Over the past few years, up skilling has become increasingly relevant among industry experts across the business. The most important reason for this is the growing digital skills gap companies are facing. There is a huge difference between the employers’ demand and employees’ actual skill set. Up skilling bridges this gap offering some relevant digital skills, analytics skills, and organizational transformation skills to the employees and can help retain good workforce and fill those difficult-to-fill positions. The idea of upskilling is to improve skills of existing employees rather than hire new people with those skills.
Numerous discussions have been done on this, following its growing demand. However, here are top five things one should keep in mind while talking about upskilling:
- Stopping turnover is the priority: According to a Mach 2021 survey conducted by ‘Eightfold.AI” about 30% of managers said their top goal is reduce turnover. Therefore, the attitude of “there’s someone else who would love your job” is becoming an antique.
- Training is the bigger priority: Companies are looking within rather than hiring from outside. a whopping 50% of managers in the Eightfold’s survey said cross-training or upskilling employees are top priority.
- Job-seekers upskilling before even they are hired: According to a 2021 August survey by Amdocs, about 90% of respondents consider upskilling programs an integral feature in a possible employer. The number for the tech industry is about 97%.
- Existing employees want it too: Near about 56% of workers would like their employer to offer more training and career development, the Amdoc survey found. It is possible that employees resign from existing company as they are never getting it or may just look for a new job.
- Half of U.S. workers would switch jobs for upskilling, according to a Gallup Amazon poll from September 2021. Therefore, nearly 56% want it from their employer and close to 50% would switch jobs to get it. There is an overlap but it is interesting to note those numbers add up to almost 100%.
Ways to up skill workforce
Employees want to gain new skills. Employers need them to gain new skills. There are numerous ways to up skill workforce. Depending on organization’s needs one method may be more suitable than another. A combination of different upskilling techniques can also be effective following the demand.
Learning and development
Upskilling workforce through learning and development (L&D) program is one of the most obvious ways to go. however, the L&D program is the result of a learning and development strategy. Depending on the model organizations can create such a strategy. There are four phases required:
- An analysis of training needs (through a skill gap analysis)
- Specification of learning objectives
- Design of training content and method
- Monitoring and evaluation
Every organization will employ a different L&D strategy. This means that the learning methods a company chooses to up skill its workforce will vary as well. While some organizations will prefer peer coaching and an ‘up skill track’ on their Learning Management System, others pick online courses in combination with real-life lectures and seminars.
A key technique in job redesign, Job rotation is the practice of moving employees between jobs in an organization. This can be an excellent way to transfer specific skills, knowledge, and competencies. These rotations mostly take place between jobs on the same level and are also often temporary; so people tend to move back to their original job after a certain period.
For example, often managers may need to gain experience in different departments before they’re ready for a senior leadership position in which they need this experience.
Including additional activities within the same level to an existing role termed as job enlargement. This teaches employees a variety of skills and helps their career growth. Any additional job responsibilities require training and help in building additional experience. In other words, this can be a way to up skill workforce.
Job enrichment is a process that is characterized by adding extra dimensions to existing jobs. Examples include increasing skill variety, creating more autonomy, and giving feedback. The main goal of job enrichment is to make jobs more motivating, but this can have the ‘bonus’ advantage of upskilling people at the same time.
Peer coaching-another way to go about upskilling employees, it has a more informal side and it exposes employees to a bigger range of workplace skills.
While peer mentoring sounds similar to peer coaching, they’re not the same. With peer mentoring, a more experienced employee teaches knowledge and skills to a less experienced worker. The mentor here also provides guidance.