This year, Organizational Learning departments are facing a crucial challenge: closing the widening skills gap in the current workforce. The good news is that this challenge comes with a great opportunity: Upskilling, a practice that has become one of the most important for companies.
Upskilling not only helps retain qualified employees but also helps keep them motivated and up-to-date to face an increasingly changing environment. If you're interested in learning more about how this tool can help your organization succeed, keep reading.
What is Upskilling?
Upskilling is the process of providing training opportunities to employees in the company so that they can develop new skills or strengthen existing ones. This can be to improve their overall performance at work or to provide them with a specific skill needed for a particular task or project.
It's important to note that Upskilling doesn't necessarily involve a change in role, but rather focuses on providing tools and knowledge to perform the current job more effectively and efficiently. This practice is especially useful for helping workers adapt to changes in the industry and stay updated in their field of expertise.
Upskilling is implemented in situations such as:
- Helping workers succeed in their current job
- Helping the workforce adapt to new changes in the industry
- Implementing new programs and/or platforms
- Helping the workforce stay confident and knowledgeable in their field of expertise, even as that field changes and develops.
According to the Future of Jobs report from the World Economic Forum, it is expected that half of the workers will need to improve their skills by 2025, with 40% of them needing to do so in six months or less.
Read on to discover how to effectively implement an effective upskilling plan in your organization to ensure that your employees are always prepared for the challenges and opportunities of the future.
1- Conduct a skills gap analysis
Industries are changing rapidly, as are the skills necessary to stay on top of the game. It's important to consider skills that may be necessary for the future but don't yet exist.
Therefore, companies need to adapt to the fast pace of change to stay competitive in their industries. They must constantly assess whether they have the necessary skills to do so. This is where a skills gap analysis can be beneficial.
- Evaluate your employees' current skills: Start by examining the skills that your organization has. You can begin by reviewing the organizational strategy and how roles fit within each department in your business. Then, you can analyze in more detail the skills of each employee within each team to identify what each one brings to the table. A good starting point could be to ask people through surveys how they rate their strengths and weaknesses.
You can also ask at the leadership level:
- What skills are most important to us as a company?
- For which jobs do we currently struggle to hire?
- In what goals are we falling short? Why?
- Where are there points of friction in key processes that could be resolved with training?
- What goals do we have for the next year and beyond that will require skills we currently don't possess?
- What roles do we anticipate needing in the next 12 to 18 months?
- How do we anticipate our organization will have to change in the next three to five years?
- Where could we create efficiency with additional training and/or automation? What would that efficiency enable?
- What trends in engagement surveys and performance reviews can we address through skills improvement?
- Identify necessary skills for the future (maximum 3-5 years): Identify the skills that your staff will need to keep up with the latest trends and technologies.
Ask the leaders of each department in your company:
- Are there regulatory changes on the horizon?
- Is technology having a specific impact on your sector?
- Are you planning to take the business in a different direction?
- Compare and analyze to develop a strategy: It's time to identify where the gaps are and what the highest priority is. An effective analysis tells a story with the data, highlighting trends.
- What are the biggest gaps?
- What are the most urgent ones?
- What obstacles could you face when implementing a strategy?
2- Build an Upskilling Training Program
Once the skill gaps have been identified, it's important to prioritize them and create a training plan to address them. This could include allocating a budget for training, identifying the appropriate training resources (internal or external), setting timelines for training, and creating a metric to measure the success of the training.
When developing an implementation plan, ask yourself questions such as:
- How do you want your employees to learn these skills?
- What is the best learning experience for acquiring each skill?
- Who can teach each skill and what resources will they need in terms of budget, systems, and time?
- What will we measure and how often will we analyze the effectiveness of the program?
With these answers, you can begin to take action:
1 - Define the goals of the plan: Define the goals of the upskilling plan, including the skills to be developed, the time it will take for the process, and the expected outcomes.
2 - Define the training formats: Ensure that relevant learning formats are used for each skill. Start by making a list of the alternatives you can realistically offer (e.g., workshops, video tutorials, e-learning modules) and then associate each skill with an appropriate format.
For example, learning to use new design software might be suitable for an online module, with video demonstrations and the opportunity to go at your own pace. The key is to ensure that the programs are interactive and practical so that your staff can apply the newly learned skills in their daily work.
3 - Define the platforms to use: As much as possible, take advantage of technology to offer effective skills improvement programs. Virtual platforms allow you to create engaging training modules, ensure compliance, segment, personalize, and track each of your workers.
According to LinkedIn's 2022 Workplace Learning Report, 46% of HR leaders stated that improving and updating skills are their top priorities.
3-Develop Personalized Upskilling Learning Paths
Personalized training paths will help keep employees motivated, as they can focus their time and effort on the areas where they need and want to improve while spending less time on areas where they already feel comfortable. Achieving this can be challenging with some traditional training delivery methods. This is where e-learning is critical, as it can develop hyper-personalized training experiences.
To develop personalized Upskilling learning paths, you can follow these steps:
- Identify the skills your organization needs: Use the results of the skills gap analysis (step 1) to identify the skills your organization needs to remain competitive in the future.
- Identify the skills of each worker: Conduct a skills assessment to identify the current skills of each worker. This will allow you to identify individual skills gaps and customize learning accordingly.
- Define the Upskilling paths: Based on the skills assessment and the skills requirements of your organization, define personalized Upskilling paths for each worker. Each path should be specific and tailored to the individual needs of the worker. It should include the learning resources and activities that will help workers acquire the necessary skills.
- Provide learning options: Provide different learning options for each Upskilling path, such as online courses, on-the-job training, mentoring, etc. Allow workers to choose the method that best suits their learning style and needs.
- Monitor progress: Monitor the progress of each worker and adjust the Upskilling path accordingly. Provide feedback and encouragement to keep workers motivated and committed to their professional development.
Remember that developing personalized Upskilling paths is an ongoing process. You must be willing to adapt and adjust the learning paths according to the needs of your organization and your workers.
4-Foster a Culture of Continuous Learning
The success of Upskilling will depend on whether the selected workers are committed to their own learning.
Promoting a culture of continuous learning can help ensure that your skills improvement programs are not a one-time activity, but a process that transcends time. Encourage your staff to seek learning opportunities during their day-to-day activities and motivate them to share their newly acquired knowledge and skills with their peers.
Also, make sure your employees understand and support your goals. Make it clear to them why you are carrying out a re-training program. What are the benefits for them? And how will they be supported?
5-Continuously Evaluate and Update According to Changing Needs
The new world of work demands that employees continuously improve their knowledge and skills. Therefore, the Upskilling process must be constant with the goal of empowering employees to reach their full potential, adapt to the continuous demand for new skills, and grow with the company. As technological advancements and social changes continue to disrupt the status quo, it's important to refine your strategies according to the ever-changing needs of your company.
To do this effectively, we recommend evaluating the results of your Upskilling strategies periodically. This way, you can measure their overall effectiveness and recognize areas that need improvement. This will allow you to make relevant changes where necessary and better align strategies with the needs of the company and your employees. Thus, you can cultivate a culture of continuous learning that is more responsive to rapidly changing needs.