Reskilling: Benefits and best practices

According to the World Economic Forum, one billion people will need to be reskilled by 2030. Reskilling is essential for organizations to help meet their staffing needs and future-proof their business as the workplace continues to evolve.

Reskilling vs. upskilling

Reskilling is the process of an employee learning an entirely new skillset so they can do a completely different job. For example, IT staff could be reskilled to work in cloud computing or cybersecurity.

Upskilling, in contrast, is all about adding to a pre-existing skill set within an employee’s current role. For example, people may upskill as new technology is introduced into their job role.


Why reskilling is important

We exist in a world of ever-evolving technology. And, despite the Coronavirus pandemic, we’re not going to see these advancements slow down anytime soon.

Now more than ever it’s vital that organizations keep making a commitment to growing employees so they can succeed – whatever direction they head in.

This is where both reskilling and upskilling come into play.


Reskilling and upskilling is a top priority for the next decade

The current skill sets of employees globally are outdated.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) reported that more than 40% of employees will need reskilling2 by 2025.

Unless organizations change the way they approach reskilling, companies will continue to fail to grow their employees and future-proof their business.


Changing skillsets for changing times: Displacement due to automation and robotic process automation

The rise of automation and robotic process automation (RPA) has seen job responsibilities decrease by as much as 50% in some roles.

The pace of change is rapid, with Gartner3 reporting that over 33% of the skills required by an average 2017 job posting were no longer necessary in 2021.

The best thing you can do is ensure your employees stay employable.

Encouraging your teams to reskill will enable them to become adaptable, life-long learners.

What’s more, both parties can reap the benefits of reskilling and upskilling. WEF reports4 that 94% of employers expect their employees to acquire new skills whilst on the job. These individuals will see rapid career progression, unlike those who fail to adapt.


Ideal for combatting labor shortages

Reskilling is the answer to minimizing workplace skills shortages on a global scale, especially the current labor shortages that most developed economies are experiencing.

The benefits of reskilling your organization

It all comes down to resources. Ultimately, through reskilling, you become more in control of costs in all departments.

Reskilling employees cuts out the lengthy and inconvenient parts of hiring new employees.

According to the Society For Human Resource Management (SHRM), the average company cost-per-hire is $4,129.

From training costs to recruiting, background checks and interviews, it’s a costly process. And after all of that, it’s still possible that your new recruit isn’t the right fit for your team.

With reskilling, you could be saving your organization thousands of dollars. With this comes security and saves a lot of company time too.

When companies reskill employees, they steer clear of the whole onboarding process.

This is only a plus when you take a look at the statistics. According to the Society For Human Resource Management, it can take around 52 days to hire a new employee.

Unlike new starters, your current workers already have familiarity with workplace culture, policies and procedure. They don’t need time to settle in. And after upskilling and reskilling, they’re already in the know and ready to go and get the job done.

Your organization’s time to market is massively increased. A big win for you and your employees.

Finding the right people for the job can be a tricky task. When you’ve established the perfect team, driving them away just doesn’t make sense.

Why let your most talented employees go when you can start reskilling?

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, internal mobility is more of a priority now than ever before. Job reskilling makes it a whole lot easier too.

According to LinkedIn Learning5, employees are twice as likely to stay at the same company if they have a chance to expand their roles. Your workers become even more valuable and dedicated to your organization.

If employees feel valued by their employers, they’ll produce higher quality work and improve productivity.

By offering reskilling to your workers, you’re showing them that you care. In turn, they’re more likely to take pride in their jobs and become dedicated employees.

Improve your company’s reputation by letting people know you’re the ones that develop and grow your teams to be excellent.

In the eyes of your competitors and future employees, offering upskilling and reskilling shows that you care about and invest in your employees, and that you’re dedicated to ensuring they are the best they can be.

When employees reskill, they instantly become more flexible in their roles and responsibilities.

This is a positive in response to recent trends. McKinsey6 has reported that 25% of employees need to switch job roles. An outcome of the pandemic has seen organizations transition towards higher-wage occupations.

With experience in areas company-wide, they’ve got greater insight across the board. They’ll quickly become fantastic problem solvers, with a great set of transferable skills.

Benefits of reskilling for employees

Keep stable employment (and benefits)

Reskilling is just as important and beneficial for employees as it is for employers.

When companies offer benefits after a certain length of employment, you’re motivating employees to stay within your organization. For example, introducing an insurance scheme after a year of employment.

