Upskilling is more than just a buzzword. If companies don’t start teaching their employees to learn new skills, they could be overtaken by the competition. Sooner than later, employers will have to adapt to new technology to deal with the growing digital skills gap. McKinsey Global Institute predicts by 2030 nearly 14% of the workforce will have to change careers because of automation and artificial intelligence. Giving employees learning opportunities now will prepare both them and your company for the future.
What is Upskilling?
Upskilling is ongoing learning and development that increases an employee’s skills and abilities. According to SHRM, companies are training their current employees to develop skills to meet the changing demands of their jobs. This type of training includes instructor-led training, on-the-job training or online training. While upskilling benefits the company, and allows it to compete in the future, it also benefits workers by setting them up for promotions and better positions. By 2022, 54% of all employees will require significant upskilling, according to the World Economic Forum.
Why You Need to Upskill Employees
Even with unemployment rates on the rise due to COVID-19, the task of finding qualified candidates still exists. Prior to the pandemic, companies were struggling to acquire talent to fill in-demand positions. According to SHRM, employers couldn’t use recruiting to attract candidates with the skills they required so they turned to offering learning opportunities to the ones they already had. Consider how companies like AT&T spend about $200 million a year on training for its 250,000 workers. Employers are investing in upskilling existing workers instead of finding new workers to fill evolving roles.
Upskilling your existing workers also saves the expense of hiring new ones. SHRM conducted a survey a couple of years ago that found the average cost-per-hire is $4,129, while the average time it takes to fill a given position is 42 days. Combine these calculations with the number of positions you need to fill, and your hiring costs can quickly skyrocket.
There are several other benefits of upskilling programs, specifically for your workers.
Benefits of Upskilling Programs
Not only do learning opportunities improve overall business performance but they enhance your employees’ experience, leading to increased engagement, retention and overall happiness.
- Improved Engagement. Giving your employees the chance to improve their skills through development helps them do their jobs better. Enhanced skill sets allow them to reach their personal performance goals, balance their workload and overall grow in their positions. When employees are confident they can do their job, their engagement is increased.
- Improved Morale. Developing a plan to formally train your employees makes them feel valued, which improves their morale while at work. Valued employees will be loyal to your company because they will feel you’ve invested in them, even if other opportunities present themselves.
- Improved Retention Rates. Offering employee development is something more of your workers are demanding. One in four baby boomers and gen X employees, and nearly half of millennials, say they’d leave their current jobs for one that offered professional development, according to Gallup. Employees who feel like they have a future with your company will be less likely to look elsewhere for employment.
Reskilling vs. Upskilling
A development plan can either reskill your current employees or upskill them; there is a difference.
- Reskilling constitutes training an employee for a completely new occupation, according to Management Concepts. For example, in manufacturing, you may have a worker who runs a machine but has an aptitude for a time study or safety position. That worker may need to be reskilled to perform the new tasks. This can include improving technical skills to use computer software to track times or build safety presentations.
- Upskilling, on the other hand, trains employees to improve their current performance. With digital technology quickly outpacing education, workers will need training to keep up with new tools and software that will be necessary to do their jobs in the future. Consider how far computer programming or even HR software has evolved in the last decade. Upskilling ensures your workers will be able to evolve right along with their positions.
The Skills Gap Problem
Upskilling also addresses skills gaps that can exist in any business. A skills gap occurs when an employer wants or needs something that its employees aren’t able to do, according to Forbes. It can be explained by a combination of factors:
- Lack of Trained Candidates: There simply aren’t enough graduates from programs to support construction, healthcare or manufacturing industries.
- Lack of Soft Skills: Even if technical skills are present, many workers lack the qualities or soft skills that make them great employees and leaders. Soft skills include communication, creativity, critical thinking and collaboration.
- Narrow Candidate Searching: Many employers look to automated job matching programs where they list out specific qualifications. In some cases, these factors are too narrow and don’t pull in many candidates.
Training is the answer to closing any skills gaps but research has found many employers aren’t using it for upskilling. Sixty-three percent of HR professionals say their organizations haven’t equipped managers with upskilling resources.
How to Create an Upskilling or Employee Development Program
Once you identify which skills gaps exist at your company, you can begin to develop an upskilling or employee development plan. Learning management software enables organizations to capture, create, manage and share company and employee knowledge. It allows companies to upload custom content for a variety of upskilling strategies.
- Managing certifications. Certifications provide proof an employee has reached the next level in their training. Beyond that, many industries, like construction and healthcare, require workers to possess certain certifications to work safely on the job. Learning management software, like that offered by BirdDogHR, an Arcoro company, simplifies record-keeping so you never fall behind on compliance requirements or business goals. Certifications can be easily accessed via a mobile device.
- Act on performance goals. Learning management software works in tandem with performance management to help employees complete their career goals. Working with managers, employees can set goals on how they can improve their performance and many times training is the answer. A robust learning management program allows companies to upload custom content so their employees have exactly what they need to grow at their fingertips.
- Learn anytime. Completely mobile and cloud-based, a learning management system allows employees to train any time from anywhere. Build-in time for employee learning opportunities at work or allow employees to do it on their own time.
- Offer a variety of learning options. Learning management doesn’t just have to be boring. Virtual and online courses, instructor-led training and on-the-job training can all be tracked with learning management software.
- Get co-workers involved. Another way to upskill employees is through mentoring or job shadowing. Mentoring provides realistic goals as well as a window for completing them. This increases the transparency about job roles, encourages communication between employers and employees and helps everyone to align with company goals and culture more easily.
Developing an upskilling plan isn’t a matter of if but when. Partnering with BirdDogHR now can help you get ahead of changing technology and the competition. Learn more about engaging and upskilling employees from an expert. Schedule time to talk with a BirdDogHR expert for free to learn how to create a culture of continuous learning.