Upskilling and reskilling employees are constant requirements in today's rapidly changing workforce environment.
This article was first published on September 7, 2023, by HR Daily Advisor, a sibling publication to HealthLeaders.
Reskilling and upskilling are terms that refer to workforce development and employee training efforts designed to ensure employees are capable and competent to achieve job objectives. While similar, the two terms are different.
Difference Between Reskilling and Upskilling
Reskilling is the process of training employees in new skills that are entirely different from the skills they’re currently using.
Upskilling is the process of improving or expanding existing skills.
Both involve training and development activities designed to enhance proficiencies and productivity.
The Benefits of Reskilling
While upskilling helps employees develop higher-level competencies that may allow them to move into more responsible roles, reskilling teaches them new skills they need—in some cases, because their current job is being eliminated or replaced by technology.
Reskilling ensures employee adaptability and helps future-proof the organization. It also aids in retention. After all, even if employees’ skills have become outdated for their current role, their knowledge and experience with the company are still valuable. It’s costly to recruit and retain new employees, but if existing employees can be reskilled to meet company needs, that’s a win-win for both the company and the employees.
The best practices for reskilling employees are the same as for upskilling. Both involve:
- Aligning training and development activities with organizational goals and strategic objectives;
- Continually assessing individual employee needs—in this case, gaps between current competencies and required competencies to remain effective and productive in their jobs;
- Providing diverse learning opportunities;
- Setting clear goals; and
- Rewarding and recognizing achievements.
Because reskilling has a somewhat more negative connotation than upskilling, it’s also important to provide ongoing communication and support to employees whose current skills don’t meet organizational needs. It’s important to ensure they understand that the company wishes to keep them on board, values their contributions, and is committed to providing them with the knowledge, skills, and aptitudes to help them succeed in the organization.
The good news for employers is that employees are increasingly interested in reskilling to remain competitive in a constantly changing job environment. In fact, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 68% of workers say they’re willing to retrain in any situation—28% are willing to retrain if necessary.
Upskilling and reskilling are constant requirements in today’s rapidly changing environment. What steps are you taking to ensure employees are committed to strengthening or gaining the skills needed to help your organization succeed?
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