Upward mobility (role diversity)

If employees know there’s potential for a promotion up for grabs, you’re motivating them to work hard. But with upward mobility comes new responsibilities.

Reskilling and upskilling will teach your team the things they’ll need for any future promotion. They can grow, rise through the ranks and stay within your company. It’s a solution that everyone stands to gain from.

Making lifelong learning a process

Across almost all industries, employees no longer have the time to commit to day-long training sessions. Analyst Josh Bersin7 reports that the average employee only has time for 24 minutes a week dedicated to formal learning.

The process of upskilling and reskilling is the answer to the problems of the modern worker. Employees learn on the job, at a time that suits them. They’re more likely to retain knowledge too.

By shifting away from the norm of rigid training days, learning doesn’t come to a halt. Reskilling will encourage your workforce to treat learning as a lifelong process.

How to organize a reskilling program

It all comes down to resources. Ultimately, through reskilling, you become more in control of costs in all departments.

Before you begin, start with the basics and make a plan. It’ll keep things relevant and focused.  

Firstly, are there gaps in your company? If these areas impact your organization’s future plans to grow, this will be a good place to start. It’s here that you’ll need to implement the most reskilling.

Next, rank your list by identifying which of these areas are most to least important. If there’s quite a significant space that needs to be filled, this should be your top priority.

Don’t get ahead of yourself. In preparation of relocating employees, think about any of their ongoing projects or tasks. How long will they take, and will reskilling negatively impact progress?

So your organization is looking to remove job roles, but as a result you’re also letting talented employees go.

How to retain the best of your bunch? Reskilling. Their skills will be redirected into a different role, and they can reach their full potential.

It may help to ask yourself some questions:

  • What are the benefits of reskilling this employee?
  • What are the risks of reskilling? Could this interfere with this person’s current projects or responsibilities?
  • Is this employee suitable for reskilling?
  • What skill set do they already possess? Will they need upskilling or reskilling?

This might be one of the most difficult bits. Not all of your employees will be the best fit for reskilling, so think about this carefully.

Employees may only be skilled for some of the responsibilities of a specific job. For instance, an individual could be great at filling out paperwork, but not so good at onboarding new employees.

By recognizing gaps in skill and knowledge, the adjustment between roles becomes smoother. You won’t be wasting time reskilling in areas that they’re already well versed in. Instead, you’re focusing on where they lack the knowledge to settle into their new responsibilities faster.

Upskilling and reskilling can be delivered in a number of ways – for example through group exercises, workshops, or one-to-one tutoring.

It’s important to acknowledge that everyone learns differently, and with different requirements too. Ask all of your employees how they learn best. It’ll give you a good insight into what method you should use.

Not all positions will need as much of a plan as others, but it’ll be helpful to establish some level of detail in each area all the same.

If an employee needs reskilling imminently, you should commit more time to building a plan around them. Not only will this keep things organized but also make the reskilling process more productive and streamlined.

A report by ManpowerGroup has revealed that by the end of 2022, 54% of all employees will require significant reskilling and upskilling. They’ve also concluded that 35% are required to train for up to six months, and around 9% will need to reskill for up to a year. It’s becoming a necessity.

Knowing the level of commitment your reskilling and upskilling program will need can help you with resource planning.

The sooner you start reskilling, the better. Your company will be ahead of the game whilst your competitors play catch up. Once you’ve chosen your methods, this part will become a lot easier. It’s all in the planning.

It’s important to keep in mind that not all employees will want to change positions or responsibilities.

If someone is already feeling uneasy about their role, or financial situation, the potential of change will be daunting.

Tread carefully. Be diplomatic and take into account their opinions. This way, your employees will be more open to the possibility of reskilling.

Now you’ve got your plan, you’re ready to go.

This method of training might be brand new to your organization. It’s okay if some aspects don’t go the way you planned them, or you don’t see progress straightaway. 

Above all else, reskilling is all about broadening your employees’ skillsets. Remember, it’s an ongoing process, so don’t be scared to make adjustments in order to see improvement.  

Are you ready to level up your training?

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  2. Upskilling for Shared Prosperity,
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  4. The Future of Jobs Report 2020,
  5. Workplace Learning Report,
  6. The future of work after COVID-19,
  7. A New Paradigm For Corporate Training: Learning In The Flow of Work,