Reskilling and Upskilling as a Strategic Response to New Skill Demands

About half of the global workforce will require reskilling by 2025, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF). Also, according to Gartner’s research, 58% of the workforce will need new skill sets to do their jobs successfully. Jobs and competencies are continually evolving. Therefore, the demand for upskilling and reskilling will continue to grow over the next few years to adapt to digitalization, robotization, automation, and the ensuing skills gaps. As per Gartner’s 2021-2023 emerging technology roadmap survey, IT executives see talent shortage as the most significant adoption barrier to most emerging technologies.

Also, according to Gartner’s research, 58% of the workforce will need new skill sets to do their jobs successfully.

Upskilling and reskilling vs. external hiring

Decision-makers may wonder why they should consider reskilling their staff instead of focusing on employing a new generation of employees who have already invested in learning the new skills required by the company. While new hires have this one advantage, existing employees have many more, making internal talent development a significant, mission-essential goal.

Employees that have worked for a company for a long time have a solid awareness of the company’s needs, clients, customers, and partners. It takes longer to recruit and train new employees than it does to develop new, paradigm-shifting technologies. Moreover, Workable has estimated that it could take up to 8 months for a new employee to become fully productive. Additionally, a study done by ATD, found that companies that offer thorough training had more than twice the amount of income per employee over firms that offered less training. A culture of upskilling and reskilling is thus a key asset that permits the adoption of new technical solutions and innovative business practices for companies that wish to prepare for the future.

As a great example, Global Food Corporation was confronted with issues such as using skills as the foundational core of their personnel processes and as a unit of measurement that would enable them to effectively acquire, manage, and develop their employees in the future. The company has successfully developed an enterprise-wide capability framework and a functional working competency framework. Through the implementation of a reskilling and upskilling strategy, the company has assessed over 500 employees on Enduring Human Capabilities (EHCs) as well as business-specific skills and has established an HR-wide vision and skills integration lab to define the skills journey for the future.

Addressing the skills gap with career pathing

A career pathing program is used to implement both reskilling and upskilling strategies in your company. Successful career pathing strategies are derived from a competency-based approach. This enables your company to examine and assess the precise competencies required for each role, as well as determine the skills development needed for employees transitioning to new positions.

A career path is unique to every employee, it assists employees to attain their long-term career objectives and advance their careers either laterally or through promotion. It necessitates an understanding of the knowledge, skills, and personal characteristics required, as well as the specialized abilities and additional training required to achieve those goals. Career pathing allows companies to:

–       Meet future demand: Identifying the available capabilities enables you to target the development of key skills in your existing workforce to meet future demand.

–       Identify hidden skills: Career pathing empowers your employees to assess their skills, revealing potential the business may not be aware of.

–       Create a culture of talent mobility: Today’s talent looks for employers with a commitment to their future career development. Not only does a career pathing strategy attract talent to your organization, but it also increases motivation and retention levels among your employees.  According to Deloitte, internal talent mobility can boost employee engagement by as much as 30%. Career pathing also creates internal movement, both laterally and vertically, and visibly demonstrates that your organization values its people.

As the speed of digital transformation continues unabated, an effective career pathing strategy is beneficial for both employees and HR and must be a talent imperative for your organization.

Steps to implement an upskilling program in your organization

Upskilling and reskilling are the top priority for learning and development (L&D) professionals globally, according to LinkedIn Learning’s 5th Annual Workplace Learning Report. The report added that 62% of CEOs surveyed in the US now prioritize learning in their organization. There are various strategies for how it could be implemented, EDLIGO shares great insights on the most effective actions to be taken.

1.    Build a competency map for upskilling

Competency mapping is the initial stage in building a competency meter. Skills should be mapped keeping in mind your current employees and the future growth of your organization. Skill mapping will also help quantify the skill set required for a certain job role. However, employee skill aspiration is equally important when it comes to learning new skills. It’s a pull vs push mechanism. If an employee is interested, they’ll be able to learn more and grasp better, resulting in smooth execution of the process.

2.    Measure the effectiveness of the upskilling program

The Kirkpatrick Model is a globally recognized method of evaluating the results of training and learning programs. It assesses both formal and informal training methods and rates them against four levels of criteria:

–       Reaction: The employee’s emotional response to the training. This is done as soon as the training is finished.

