The Importance of Upskilling in the Workforce

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The Importance of Upskilling in the Workforce

Workforce Development

The Importance of Upskilling in the Workforce 

So, what is upskilling? “Upskilling is a workplace trend that facilitates continuous learning by providing training programs and development opportunities that expand an employee's abilities and minimize skill gaps.”1 Creating opportunities for employees to thrive within the business is a great investment for all parties. As innovation becomes increasingly important to a successful businesses’ long-term strategy, workforce skill gaps must be closed with advancing technology education and automation system training. This is particularly important for older generations as they did not have the benefit of growing up alongside digital technology but are essential in the workforce due to their significant life and job experiences.

Upskilling Vs. Reskilling

These 2 words sounds very similar and have similar meanings, however, there are some key differences. “The difference between these two concepts lies in the objective of the training: whereas upskilling aims to teach employees new skills to optimise their performance; reskilling — also known as professional recycling — sets out to train employees to adapt to a different post within the company.”2 Both are important workforce strategies and key to success.

The Importance of Upskilling 

We live in a nation that fears advancing technology and automation because of the perceived job losses. However, for just as many job losses, we also see new roles appearing that didn’t previously exist – ex. Big Data Analysts. Unfortunately, these new positions aren’t very helpful to the workers who have just been laid off; especially when you consider that these employees were likely laid off from physically monotonous positions (minimal technical skills required) due to automation. There lies the looming skill gap.

This is exactly why upskilling is so important. By implementing a workforce development program for employees upon hiring, workers are not only more likely to feel valued, fulfilled and challenged within their current job role, but they will be ready for inevitable technological advancement and business structure shifts. Upskilling leads to a win-win situation for employers as it helps them achieve increasing returns to scale and profit growth from technology by equipping personnel with the skills to quickly transition and adapt to new internal roles. Current research shows that “82% of employees and 62% of HR directors believe that workers will need to hone their current skills or acquire new ones at least once a year in order to maintain competitive advantage in a global job market.”3

How Upskilling Affects Work Culture 

As an employer, you may worry about retaining talent, especially when you’ve help qualify them for other job positions through upskilling. Workforce development has the opposite effect. Retention reports show that the “number one reason people leave a job is because there were not enough learning opportunities.”4 The same people leaving their jobs for learning opportunities are also going to be the top talent that you attract with effective workforce development programs. This will foster a work culture of autonomy, innovation, and intelligence.

Additionally, many businesses, especially after COVID, are undergoing a ‘digital transformation.’ With one of the largest trends being in cloud collaboration software, such as Microsoft Teams. Training talent on how to use these digital tools will inevitably increase communication, organization, and collaboration in the workplace. Work culture will further improve.

It all sounds great, right? You may be wondering who oversees all this technical training and career development. Most commonly, it’s a job for a Human Resources Manager. Fortunately for workers, this is the best person to be managing their learning opportunities as HR has been hired to have the best interest of their employees in mind. Most managers seek out third-party training companies that specialize in the skills they want workers to learn. Human Resource Managers most often purchase training based off ‘brand reputation, product and review rating sites, and vendor rapport at conferences.'5  So, the first step is researching!

In-Demand Hard Skills & Soft Skills

Skills can be best divided into hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills are ‘teachable abilities or skills sets that are easy to quantify.’6 Firms are increasingly purchasing technology training opportunities to fulfill hard skills needs. The top five technologies that firms plan to incorporate into their business models are: Big Data, the Internet of Things (IoT), App and Web Markets, Machine Learning and Cloud Computing.7

Technologies that Firms Plan to Integrate into their Business Models in 2022:

  1. 89% Big Data: Software Developer, Database Administrator, IT Engineer
  2. 80% Internet of Things: Software Developer, IT Engineer, Marketing Manager
  3. 76% App and Web Markets: Marketing Manager, Market Analyst, Sales Representative
  4. 75% Machine Learning: Software Developer, Computer Science Researcher, Medical Researcher
  5. 71% Cloud Computing: Software Developer, IT Engineer, Database Administrator

Soft skills are people skills or interpersonal skills, which can be more difficult to teach as they are subjective and harder to quantify. Among the most popular soft skills being sought out by firms are critical and innovative thinking, active learning and learning strategies, creativity, originality and initiative, complex problem solving, and leadership and social influence. 

Who is Using Upskilling to their Advantage? 

Denmark is a great example of an entire country that’s embracing upskilling to develop human capital, meet employment demands and increase productivity. In 2002, they initiated the ‘Danish Growth Strategy’, which aimed to “shorten the length of university studies, encourage earlier completion of tertiary degrees, and increase private sector involvement.”8  Danish businesses have also put upskilling programs into place such that if an employee’s job is replaced by technology, within 2 days, their human resources team will reach out with a pivot position based on past skill development accomplishments. This is not yet a perfect solution, as it has resulted in soaring taxation, which has eliminated some of the profitable benefits for all parties. However, it’s a great step in the right direction.

New Horizons Kingston Can Help!

At New Horizons Kingston, we provide businesses with IT training courses and upskilling opportunities for their employees. With the largest guaranteed-to-run schedule in the world, your workforce will experience both increasing productivity and the skills to spearhead technological change. Our team will be with you every step of the way to organize course schedules, learning methods & overall success.

Our team's only goal is for your team to succeed.

_____________________

whatis.techtarget.com

2 https://www.iberdrola.com/talent/reskilling-upskilling#:~:text=The%20difference%20between%20these%20two,different%20post%20within%20the%20company.

3 https://hbr.org/2021/05/what-your-future-employees-want-most

4 https://info.workinstitute.com/hubfs/2019%20Retention%20Report/Work%20Institute%202019%20Retention%20Report%20final-1.pdf

5 https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/228948/2019%20HR%20Careers%20Report.pdf

6 https://www.thebalancecareers.com/hard-skills-vs-soft-skills-2063780\

7 https://www.iberdrola.com/talent/reskilling-upskilling#:~:text=The%20difference%20between%20these%20two,different%20post%20within%20the%20company

8 https://www.oecd.org/sti/ind/34458043.pdf

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Author: Mikayla Reid
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