According to the World Economic Forum’s research, it has been predicted that 85 million jobs may experience a tectonic shift in terms of allocation of functions between man and machine by 2025. Moreover, 97 million new roles will likely be created that would pivot around the division of labor between man, machine and algorithm.
And, Covid-19’s impact on the economy has been like no other in recent times. Companies have restructured, redesigned the workplace, roles and titles and much more. The sudden transition to remote work and managing digitally made many corporate leaders and L&D professionals acquainted with the underlying problem of skills gaps in their employees
Recent announcements by global companies like Twitter and Meta to name a few, to retrench their work force in massive numbers have made many people sit up and take note.
No matter how many times you come across such news, it underpins the need for reskilling and upskilling to keep jobs from being redundant and prepare employees for future roles. Learning new skills is crucial to stay abreast of the emerging business trends and practices, which also helps organizations stay competitive in the market.
What is upskilling?
Upskilling is the process of enhancing employees’ skills, enabling them to acquire new skills within their current job function that will help them perform to the best of their ability.
We are amidst the fourth industrial revolution, a period in which advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation are transforming the way we work. And in this era of rapid change and continual evolution of required skills, upskilling cannot be an afterthought. Instead, upskilling as well as reskilling are prerequisites for successful career growth.
Upskilling can help employees bridge the skills gaps through continuous professional development.
The need to Upskill
Traditional jobs are morphing into something different or disappearing altogether. According to a recent study, almost 30% of all work activities could be automated by 2030, most jobs may be replaced by automation. The digital economy, along with advances in technology, has drastically changed how goods and services are bought and sold. This also means that a new set of skills will be required to conduct business in the automated world.
Most companies moved all or parts of their processes online during the pandemic, and many employees reinvented themselves in terms of acquiring new skills on the fly. The need for upskilling was felt most by the workforce themselves.
The critical advantages for an organization to invest in upskilling their employees are:
🌞Improved employee engagement: Upskilling provides employees ample opportunities to learn new skills and grow professionally, which helps improve employee engagement, and they are less likely to leave to acquire new skills.
💰Cost reduction: Upskilling investment offsets the cost of replacing and hiring a new employee.
⚡Career growth: Upskilling is also a precursor to growth opportunities, and this is seen as a desired attribute in the new world by employees. Upskilling leads to employee satisfaction and improved productivity in the workplace.
How can organizations upskill their workforce?
While individuals should continuously invest in upskilling themselves, there is a lot that organizations can do too. While it depends on the requirements of the employees and organizational goals, the techniques and strategies they use will help gain a more profitable outcome. Let us see some ways that can help make upskilling approachable and effortless:
Identifying the requirement is the first step in the process. It is important to gauge the present level of productive skills of your employees and assess the missing ones. It’s important to think about the skills you’ll need in the future, not just right now. For instance, many industries — like manufacturing, mining, and energy — are leaning heavily into automation. But as companies adopt automated tools, they’re finding that they need more human traits/soft skills such as creativity or people management to fill gaps.
🎨 Create a learning and growth culture
Investing in upskilling your workforce to create learning and growth as part of your company culture and with their productive hours paves the way for an effectively skilled workforce. Give employees opportunities to cross-train in other roles that require similar skill sets. This allows employees to learn on the job and refine their skills and aptitudes, laying the groundwork for future mobility into evolving roles.
🎀 Individual development programs
A personal development plan is essential for all working employees, boosts their confidence and creates psychological safety. Upskilling via stretch goals allows employees to change their mindset to achieve their goals. Employees will appreciate the attention to their career objectives, and the company benefits from developing more versatile skill sets.
Taking on new responsibilities can also help employees enhance their skills. Give employees upskilling opportunities to participate in new, more challenging assignments or tasks in their current role.
Developing internal mentorship programs is a resource-friendly way to hone skills. An employee in an upper-level role, for example, can mentor their successor to share the skills they’ve developed over the years. Mentorship programs pass on institutional knowledge and build trust among employees as well
🎇 Nominate for conferences
Setting up a training program can help and encourage employees to improve and work better. Supplement that with nominating them and having them attend relevant seminars and conferences.
Today’s leaders are required to navigate significant organizational and on ground realities that exceed any challenges any business leaders could have imagined prior. They need to anticipate and address uncertainty in the new world and identify opportunities created by digitization and automation.
New expectations require a new set of skills. The most important behaviors that workers have cited as an ask from their leadership are authenticity, trustworthiness, and inspiration – which are all human skillsThis in turn can inspire, set direction, build trust, and foster teamwork.
Peer-led learning, coaching, and mentoring are important ingredients for upskilling leadership. 55% of the senior managers often turn to their peers to learn new skills. Shadowing a senior leader can be insightful and inspiring. And access to a coach or mentor can help aspiring leaders learn what it takes to be in charge, while mentoring others can help people build great communication skills and develop empathy. In addition, stretch assignments can give people their first chance to manage a team.
People need an opportunity to practice their new skills at work through experiential learning like secondments, stretch assignments, and volunteering. This helps them remember their learning and also hone those skills further.
Strong leadership is a competitive differentiator for tomorrow’s top organizations. When you enable your workforce and high achievers now by investing in their learning and growth and providing a means to accelerate their careers, it will pay off with higher engagement and capability building to produce a more efficient and high performing leadership team.
What do you think about upskilling?
If you want to know what more on how you can upskill, or what to upskill on – let’s talk: