or VR, is meaning that companies aren’t transforming quick enough to meet the change to a digital / technological world of work.  McKinsey goes as far as stating that by 2030, two thirds of the UK workforce will lack basic digital skills.

As technology is now rapidly replacing traditionally human-operated roles, now is the time to start reskilling employees to help them find other interests or career paths. The general roles of manufacturing, retail, and administration will eventually be limited whereas roles that didn’t exist 5 to 10 years ago such as app developers, cloud computing specialists, and UX designers will be more prominent in the recruitment market.

Implementing a Plan to Upskill your Employees

Having an L&D department, or even a person who can oversee learning and development of your employees, is essential when it comes to navigating changes. They can manage the process and help provide business plans that can help you see why there is a need to upskill and reskill your employees. In order to implement a reskilling or upskilling plan, the L&D team/person would need to follow these steps:

  1. Study the business needs and requirements: what positions do you need, what skills do you need?
  2. Assess your current employee base and their skills – who needs upskilling, who needs reskilling?
  3. Design a training system for each type of employee – ensure the training is relevant, accessible and easy enough to complete during their working day
  4. Continuously assess the employee’s progress to see how they are doing
  5. Analyse the workforce response – how are people responding to the change?

To further advance your upskilling or reskilling plans, you can also implement a knowledge sharing community where employees can learn from each other and collaborate.

Are there other solutions we can look at?

Another way to implement upskilling and reskilling within your business is to provide structured career pathing. To do this, you would need to allow your employee to set a course of their own personal career development and then look at how you can introduce upskilling and reskilling so that you can align their career goals with your business objectives. Then like above, you would need to evaluate the business needs and understand what skills are required of each employee that has a desire to move into a new position or progress in their career. Download our Personal Development Plan Template.

Example of Upskilling:

You have decided to introduce a graphic design element to your workforce. Simone has worked for you for 3 years in digital marketing and has shown an interest in graphic design. You offered Simone the opportunity to take graphic design courses through the company’s learning budget and in return, she has been able to fill your need for someone who understands graphic design.

SafeWorkforce Support

Do you need support implementing wellbeing support in your business? Our HR experts can help

    • Create a culture where staff feel confident/supported to talk about their mental health – communicate, strategize, invest and have policy – check in! model healthy behaviours.

    • Ensure colleagues are confident in how to have a conversation about mental health – mental health and wellbeing training, have mental health first aiders, ensure policy documents reference mental health support.

    • Offer flexibility and be inclusive – Ask colleagues to be patient and understanding with one another as they adapt. Trust them and assume the best. They are relying on you and will remember how you treated them during times of vulnerability.