Upskilling has become a hot topic in business. With rapid technological advances and an ever-changing workplace, companies must ensure their employees continuously update their skills.
As a business leader, being strategic about upskilling will help your organization stay competitive and your workforce stay relevant. Here is what you need to know:
Definition of Upskilling
Upskilling is a training strategy that provides employees with training so they can develop more advanced skills and prepare to move into more challenging jobs. Upskilling means enabling employees to obtain the skills they need to fill critical positions in a dynamic economy. Many organizations see it as a viable talent management strategy in light of the Great Resignation.
Organizations such as Google, Walmart, Verizon, McDonald’s, and Marriott International have invested billions in upskilling programs to enable employees to improve existing skills, pursue a college degree, and learn new skills, allowing them to move into new job roles or into management positions. They are among the many companies that understand the importance of investing in employee development.
Why Upskilling is Important
The shelf life for skills is shorter than ever before. Technical skills can become obsolete within just a few years. Soft skills like communication and collaboration must also evolve as workplaces change. Investing in upskilling allows your team to:
By definition, upskilling helps workers remain viable and reduces the risk that you will fall behind competitors. Stagnant skills lead to dissatisfaction and higher turnover. Upskilling shows employees you are committed to their growth and makes them more engaged and loyal.
Assessing Talent Gaps
The first step in identifying current and anticipated skills gaps organization-wide is to examine which capabilities are lacking or need improvement to meet strategic goals. You can use performance reviews, employee surveys, training records, and industry trend research to spot priority upskilling areas.
In this case, upskilling means assessing digital skills like analytics, programming, and software. Interpersonal skills like leadership, collaboration, and empathy are also crucial. It is essential to schedule regular check-ins to re-evaluate skills gaps and ensure upskilling stays aligned with objectives as needs evolve.
Defining Upskilling Pathways
With skills gaps mapped, your next step is to work with managers to develop customized upskilling pathways. Define upskilling pathways by outlining the specific skills each employee needs to develop and how to learn them. These methods include:
Pathways should have clearly defined goals and timelines. Employees should also own parts of their learning journey—let them choose subjects they are passionate about mastering.
The final step is measuring and defining upskilling outcomes. This ensures your initiatives are delivering meaningful growth and business impact. Quantitative metrics to track include:
Conduct qualitative assessments by having managers evaluate skill improvements team-wide. Listen to employee feedback on what new skills they have mastered and how they apply them. Adjust programs accordingly to maximize value.
How Upskilling Fuels Business Success
With rapid change ahead, upskilling must become a business imperative. Failing to develop talent can leave your organization stuck in the past. Committing to continuous learning ensures your workforce remains agile, engaged, and ready to capitalize on future opportunities. Defining upskilling goals means building a team that will power your success in the future.
Evaluating and Scaling Upskill Programs
In top organizations, upskilling means continuously measuring progress to assess effectiveness and make decisions. For example, in September 2021, Amazon committed $1.2 billion to providing access to education and skills training programs for 300,000 employees—including college tuition for front-line employees—through 2025.
As part of its Upskilling 2025 initiative, Amazon offers training programs that support Amazon employees as they gain the expertise they need to move into more highly skilled, better-paying, technical and non-technical roles.
Other organizations such as Google, Walmart, Verizon, McDonald’s, and Marriott International have invested billions in upskilling programs that enable employees to improve existing skills, pursue a college degree, and learn new skills. This will allow them to transition into new job roles or management positions. They are among the many companies that understand the importance of investing in employee development.
It is almost impossible to determine if initiatives you have implemented to upskill your employees are working unless you can track staff progress. So, HR leaders should leverage digital industry-leading tools such as the eSkill Talent Assessment PlatformTM to monitor the results.
In today’s fast-changing and uncertain workplace environment, your organization must be able to pivot to adjust to market demands. Assessing your staff’s current and future skills needs and developing employee upskilling programs will future-proof your organization.
Define Upskilling Initiatives for Your Business
Investing in employee upskilling will help your organization build a skilled talent pool and lay the groundwork for workforce development programs that prepare your organization for success.
Do you want to learn how defining upskilling goals can help you future-proof your talent acquisition and employee development strategies? Contact us to request a demo.