Businesses need skilled talent to meet market demands. That’s a condition unlikely to change. But as market circumstances, technologies and organizational requirements evolve, in-demand skills will do the same. Throughout history, forces such as globalization have reshaped most employees’ jobs. Technology, including AI, stands to revolutionize those positions even more.
Soon, some jobs may no longer exist, while many will look different than they do now. Other roles companies haven’t dreamed up yet will be necessary. These are solid reasons businesses can’t afford to grow complacent. Fortunately, leaders have two highly effective talent development tools available to them: upskilling and reskilling.
Upskilling and reskilling employees prepare companies for the changes happening now. These activities also get businesses ready to handle fast-approaching developments, which may require more agility. As businesses plan for shifts in talent needs, several factors will make upskilling and reskilling essential in 2023.
Key Differences Between Upskilling and Reskilling
While there is some correlation between the two approaches, upskilling differs from reskilling in that it doesn’t seek to move someone into a new role. Upskilling enhances an employee’s existing abilities by teaching them new tricks of the trade. A position may require brand-new knowledge, but there’s still a business need for it. An example of upskilling is an IT tech who takes certification courses on newly released software.
In contrast, reskilling prepares current workers for different roles. The positions they’ve been doing for several years might be on their way out. While there’s no longer a market demand for the employees’ existing skills, the business doesn’t want to replace them. Instead, the company can train these workers to embark on altered career paths.
The emergence of artificial intelligence is one clear driver of this phenomenon. Say AI will eliminate receptionist jobs in the next few years. HR departments could identify employees in receptionist positions and offer to prepare them for various customer service specialist roles. The training these workers receive equips them with the skills they require to transition. Reskilling doesn’t simply build on existing abilities but may augment transferable ones.
The Benefits of Upskilling
Many managers believe talent walks out the door because of money. Although they’re not necessarily wrong about that, low pay isn’t the only contributing factor. A lack of career growth is one of the main drivers of turnover in organizations, regardless of industry. Employees don’t want to feel stuck in a dead-end job. They want to be challenged, take on stretch assignments and advance in their careers.
Advancement doesn’t always mean ascending to management. Bumping an employee to a senior specialist role with new responsibilities can keep them committed to the organization. Upskilling is a way to give workers the learning opportunities they crave. It also builds an internal talent pipeline, saving the company from having to find external candidates for senior positions.
When employees see a business investing in their career growth, it can boost productivity. Learning opportunities tend to increase job satisfaction, which leads to better outcomes. And the improved skill sets themselves contribute to more desirable business results.
The Benefits of Reskilling
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development predicts technology will transform 1.1 billion jobs over the next decade. AI and machine learning will be behind many of these changes. The shift to green tech and the pandemic’s aftershocks will also play a role. Business leaders will likely face widening skill gaps if they don’t implement reskilling programs.
There may be more than shortages between available workers and open positions to worry about. Disparities in the skills roles demand and the knowledge employees have could create additional problems. Staff members won’t be proficient enough to transition into roles businesses need to function. And finding skilled talent outside the organization will become more expensive than it is today.
Reskilling shows that leaders are thinking about the future. Once a role becomes irrelevant or redundant, it’s an unnecessary expense. Staff members who hear rumors of downsizing are more likely to jump ship. Those who stay may grow increasingly dissatisfied as their roles lose meaning, making it challenging for the business to remain competitive. When companies prepare employees for what’s coming, they can avoid layoffs, voluntary departures and loss of morale and productivity among employees who stay.
The ability to adapt to change is what allows companies to survive. Better still, getting ahead of the curve also increases a business’s chances of thriving. While not every leader is good at innovation, nearly everyone can analyze trends and developments. Without resource shifts, pivoting business models to meet emerging realities is nearly impossible.
Upskilling and reskilling programs make human resources more versatile. The person who excels at providing routine client support can learn to extend those skills to the growing backlog of complex requests. Likewise, companies in declining industries can reshape themselves for up-and-coming sectors, such as green energy.
When a business is agile, the risk of its becoming a forgotten name declines. When staff members have up-to-date skills, companies don’t have to worry about how they’ll meet market demands. Businesses gain the ability to save costs through different work models, such as remote teamwork. And employees with well-rounded capabilities can step into new or expanded roles in less time.
The Business Case for Skills Development
Without talented staff, a company is just an entity on paper. It takes people to develop client relationships, manage technologies and achieve growth objectives. But as the business world changes, employees require skills training to keep up with the times. Without sufficient learning opportunities, workers and the businesses employing them run the risk of becoming obsolete.
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