–       Learning: How effectively did the employee obtain the information from the training. Have an assessment at the end of one month, two months, or three months to check if the employee still possesses the learning.

–       Behavior: Take 360-degree feedback from the employee’s team to know if the training made any change in the behavior of the employee on a day-to-day basis. Has the employee become more efficient or not?

–       Results: This is determined by the L&D team. They check if the projects are getting implemented more efficiently and if results have become better or not.

Compare the result with the first report of the competency meter. The growth rate will determine the success of the program. This model along with a good feedback and assessment tool in place will help you figure out the exact ROI.

The Kirkpatrick Model has a number of advantages that make it an attractive choice for trainers and other business leaders:

–       Provides clear evaluative steps to follow

–       Works with traditional and digital learning programs

–       Gives HR and business leaders valuable insight into their overall training programs and their impact on business outcomes

3.    Offer an opportunity marketplace to upskilled employees

Once the first phase of your upskilling program is over and employees have gained new skills or built on existing ones, organizations must give the newly upskilled employees the opportunity to apply for internal positions that require these skills. This doesn’t only demonstrate the organization’s commitment to upskilling but further builds employee engagement and organizational resilience to the changes that are inevitably hitting businesses globally this decade.

To discover more about how to upskill and reskill your talent for the future, EDLIGO team has interviewed HR Leaders from different countries about their experiences and opinions.

Here are some great insights:

Gustavo Bulgach

People Analytics Manager at Clip

1.    How did upskilling and reskilling evolve over time?

 When organizations understood the need to train their employees in order to provide them with new competencies, upskilling became fundamental. Training employees became a mandatory requirement for any organization that needed to evolve. Nowadays, taking into account the constant change that organizations and people go through, upskilling does not meet the talent needs we require, and that is why reskilling plays a fundamental role. When recruiters cannot find the necessary profiles in the market, the reskilling of active collaborators covers that need and manages to foster a culture of internal development.

2.    Why are upskilling and reskilling so critical now?

Some profiles are currently in high demand in the market, so organizations are constantly competing to incorporate business-critical profiles. An upskilling and reskilling plan that allows us to develop our employees, generates profiles prepared for the challenges that the organization needs, with the benefit of having performance information.

3.    How are companies making the best use of their upskilling and reskilling investments?

We must use the available data for two purposes. The first is to understand what competencies the organization will need in the coming years, and the second is to know which employees have interest and good performance to reconfigure their knowledge to occupy a strategic position in the organization.

Adam McKinnon

People Data and Analytics Lead at Reece Group

1.    Why are upskilling and reskilling so critical now?

Three reasons why upskilling and reskilling are critical:

–        Only through upskilling and reskilling can employees navigate the increasing rate of innovation (i.e., automation, new jobs) and digital transformation occurring in the professional world.

–        A culture of learning helps to engage and retain talent. Upskilling and reskilling can create a tangible sense of growth among employees, leaving them feeling both satisfied and stimulated and removing the need for employees to look for growth opportunities outside of their current organization.

–        Upskilling and reskilling can enhance employee productivity and in turn customer service.

2.    How are companies making the best use of their upskilling and reskilling investments?

The key characteristic of companies doing upskilling and reskilling well is their use of “Skills Data”. Specifically, using AI to infer skills about staff, the skills required for a role, and the skills acquired when performing different learning and development activities. Through this data, companies can use skills data to inform recruitment and retention activities, project staffing, learning and development, career mapping, strategic (i.e., long-term) and operational (short-term) workforce planning, M&A, onboarding, and offboarding initiatives. Skills data has the potential to greatly benefit both the employee and organization when actively used.

Alexandre Piotrowski

Leader in People Analytics & Insights at Brambles

1.    How did upskilling and reskilling evolve over time?

Upskilling has always been around, but it is the rate we’ve had to upskill that has dramatically changed because of the faster evolution of technology. The pandemic has accelerated the pace of change and has heightened the awareness of the need to upskill. The need itself, however, is universal. Companies are now forced to pivot and do quick and noticeable upskilling to cope with the ever-changing environment. Employees are more aware of globalization and the impact it will have on their current job, leading to increased willingness to pick up new skills to stay (or become) attractive.

