While innovations such as artificial intelligence (AI), predictive analytics and blockchain become more prevalent, companies are struggling to find applicants with the expertise required to keep up and actually interact with these emerging technologies. In fact, more than 80% of professionals in the talent development industry identify a clear skill gap in their company.
“Companies need to change what they do and how they do it,” says Mikell Parsch, CEO of New Horizons Computer Learning Centers, a global IT training company. “Dual change—the pace of technology and the pace of business evolution—makes training in the workplace essential.”Today’s HR leaders must rethink their professional development programs and look at personalized learning courses, skill-specific workshops, or company-sponsored degrees or certifications to meet their needs in order to bring the skills they need to their workforce. They also need to take into account the upsurge in remote work as a result of COVID-19, likely investing more in online rather than instructor-led learning opportunities.
But a one-off reskilling or upskilling effort is simply not enough. To ensure that their workforce remains competitive and agile, organizations will need to continuously evaluate the individual skills and future skills needed for their business to thrive—setting the stage for continuous learning. Let’s examine each one to get a better understanding of how reskilling and upskilling fit within this broader “new skills” strategy:
Reskilling requires educating workers on an entirely new set of skills to prepare them to assume a different position within the company. This usually happens when the prior roles or duties of employees become obsolete, often due to technical advancements.
“Businesses do this because an employee can fit well in a team and have knowledge of the marketplace or business that would be difficult to replace,” Parsch says. The organization only needs to upgrade its skills to meet modern systems and new capabilities in order to retain the employee.” Reskilling may involve obtaining a new degree, certification or education in a different field or field of expertise.”
For instance, Amazon launched retraining programs last year for 100,000 of its employees to place them on a relevant career path in the face of automation. In this scenario, warehouse floor staff were trained as IT technicians for possible new positions, and low-level coders were turned into data scientists. Reskilling helps organizations to maintain loyal staff and minimize turnover by investing in employee growth.
But in their reskilling programs, many companies are not ambitious enough, waiting until they see a loss in skills and/or do not adequately recognize their particular needs (for example, overlooking critical-thinking skills in favor of strictly technological capabilities). A more holistic approach to the development of skills (what we refer to as “new skills”) requiring frequent assessment would significantly increase the capacity of a business to adapt rapidly and effectively.
In comparison to the 180-degree pivot of reskilling, upskilling happens when employees strengthen established skills and deepen their abilities and influence within their field of expertise. Employees become ideally prepared for new tasks and higher-level positions on a specific career path by expanding their skills.
For example, to better connect with their audience (and reach new ones) on emerging social media, a marketer would need to learn new digital tools and skills. If they do so effectively, they will simultaneously give their company a boost and set themselves up in more advanced positions for potential success.
Providing upskilling programs for workers should be a top priority for HR executives and part of a broader, ongoing digital skills plan committed to cultivating industry-leading talent. It’s a win-win situation, after all, and a smart way to stay on top of the sector’s best practices. Upskilling, similar to reskilling, often helps to build healthy inter-company relationships.“ Upskilling will prevent good leaders from quitting to enter your contest, says Parsch. “They are more likely to remain by investing in your team and demonstrating that you want them to grow.”
The demand for qualified talent will only continue to increase, and the skills gap will only deepen as developments in technology and social changes threaten the status quo. In order to remain competitive and enhance their employability, the modern world of work requires individuals to constantly refine their abilities. The term new skills reflects all kinds of continuous learning to help develop high-demand skills, whether a person attempts to upskill current skills or needs full reskilling to create entirely new skills.
By ensuring that learning plans are applicable to future business priorities and customized to the needs of learners, a new capability mentality ensures both a workforce and an organization agile. This is clearly the new reality; without reskilling and upskilling programs guided by a new skilling strategy, no company can survive for long. Organizations may develop more thoughtful, ongoing skill programs to better develop those skills in their workforce by consistently assessing what skills would be required in the future and which of those workers currently possess.
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