What is Upskilling?

With the constant increase in new tech jobs that didn’t exist before and new skills needed, the nature of hiring, training, and working is shifting rapidly in 2019.

But finding and hiring people that have both the requisite tech and business skills can be difficult – and costly – for most companies, large and small. According to a 2017 CareerBuilder survey, nearly 60 percent of U.S. employers have job openings that stay vacant for 12 weeks or longer. The average cost HR managers say they incur for having extended job vacancies is more than $800,000 annually.

If you’re in need of a reorganization of your tech team, you may want to consider upskilling rather than bringing in outside hires. Bridging the tech-talent gap from within your company internally will save you both money and time.

Here is our primer on what upskilling is and how to upskill your workforce.

What is Upskilling About?

Upskilling is the process of learning new skills or teaching workers new skills. Essentially, upskilling happens when companies invest in training programs that help their employees develop new abilities and minimize skill gaps.

In an increasingly digital world, the need for upskilling is great, to close the digital talent gap. A 2016 report from the World Economic Forum stated that by 2020, more than a third of the desired core skill sets of most occupations will be comprised of skills that are not yet considered crucial to the job today.

It’s important to upskill your workforce on a regular basis to maintain relevancy, especially in a digital world.

What are the Benefits of Upskilling?

The benefits of upskilling are twofold. They help employees learn new skills that they didn’t possess before, but they also make a company more attractive to potential job searchers. Three benefits of upskilling include:

  • Saving money on recruiting new employees 

It is frequently less expensive to train existing employees rather than hire new workers that already have the skills you’re looking for at a higher salary. Additionally, it reduces onboarding time at your company.

  • Keeping up with your industry 

No matter what industry you’re in, it’s likely that you’ll need to learn new skills in order to stay on top of your competitors. Training your employees in new skills is a highly effective way to remain competitive and land new clients.

  • Improve employee engagement and retention

The modern workforce expects more from their place of employment than just a salary. Both current and potential employees care about professional development and training opportunities and will look for these kinds of educational offerings when on the job hunt.

Teaching your employees new skills helps them feel better equipped to earn promotions, handle their current responsibilities successfully, and assist in training new hires.

How to Upskill Your Workforce

The first step to upskilling your workplace is to assess the needs of your organization, both from a department/team standpoint and for individuals. Then, you’ll want to set goals for your organization and smaller goals for teams and individuals.

From there, you can take several approaches to implement upskilling within your organization, including:

  • Mentoring and shadowing programs

One of the oft-looked over, but greatest resources you have at your disposal are your own employees! Use your subject matter experts and department heads as mentors for your new hires. Additionally, you could offer cross-departmental shadowing to help educate employees on other parts of your organization.

  • Virtual and online learning resources

Putting together training resources for people to have access to at any time, or for remote employees, is a great solution, especially for large organizations where it’s more difficult to coordinate in-person training sessions.

  • Host lunch-and-learn sessions

For training on topics outside the scope of your current employees’ knowledge, one option is to host lunch-and-learns with experts from outside the company to share their expertise. Plus, everyone loves free food!

  • Create personalized learning plans

Your employees will all be at different levels for different skills, and everyone learns differently and at their own pace. Creating individualized plans will help improve everyone’s competencies where they lack the necessary skills to succeed.

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