2.    Why are upskilling and reskilling so critical now?

Global megatrends greatly impact people’s jobs, and this is only going to accelerate. There is a vital need to upskill and reskill to be attractive and differentiate oneself from the mass. Having a strategy in place to upskill and reskill the workforce allows organizations to adapt to change more dynamically.

Similarly, workers who are adaptable will be able to better navigate the job market. The fact that a number of studies show that more than 40% of the core skills required to perform existing jobs are expected to change give a sense of what is ahead of us.

3.    How are companies making the best use of their upskilling and reskilling investments?

One of the reasons that Companies are investing billions of dollars on upskilling and reskilling is because they can’t find and attract workers with the required skills. Workers meanwhile want to move to better jobs and take the opportunity to grow their profile.

Companies invest to retain their top talents and develop the skills they need by looking at their existing workforce. This gives them a competitive advantage, creates development opportunities, and reduces the need to systematically go external.

 Paloma Lledó Sempere 

Artificial Intelligence, Data Science & Business Analytics at Minsait

1.    How did upskilling and reskilling evolve over time?

Until a few years ago, no one was talking about upskilling or reskilling. Basically, this is because the availability of technologies and variety of projects were much lower. However, thanks to this evolution of technologies, there are others, such as Cobol, that have become obsolete. Therefore, we must take advantage of the talent we have within companies and transform it to meet the new needs of the market. On the other hand, the covid crisis has made reskilling an urgent issue in the last two years due to the lack of profiles that promote digitization in all areas.

2.    Why are upskilling and reskilling so critical now?

Upskilling and reskilling are critical today because in two years the needs of people and companies for products and services have changed radically. The beginning of the pandemic and everything that has been happening since then changed our lives. Confinement, teleworking, avoiding personal contact, and saving time and costs in any way are clear examples of change. Hence, for all these changes to take place, specialized people are needed who can adapt companies to this new world as quickly as possible.

3.    How are companies making the best use of their upskilling and reskilling investments?

Unfortunately, most companies continue to look outside for talent. Most strategies are based on stealing talent and making those most in-demand profiles more expensive without realizing that they very possibly have profiles that can be adapted in a short time to other technologies that are different or similar to the ones they are using. Nevertheless, it is much more effective and economical to invest in training internal talent than to spend on recruitment and tedious selection processes. There are large companies focused on investing in improving the skills of their employees and relying on them for these new projects. In addition, with this strategy, it is possible to create a stronger bond between the company and employees. So that employees will be much more loyal and will stay longer in the company.

In a time, that’s shrouded in uncertainty, upskilling and reskilling show your intention to keep your employees with the organization if possible, making them feel more committed to you as an employer. Moreover, in a fast-changing environment with new technologies and skills arising every year, a targeted and timely upskilling and reskilling strategy can help your organization prepare for the future and become able to meet new demands.

EDLIGO is a comprehensive Talent Analytics solution for data-driven talent management, that addresses these challenges.

  • EDLIGO enables you to identify training needs or areas for improvement for every employee in your company. You can establish a clear, objective, and data-driven map of your people and skills, digitize your competency assessment, create a platform for employees to understand better their competencies, and stimulate a growth mindset
  •  Leveraging EDLIGO Talent Analytics, companies can build essential skills for an organization’s future success through a targeted and timely spend on learning and development.
  • EDLIGO can help you maximize ROI from Learning and Development strategy, reskill and upskill your employees for a competitive edge using recommendations on how skills gaps can be closed in the most efficient way and reinforce continuous learning and a growth mindset.
  • EDLIGO enables organizations to offer a superior employee experience through structured and targeted career devolvement and mobility opportunities (Opportunity Marketplace). Empower your employees through the opportunity marketplace. You can align employees’ career aspirations with business goals, stimulate personal growth, promote talent diversity for improving business outcomes, and boost employee growth and satisfaction with AI-powered talent analytics.

Contact the EDLIGO team or request a demo if you’d like to learn more about how Talent Analytics, reskilling, and upskilling might help your organization achieve higher outcomes using data and AI. 

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