HR Leads Business

Jan 24, 2020 | Clare Chiappetta

The Benefits of Upskilling

Innovations in technology are occurring every day, changing our world and our work at an unprecedented speed, and that requires people to evolve. The technical skills we learned five years ago are nearly obsolete. This presents new challenges, but also distinct advantages for talent management. 

“People need to acquire new skills very quickly,” says Katie Rasoul, principal leadership development coach at Team Awesome Coaching. “We’re at this moment in HR where we have to invest in an upskilling framework in order to staff our businesses.”

Upskilling can be a challenge, but it gives your organization the chance to invest in homegrown talent. Here are three advantages to establishing an upskilling framework at your organization.

Lay the Groundwork for the Future

The pace of change in the workplace means that our skill sets will need to continually evolve, so upskilling initiatives can’t be a one-and-done deal. Upskilling has to be built into your organization’s infrastructure as an ongoing program. “Forecasting needs for jobs that haven’t been created yet, or are still being developed, isn’t always easy to do,” says Scott Dettman, CEO of Avenica. “Make a game plan for your upskilling initiatives — aside from answering core questions about logistics, make sure to answer questions about the larger goals of upskilling.”

Identifying your organization’s emerging skills needs —  and skill gaps — requires staying up-to-date on workforce and economic developments to create an upskilling framework. “HR departments can partner with stakeholders throughout their organization to assess what types of skill gaps exist today and what type of knowledge employees will need to have in the future to keep moving the organization forward,” Dettman suggests. 

This framework helps provide companies the skill sets they need to succeed now and lays the groundwork for future growth.

Incentivize Retention Through Learning

In a competitive job market, your organization has to capture the needs and desires of your existing workforce. For many employees, this means ongoing upskilling and professional development opportunities. “Employee retention is directly related to employees seeing personal and professional growth opportunities available for them,” Rasoul says. “Organizations that offer that will be able to pivot faster by adjusting their skill sets quickly, which will lead to higher retention and engagement.”

The growth potential offered to employees by an upskilling framework can help build both loyalty and purpose. Employees will appreciate organizations that are willing to invest in them, Dettman suggests. “Employees should also feel as though they play an important part in the future of the organization,” he says. This sense of purpose and belonging is crucial to increasing retention, and offering an upskilling framework can help you achieve that. 

Hire for Learnability, Not Learned Skills

Your organization doesn’t have to be stifled by the talent crisis. Upskilling gives you room to breathe and to hire talent outside of traditional skill sets. “Right now, we can pay a huge premium for external talent,” Rasoul says. “With an upskilling infrastructure, it’s much less expensive to hire people that get our culture and are a good fit and upskill them.”

This infrastructure requires a culture shift, but it increases your viability in a tight labor market. To be successful, though, you have to incorporate learning into your organization’s core competencies and expectations, Rasoul says. This includes supporting employees by giving them the time and resources they need to focus on upskilling. “We really have to practice what we preach and create that culture of upskilling and development,” Rasoul says.