Upskilling is the process of acquiring new and relevant knowledge needed now and in the near future. In its most basic form, upskilling or ‘reskilling’ as some call it, is the process of advancing one’s professional skills through education and training. Digital Marketing, Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics are few examples of popular knowledge areas people are looking to improve or upskill.
The continuous development of human capital is becoming more important than ever and is a major competitive edge for smart businesses. Often, companies address this need with more hiring or outsourcing practices while leaving behind upskilling or professional development opportunities on the table. Investments in learning and development can directly impact and transform workforces. Most recently, the need for upskilling has become even more relevant in the post pandemic world.
Let’s dig in…
Upskilling has significant benefits
By reskilling or upskilling, employees can fill critical skill gaps, improve their work productivity and enjoy better job security. However, upskilling significantly benefits businesses themselves, by offering:
Cost efficiencies: Upskilling programs are almost always a smaller investment than hiring or outsourcing. In fact, by compounding the knowledge of teams versus piecemealing specialists, companies can remain agile with lower overheads.
Better morale and team effectiveness: Upskilling the workforce helps employees stay updated with most relevant and business-critical knowledge. This in turn leads to job satisfaction, a better sense of purpose and much stronger team culture. So as you reskill your employees, you also create a more well-rounded, cross-trained workforce, and increase your team’s overall effectiveness.
Higher retention and access to better talent: Based on a recent study, employees care about their professional growth and list “opportunities for learning and development” among the top criteria for joining an organization. Conversely, a lack of learning and development is one of the key reasons people cite for leaving a company. Purpose driven employees become stronger brand advocates and help attract a wider pool of diverse talent.
Current trends are accelerating the need for investments in workforce upskilling
Technology’s explosive growth continues. 2020 was a pivotal year in many ways, with advancements in technology, a plethora of new digital tools and applications and a significant increase in reliance on digital connectivity. These changes have led to a shorter shelf life for digital knowledge and place a premium on reskilling and upskilling. For example, Martech tools alone saw a 13.6% growth or 1,575 new solutions emerged. With this explosive growth, marketers want easy to use tools that offer greater utilization and faster adoption by teams (2020 survey).
Remote work is here to stay: Digital connectivity and an emphasis on easier ways to leverage technology also plays into the larger theme of remote work. According to Gartner, 82% of business leaders plan to maintain a partial work-from-home structure even after COVID-19 is no longer a threat. Mark Zuckerberg announced that he expects roughly 50% of Facebook’s employees to be working remotely in the next 5 to 10 years. With distributed workforces becoming more mainstream, employers must find new approaches to support the remote worker.
Global workforce needs are evolving: Employees are driven by work flexibility and holistic personal and professional growth now more than ever.
With this shift to a digital, knowledge-based economy and more distributed working environments for even small and mid-sized businesses, companies need to adapt programs to their workforces’ changing needs to safeguard human capital and team effectiveness.
In summary, regardless of industry, recent trends are making reskilling more of a necessity for businesses to remain competitive. Smart businesses must look for innovative approaches to upskilling their more distributed workforces. Upskilling or reskilling can be offered in many ways including continued online learning training, microlearning for skills development, job rotation, coaching programs, and peer mentoring, just to name a few.
We look forward to digging into emerging upskilling approaches in our next article and how we are building Hopps to make this easier than ever.