Posted by Karen Merkel ● April 12, 2022

Reskilling & Upskilling: 3 Biggest Reasons Your Company Should Care Right Now

Reskilling & UpskillingReskilling and upskilling initiatives have never been more important. External forces—from automation to the pandemic—are changing what work means and how it gets done.

According to last year's LinkedIn Learning Report, upskilling and reskilling are the top priorities for L&D pros globally. There is an urgent need for workers to learn new skills to take on a different job (reskilling) or to learn new skills to address a talent gap in their current field (upskilling).

When you think of reskilling and upskilling initiatives, they are usually in reaction to an outside shift. There is a perceived skill gap or an emergent need that your company must address to remain competitive. Companies live and die on their ability to react to these forces. So, you go about creating training to prepare your employees to take on more responsibilities or shift jobs.

But while a reactive approach to reskilling and upskilling is still valid, today’s organizations must be more proactive. Here’s why.

3 Reasons Why Reskilling & Upskilling Should be at the Forefront of L&D

Here are the reasons why upskilling and reskilling initiatives should be a part of a larger development strategy for your employees—not just a reaction to the conditions of the day.

#1) Doing business is more complex than ever.

The first and foremost reason you need to have a proactive approach to reskilling and upskilling is that work conditions are constantly changing. Work is more complex, done at a faster pace, and all in a more fluid environment.

Job Complexity

Today’s jobs demand both deeply specialized skills and broad knowledge. Employees must stay up to date with new technology and changing processes all while still getting the day-to-day tasks done well. Upskilling and reskilling programs are essential to giving them the skills to succeed.

Pace of Change

If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times. Everything is changing faster and more frequently than ever before. That creates new challenges for your employees each day. Empowering them with the skills to handle that change is critical to your entire company’s ability to shift and reprioritize.

Remote and Hybrid Work

The pandemic forced office workers to work from home at the drop of a hat. Now that we’re emerging from those early lock-down days, we’re finding a lot of people enjoyed the flexibility of working from home. As a result, fully remote and hybrid work environments are the norm. Make sure your employees are fully prepared to navigate a digital environment as well as the changes that come with it.

#2) Workplace demographics are shifting.

The demographics of the workforce are changing drastically. The baby boomer generation is starting to retire in record numbers. And as they’re exiting, they’re taking a valuable resource with them—institutional knowledge. It’s important to have an upskilling plan in place so your new employees can get up to speed quickly to fill this knowledge gap.

Another factor that’s influencing this demographic shift is the growing diversity of the workplace. Having a diverse team brings new ideas and perspectives that can lead to greater success for your company. But fostering a workplace culture that encourages inclusion and belonging, along with diversity is easier said than done. Having a proper diversity, equity, and inclusion training plan can help facilitate that change and make sure that everyone on your team feels valued and included.

#3) Retaining talent should be a top priority.

In the Great Reshuffle, more people are leaving their jobs for greater prospects or a career change that better reflects their ideals. While the scale of this job shuffling is greater than ever before, the reasons for it haven’t changed. They’ve only become magnified.

People leave managers, not companies. People also leave when they feel like their skills aren’t valued or invested in. It’s important to show managers and employees that you value their skills and care about improving them.

Let’s face it. It’s expensive to hire and onboard new employees. Upskilling initiatives are a great way to ensure that you’re filling talent gaps and keeping your employees happy and engaged. It also creates a culture of learning that’s essential to any company’s ability to pivot when the time calls for it.

Start with Soft Skills

If you’re looking for a place to start an upskilling initiative, start with soft skills. These are skills like the ability to communicate, lead teams, foster productive relationships, research ever-shifting trends, and react to changing conditions.

Ensuring your workers can handle and thrive in a changing environment is crucial no matter what that change is. Soft skills are your Swiss army knife.

The Importance of Change Management and Communication

Lastly, when looking to create a reskilling or upskilling plan, don’t forget about change management and proper communication of the plan. Change and the unknown can be frightening when jobs and livelihoods are involved.

The best thing you can do to ensure your upskilling or reskilling program is successful and that the changes and skill are adopted is to be up front. Communicate the intent of your upskilling plan, including what skills it will teach, how it will affect your employees’ jobs and the impact their roles will have on the company moving forward.

Conclusion – Upskilling and Reskilling Help You Stay Ready

Putting together a one, three, or even five-year plan requires that you also consider the issues you could face in that time. In most cases, that’s difficult to do with any kind of concrete accuracy. Reskilling and upskilling initiatives can help you address the changes and skills gaps ahead of time. For everything else, make sure your employees have the soft skills and the resiliency to handle what comes next.

Topics: Change Management, Leadership Development, Training and Facilitation, Learning Strategy, Working Remotely