What is upskilling?

Travis Good
October 19, 2021

Your employees have the power to make or break your company’s success. You must take advantage of everyone’s strengths if you want a workforce that will go above and beyond. While many companies reach for traditional training methods, upskilling, a new form of training, is often a better alternative.

Many executive-level professionals agree that the availability of critical skills is one of the top threats to businesses worldwide. These same execs are also looking for ways to attract and retain top talent in new and innovative ways. The development of an upskilling program accomplishes both of these objectives.

We’ll look at how upskilling works, why it’s better than training, and how you can implement a program in your organization.

What Is Upskilling?

Jobs are changing at a rapid pace. Upskilling is a training process that teaches your employees new and relevant skills that they will need now and in the future. While technological progress opens up numerous business opportunities, it also creates skill gaps.

Many organizations cannot keep up with the pace of technology due to this fundamental skill mismatch. The good news is that upskilling can help businesses combat this problem while retaining their current workforce.

Upskilling Versus Training

One of the most efficient ways to build company skills is through employee training. Upskilling, however, is more than just training. It’s all about preparing your employees for a world that’s becoming increasingly digital by improving their skills. With the rapid shift to remote and hybrid work, preparing employees for success in this new present future is more important than ever.

Why Upskilling Is Important

Organizations of all shapes and sizes can benefit significantly from upskilling through training. Effective upskilling will speed up innovation, boost productivity, and strengthen a company’s culture.

If you’re still not convinced, consider the following reasons why your company should prioritize upskilling:

Benefit 1. Recruiting New Employees

Learning and development opportunities appeal to job seekers looking to expand their skill sets and advance their careers. As a result, providing opportunities for upskilling will give you access to a larger talent pool when recruiting. From fresh college grads to seasoned professionals, your upskilling program will definitely be an upsell!

Benefit 2. Retaining Key Personnel

Upskilling will not only help your company attract new talent, but it will also help you retain your best employees with extensive skills and experience. In business, losing your best employees to your competitors is never a good thing. An upskilling program signals to these employees that you want to perform optimally and invest in their future.

Benefit 3. Improved Customer Satisfaction

Employees can influence customers. If you have a lot of disgruntled employees, your customers will have a negative impression of your company. Providing opportunities for employees to learn and upskill keeps them engaged in their jobs and empowering them to provide better service to your clients.

Planning Tips for Upskilling at Your Company

It’s essential to devise a strategic plan to create a robust upskilling program in your organization. Doing so will assist you in gaining support from the organization’s leadership and the employees themselves. Take a systematic approach and cover all your bases.

Here are a four considerations to make before you implement upskilling:

Tip 1. Create Personal Development Plans

Encourage employees to create a personal plan that includes skills they want to learn and competencies upon which they wish to improve. The success of your upskilling training program hinges on giving your employees the freedom to devise their strategies. Employees can identify skills and competencies that interest them rather than being told what they need to learn.

Tip 2. Routinely Offer Upskilling

Allow time for employees to upskill during the workday after they’ve created their development plans. Maybe one of your employees wants to take a communication course. Allow them to leave early for class or give them time and a quiet space to complete the course online.

Tip 3. Provide Job-Specific Opportunities

To improve your employees’ current skills, provide them with job-specific upskilling training. Consider providing credentialing and certification programs, which are training programs that lead to a professional certificate. For example, you might have help desk people on your team who could benefit from an intensive IT program certification.

Tip 4. Budget Properly

When budgeting for upskilling, consider the all around costs. Of course, you’ll have to budget for communication tools, training resources, and man hours. However, don’t forget to consider the pre-planning costs as well.

You’ll also need to maintain your upskilling program over the short- and long-term so that it stays current. 

Tactics for Implementing Upskilling at Your Company

There are several modes of communication available when implementing upskilling at your company. The method you choose ultimately depends on the best culture fit for your company.

Here are the five options currently available for upskilling your internal team:

Option 1. In-Person Instruction

Upskilling training can be done in a classroom setting, though this is increasingly less and less relevant as work shifts to remote. 

Option 2. Virtual Instruction

If employees are dispersed across the globe, companies with a global workforce can virtually upskill their remote workforce. Tooling doesn’t have to be hard - simple tools like Loom work well for quick video lessons.

Quick plug - Haekka works for this as well, enabling you to deliver training (videos, text, quizzes, etc.)  to employees in Slack. We also track all of this so you have metrics around completion and retention.

Option 3. Microlearning

Creating web-based microlearning units is another effective way to upskill employees. They take five- to ten-minute web-based training modules that cover a topic. 

The training department could develop a soft skills micro-learning program that teaches employees how to interact with customers positively. Employees could improve their skills by participating in microlearning units that interest them during their short workday breaks.

Another plug, Haekka is used by customers to deliver micro-learning in Slack.

Option 4. Mentorship Programs

Participate in a mentorship or SME program with some of your best employees. Provide them opportunities that hone their leadership skills through mentorship. Experts are invaluable in upskilling training programs because they can answer questions and practically explain complex processes.

You can also enlist the help of mentors to create e-learning content for complete micro-learning programs. They can provide input and feedback that helps you create an upskilling program with a competitive edge. Your employees will have reassurance in knowing that they are receiving up-to-the minute advice that enhances their careers.

Option 5. Paid Content Platform

There are now countless training content platforms like PluralSight and Udemy. These platforms provide catalogs of immersive content.

Final Thoughts and Considerations

Upskilling has numerous benefits, ranging from improved employee motivation to cost savings for the company. It also doesn’t have to be expensive. Begin by identifying knowledge gaps among your current employees.

Allow them to chart their career path and then provide the time and resources to assist them in achieving their objectives. You can give upskilling training in various settings, including a virtual classroom or even Slack.. Take the time to invest in employee upskilling so that they stay with you and contribute to the growth and success of your company.