By David Reichard
At a time when the “future of work” is not a distant event anymore, technology transformations are creating a notable skills gap.
Several industry giants such as AT&T and Amazon have already pledged to invest more than $500 million in upskilling and reskilling training programs for employees including in the areas of project management, leadership, functional knowledge and creativity.
With the power to create immediate change, now is the time for corporate leaders to begin investing in upskilling their top-level candidates.
What is Upskilling?
Upskilling and reskilling are often used interchangeably, but they differ in meaning. Upskilling refers to the process of teaching existing employees new skills to perform their current jobs better, whereas reskilling is about learning new skills for a different or new position.
A Pew Research Center survey reveals that almost 87% of the American workforce feels the need for continual advancement opportunities to give them a better chance to attain success in their careers. With the growing demand for automated solutions in every industry, teaching new skills to your employees is no longer an added perk but a business necessity.
Digital upskilling in particular is key for helping drive the digital, technological and data agendas of a company, while also helping employees ensure their own future value and relevance to the organization.
Strong Need for Upskilling in IT, Finance and Accounting Fields
Rapid changes in the nature of work due to digital innovation are making certain skillsets vital to the ongoing health of organizations, especially in the IT, finance and accounting fields. As the use of Artificial Intelligence is becoming the new normal for businesses, future-fit employees bring more value.
Predictive and quantitative analysis, data science, compliance reporting, leadership communication and negotiating are a few necessary skills that employees in these fields are advised to learn in the current labor market.
How Upskilling Offers You and Your Employees Dual-Benefits
Organizations and workplace leaders who are dealing with skills gaps can benefit from providing their employees with educational opportunities and upskilling initiatives. Beyond the obvious benefits of employers filling needs, here are some added benefits of upskilling for both employers and employees:
- Training Boosts Morale. Upskill training and development helps your employees with career advancement which fosters a positive outlook on their future relationship with your company. As your upskilled workforce feels a sense of purpose, your business will enjoy more success and your efforts will help you attract a vast, diverse pool of new talent when it is time to expand the team.
- L&D Programs Guarantee ROIs. No doubt, Learning & Development (L&D) programs cost money, but they also bring substantial returns. Per reports, the global health services company Cigna Corporation’s Educational Reimbursement Program (ERP) provided employee tuition assistance worth millions of dollars that resulted in 129% returns. In turn, executives that finished the upskilling program received a 43% increase in average wage gains.
- Employees Keep Up with the Trends. Neither new talent nor experienced professionals wish to remain stagnant with respect to changing industry trends. Employees’ expectations are fulfilled when they are provided serious learning opportunities. A happy workforce that stays professionally relevant and knowledgeable implies a satisfied clientele that can turn into strong advocates for your brand.
Upskilling Options for the Modern Workplace
- Mentorship Events: Upskilling your workforce involves motivating your employees to find guidance. While you may have your hands full with other areas of work, it is easy to connect your employees with other respected industry experts who can help them face their learning challenges.
- Soft Skills Training: Good communication is a key to success in any industry. At a time when even the chatbots are learning to process the nuances of human conversational style, there is a growing need for soft skills training for employees and business leaders alike.
- Virtual and Bite-Sized Learning: Given the rise of employees working remotely, on-site training may not be possible, which brings you to the next option: virtual learning. Immersive and dynamic training software lets participants take several courses online or even specific portions of certain subjects within a short period of time.
- Cross-Training: Cross-training helps employees to be able to handle multiple roles, if necessary. Not only does this bring them a more comprehensive skill set, but it also helps them improve empathy and understand other departments.
- Self-Directed Learning: The employer usually provides the L&D initiatives, but you can encourage your top-level team members to improve their skills by joining a specified suite of courses in their free time.