Did you know that in just one years from now, by 2022, more than half of employees surveyed by the World Economic Forum reported they will need notable upskilling and reskilling to remain successful in the global workforce.
Are you prepared?
Having an unprepared workforce around the world will have huge monetary consequences. A recent study from Korn Ferry found that by 2030, the talent shortage across the world will include more than 85 million people and could lead to a loss of $8.5 trillion in annual revenues.
The future of work is being shaped by factors including artificial intelligence and globalization. And the bottom line is that for people and businesses to survive, change is needed. While you’ve almost certainly heard the terms “upskilling” and “reskilling,” these are not just buzzwords. Rather, they are practicable and actionable strategies for the future of work. This blog post will review what these terms mean, how they’re different and why they matter for you and your business.
What’s the Difference?
Upskilling and reskilling both involve learning new skills. However, the motivation or intended outcome is different.
Upskilling involves learning or teaching new skills to advance in a given job or field. For example, a data analyst could upskill to learn a new software program, either independently or offered through their employer, to be more advanced in their position.
Reskilling involves learning or teaching new skills to transition to a new job or field. For example, an accountant could reskill to learn software programs to enter the field of data analytics. Or reskilling can mean an employee is learning new skills to move positions within their current field or organization.
Why These Are Important
Reskilling and upskilling are critical strategies for an evolving workforce. Now, they matter more than ever.
A 2020 survey by McKinsey Global found that more than 40% of companies reported skills gap at present and 87% responded that skills gap is an issue now or anticipated in the coming years (see Figure 1).
COVID – Changing how we work, what we do and the skills we need
The pandemic has unearthed the vulnerabilities, and the opportunities, of the global workforce. COVID-19 has changed the global economy and increased unemployment levels around the world. Through hastening trends such as remote work and automation, as many as 25% more workers than was estimated earlier are facing a possible need to change occupations. With people out of work or working differently, it can be overwhelming to anticipate the next move.
While moments of economic downturn or vulnerability may not intuitively feel like the time to invest in upskilling and reskilling, they most certainly are. Investing in yourself or your workforce increases mobility and builds resiliency in an adapting economy.
One of the strongest ways to build resilience and job security is to add value to business through growing new skills. Upskilling and reskilling workforce to empower employees to reach greater potential in current positions or move into new positions.
An example of reskilling in the face of the pandemic is Scandinavian Airlines. With early understanding that the travel industry would be harshly affected and retrained cabin staff to become assistant nurses. Because the staff transitioned to a new field of work, while taking advantage of overlapping skills, this is an example of reskilling rather than upskilling.
Improve retention & Attract new talent
Through increased introduction and use of technology in the workplace across sectors, the types of skills needed, including soft skills and technical skills. Employers will be looking for candidates who have specific and specialized skills. Through engaging upskilling for employees, companies and organizations can retain if they retrain.
Some companies are leading the way with large-scale upskilling and retraining efforts. PricewaterhouseCooper (PwC), will be investing $3 billion to provide training, education, expanding digital training tools and more for their workforce.
Bob Moritz, global chairman at PwC, was quoted by Business Insider explaining that the investment effort, known as “New World, New Skills”, is to keep the company as a “talent magnet.”
Reskilling and upskilling help to create pathways to growth and career trajectories. This demonstrates that your organization values internal mobility and, in turn, values people. This will help to attract talent.
Creating or supporting learning and training opportunities not only keeps employees as part of the team but supports individual and collective growth.
Increase Productivity & Performance Enablement
Benefits of upskilling, which lead to increased productivity, include improving communication and self-esteem while strengthening core values by keeping employees connected with the organization.
Investing in the workforce helps to support loyalty and motivate productivity, particularly as the workforce feels well-prepared and well-suited for their position. Increased preparedness can help employees to feel empowered.
According to Gallup, employees in the top quartile of engagement are more productive, healthier and demonstrate 21% higher profitability. So, a well-supported workforce is a strong workforce.
How To Strategically Use Upskilling and Reskilling
Given the benefits, incorporating upskilling and reskilling into personal and business strategies are worth it. Whether through an official program or case-by-case approach, there are several aspects to consider when developing an upskilling and reskilling plan.
Some tips to help you get started in the process include:
Understand where you are and where you’re going
Consider the current positions and requirements in your workplace and then consider what future positions and requirements will be. Specifically identify and name the gaps in the current workforce or positions where skills and role are not well aligned.
Build a strategy
Using what you identified, create a strategic plan to address skills gaps. If you have existing skilling strategies, review these, or start anew. Build a pathway to improve the success of trajectories to growth, training and learning programs.
Integrate reskilling and upskilling into attitudes and approaches
Work culture involves the physical and mental atmosphere of the workplace, including attitudes and relationships. Growth through upskilling and reskilling can be integrated into the work culture, from the ground up. Foster a cultural transformation where continuous learning, training, upskilling and reskilling is not only available but fully supported.
Growth is not linear, nor is it static. Continually evaluate how skilling programs are working, including developing measurable benchmarks and metrics to check progress. Regularly keep an eye on the horizon of which skills and positions to anticipate and prepare for.
Digital Tools to support new skills
One of the main goals and benefits of upskilling and reskilling is making the work experience better for employees, through reducing time spent being unprepared or unproductive. Technology is a large driver of the skills gap, and also a key avenue to reduce this gap.
For example, OnScreen is a tool to support the use of SAP or other Enterprise applications by addressing common training hassles. OnScreen allows you to create easy to understand and customized instructions that guide users through tasks and business processes.
Accelerating and simplifying the time to adjust to new applications and master existing ones requires addressing any skills gaps the users may have. Digital adoption helps to support smooth transitions for job functions.
So, whether you want to advance with your current profession or move into a new space, upskilling and reskilling are great tools. They have value for organizations individually and working together, allowing for a better prepared, better supported and more productive team.
Upskilling and reskilling increase your chances for success in a changing global economy. Creating a work culture that supports continuous learning and intentionally develops a specific plan to implement and measure these practices. This will help to retain and attract talent while increasing capacity and empowering employees to do and be their best.
Technology platforms and digital tools can help to support the learning use of new skills, including many which make commonplace business practices easier. What skills will you begin to learn or teach to prepare for the workforce of tomorrow?