How to Build an Effective Upskilling Strategy in the New Normal

upskilling strategy

Upskilling is not only good business sense, but necessary—especially during the pandemic. It’s not just about identifying the skills that will be most valuable in the future. Businesses need these skills and need to know the people who could plausibly gain these skills. It’s also about being prepared, enabling training and technology learning that could help your employees. This post will go over how your business can create an upskilling strategy to help your employees grow.


Upskilling is a long-term strategy:

The industrialized world is facing a skills crisis. On the one hand, automation is threatening many existing jobs. Hundreds of millions of young people around the world are coming of age and finding themselves unemployed and unemployable, while many older, long-established employees are discovering their jobs are becoming obsolete. Many jobs are going unfilled due to a lack of skills in AI and leadership “soft skills.”

With cutbacks due to the pandemic, it is hard to know where upskills are most needed. However, you have to think long-term. Areas such as AI in the financial sectors are not going away anytime soon. Be prepared for long-term strategies by knowing the difference between upskilling and reskilling. Reskilling is geared toward meeting short-term job demand, where retraining is usually the goal. By contrast, upskilling is a comprehensive initiative to convert applicable knowledge into productive results, having employees prepare to move into new jobs and excel at them. It involves identifying the skills that will be most valuable in your future business.


Utilize apps:

There’s an app for that! There really is. “Gamified” apps allow employees throughout the company to build their skills and create new software-based tools for others to use. These targeted apps allow employees to increase the learning of hard skills, but soft skills as well—in a recent survey, soft skills were listed as 65% of what executives were looking for when it comes to growth and future sustainability.


Know what percentage of your business needs to upskill: 

An upskilling program does not need to upgrade skills for the entire workforce at once. In any given year, only 10 percent of a business’s workforce is immediately “in need.” If you target that group and successfully move them into new roles, you create a track record and garner further support. Within five years, moving at the same pace, you can reach close to half of the company’s employees. Focus on developing people, not saving jobs, because not all jobs can or should be saved.


Develop clear metrics:

For any upskill strategy to work, there needs to be clear metrics. Things like having technical and financial assistance to individuals, having a digital platform for communication and self-branding, and having a skills growth and skills inventory index.


Understand how employees learn best:

In surveys conducted by PwC, and Journal for Accountancy, 65% of employees learn best by online and self-directed learning. Then there is team-based learning (which, given the current climate, is done virtually), then you have peer-to-peer, and lastly, on the job. When looking at on the job upskilling, consider things like stretch assignments and consider any safety protocols due to pandemic restrictions.


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