Today's workforce is becoming more competitive, driven by the speed of new technology which is slowly replacing many traditional roles within the labour market. As a result, a huge 61% of people in the labour market today believe their jobs are in potential threat from global megatrends.
So what effect does this have on the workforce?
Boston Consulting Group who ran the global survey of labour trends also found that the vast majority of people are overcoming their perceived threat of technology by upskilling, refining and learning new skills to increase their future hiring potential.
In this post, we'll take a deep dive into what upskill means and the different ways you can upskill yourself or your labourforce to remain with a competitive advantage.
What is upskilling?
Upskilling is when someone is willing to adopt new skills for their current position.
You may also have heard of reskilling. This is slightly different to upskilling, in that reskilling is where someone adopts and learns new skills for a completely new and different job.
What are global megatrends and why are they important to understand?
Global megatrends are the forces that operate on a macroeconomic and geostrategic level which shape and change our collective future. Already in a few decades the nature of the labour force has been impacted in profound ways by technology and a more globalized economy.
It’s not surprising that organisations and individuals are recognising the importance of keeping up with these ever changing forces and looking at learning new skills as one option of mitigating the large changes coming our way.
What is upskilling and reskilling?
Definition of upskilling:
From an organisational standpoint upskilling is a learning and development strategy to provide educational and training opportunities for employees to pick up new skills for their role and add value to the company.
Definition of reskilling:
Likewise, reskilling in the context of an organisational point of view is when the company invests resources to provide their employees with new skills for a new position as a way to retain the employee. This is common in the case where a role has become redundant within the organisation.
While we’re mainly pointing out technical skill advancement, it’s important to note that upskilling also includes soft skills such as work ethic, communication, collaboration, and leadership.
Upskill training and development
Over 50% of executives recognise the importance of upskilling, with many of them believing they should replace more than a quarter of their workforce to automation and digitization by 2030.
As we’ve touched upon already, companies are willing to invest their resources into training and development to remain competitive in the business environment. Organisations who are looking at new ways to increase workplace productivity, employee loyalty, company creativity and company growth are finding the results transformative to their organisation.
Why upskilling is important ?
Companies who invest into their employee training and development will have a noticeable return on their investment long term.
Let’s look at the benefits upskilling brings to your organisation.
Employer branding is improved
Organisations who focus on employee development as part of its culture drastically improve their employer branding. With a more attractive employer brand, companies not only attract a better pool of talent, but recruitment time and costs are dramatically reduced.
Employee satisfaction and organisational productivity is increased
By boosting job satisfaction organisations can count on seeing the productivity of the company increase.
This happens for a number of reasons.
- As new skills are learnt, the company has a competitive advantage in the market.
- A competitive advantage leads to increased profits.
- With satisfied employees, employee turnover is reduced and top talent is retained. When turnover is lowered all learned skills and qualifications are kept within the organisation. This means less time and resources are dedicated to making new hires and retraining them all over again.
The Digital Skills Gap is closing
An important skill that almost all recruiters will look out for is technical proficiency. Across the business operation, most roles require their employees to have relevant capabilities and knowledge in digital technology.
This is where upskilling existing older employees is crucial to retain their knowledge and industry expertise while overcoming the adverse effect of their redundancies.
While Millenials and Gen Z are much more proficient across the board in bringing digital talents to an organisation, they also lack in the experience and accumulated knowledge of a veteran employee.
Which leads us onto our next example…
Boosting soft skills
Upskilling employees is essential in not only the hard, technical skills, but also soft skills. Technology advances organisations in many ways, but one thing it does not have the advantage in is the human touch.
Communication, problem solving, critical thinking and networking are all important soft skills that must continue to be taught to employees to have a well-balanced skill set.
How do I Upskill my employees?
Having defined the importance of upskilling and all the benefits that accompany it, the next question might be, “How do I upskill my employees?”
A great first step in this process is to perform a Skills Gap Analysis.
What Is a Skills Gap Analysis?
A company which performs a skills gap analysis has identified their future goals and identified the missing skills gaps in their workforce that would propel their growth in the right direction towards their target.
It will then be the goal of the company to upskill the workforce to fill the need, in order to achieve growth and success.
How to conduct a skills gap analysis
1. Identify the skills your company needs
Firstly you need to review your company goals and create realistic targets of where you want to be. In this process you need to identify important skills needed throughout your organization to achieve these goals.
Ask yourself, “What skills do our employees need to carry out their current and future roles?”
You should even incorporate your employees thoughts and insights on what skills they need to achieve the company goals.
As Stephen R Covey highlights in his book “Seven habits of highly effective people”, trusting and working with your employees on the larger decision making process has positive, company changing results.
Employees who work day in and day out in their area of expertise may have a greater understanding of how to improve their performance than you do. Involving them in these key developmental steps can go a long way to solidifying their loyalty and improving their performance as they feel connected to and responsible for the new company goals and growth.
2. Identify where skills are needed
The next step in conducting your skills gap analysis is to identify where the skills are needed. You can do this on an individual level, or on a team level, depending on the size of your organisation.
For identifying a skills gap analysis on a team level, you should consider the teams combined skills and measure them on their success of a specific project or predicted business needs.
When assessing the skills gaps on an individual level, evaluate the skills of each employee against the requirements of their role.
3. Measure current skills
There are many ways to measure the current skills of your teams. This can be conducted through surveys and assessments, employee interviews, performance reviews, competency frameworks or even Skills management software.
4. Begin your training
Once you’ve found out what skills are lacking, and where these skills can be incorporated you can begin the upskilling process.
There is a breadth of sources available to help you upskill your staff - especially through online courses and educational material.
Online learning tools for organisational upskilling
Onile learning is a preferred upskilling option suited to most organisations.
As well as the minimum disturbance to the workplace, employees are able to learn a huge range of new skills in a cost-effective manner.
Benefits of using online learning tools in the workplace for upskilling
1. Upskill on the job
Employees who have access to online learning platforms can have the flexibility of learning when it is most suitable to the organisation. Instead of investing in expensive off-premise training courses which take employees away from their roles for large blocks of time, online courses can be used as and when necessary. Employees can easily take an hour or two out of their day to learn new skills, while having minimal impact on their day-to-day role.
2. Online learning has a wider range of access to structured learning material.
Instead of being limited to the courses available to you locally, learning online widens the pool of available learning resources, enabling you to upskill your staff with the most suitable resources for your needs.
3. Offer accredited learning material.
Much of the learning material available online is backed up by structured learning bodies with recognised qualifications and accredited bodies.
4. Learn at their own pace
The reality is we all learn at different paces. What may come naturally to some, can be a lot more difficult to others. Upskilling through online learning enables employees to learn at their own pace, ensuring they internalise properly all the new skills learnt.
Upskill meaning - “to teach your employee additional skills”
For your business to grow and succeed, continued learning and development is vital.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) found in their study on ‘Causes and Consequences of Inequality’ that widening income disparity is the defining challenge of the present day!
While technological progress has given rise to the skill premium, the income inequality widens as there’s a decline in various labour market institutions, creating serious implications for macroeconomic growth and stability.
The IMF goes on to conclude that companies need to be aligning the workers interests with shareholders interests, meaning that companies should be investing in the well-being of their staff as part of the pursuit of company success.
They concluded that upskilling your current workforce was the simple answer to bridging the growing skills gap and income inequality so prevalent in today's economy, creating a win-win scenario for company success and employee well-being alike.