Upskilling and Reskilling are More Important Than Ever

Oct 6
The grandfather of a friend of mine worked for the same carpet manufacturer in England his entire life and was “rewarded” with the traditional gold watch on his retirement at the age of sixty-five.

My friend’s father held a couple of different jobs at factories in the same town from his early twenties to the end of his career.

My friend himself went in an opposite route. By the time he was forty he’d changed jobs a dozen times, embarked on three different careers, and worked in three different countries.

That’s fairly typical for younger Baby Boomers, according to Zippia Research, and the pace has accelerated for Millennials who can be expected to change jobs every three years.

Transitioning from job to job requires the continuous acquisition of new skills as shown by the fact that 54 percent of respondents in the Zippia survey also reported that their college education was useful less than half of their time.

The pace of change within the work environment also continues to accelerate. A job that exists today may not exist next year, especially as the ramifications from the pandemic continue to reverberate. Some jobs that required physical proximity in customer service, and even medical care, for instance, were shown to be capably handled remotely. The result: there has never been a more important time to upskill and reskill employees.

Why upskilling and reskilling matters

Statistics from a World Economic Forum report prove the point emphasizing that the division of labor between humans and machines will lead to the loss of 85 million jobs by 2025 but will be replaced by 97 million new jobs. Covid-19 has increased the rate with up to 25 percent more employees than was estimated needing to switch to roles that involve e-commerce and remote work.

Covid-19 has also forced numerous changes in the way business has been conducted and rapid change is inevitable which, in turn, requires rapid retraining to meet those needs. Upskilling and reskilling have multiple benefits. They:

  • Enhance employee engagement

  • Improve employee retention

  • Attract the right kind of talent

  • Foster a collaborative environment

  • Facilitate the speedy adoption of new companywide strategies.

Financial benefit

When you retrain employees for a new role, you only train them for that particular position. They’re already familiar with company policies and procedures, software, and other functions, which represents one cost saving.

You also avoid recruitment costs such as advertising, background checks, and interviewing. The hard costs of hiring a replacement can easily be $4,000 and take fifty-two days. Replacing a frontline supervisor whose salary is $40,000 costs 20 percent of that salary, or $8,000. Replacing a senior level executive earning $200,000 can cost an astronomical $400,000. And once a new person is brought on board, there’s no guarantee they’re going to work out or stick around.

Keeping the cream of the crop

You know who your best workers are and whether they are able to adapt to change. There is value in their corporate knowledge, and they are already imbued in your culture. That’s a learning curve that can take considerable time, so do whatever you can to make your current employees aware that you want to help them acquire new skills because they’re appreciated. Talented employees can be hard to find so don’t lose your winners to another organization.

Boosting Morale

When workers see that a company is invested in skills training, they feel appreciated, are much more productive, and are 94 percent more likely to stay put, according to LinkedIn research. The acquisition of new skills raises their self-esteem and pride in their work and their company. Versatile employees who move into different positions become problem solvers and can contribute to overall corporate performance.

Employee Benefits

For the employee, a major advantage is the security of a steady job and maintenance of corporate programs such as a 401k plan or health insurance.

Further, the opportunity for acquiring new skills and climbing the corporate ladder is a considerable motivator for many employees. The value of lifelong learning—also outside of the workplace—cannot be understated as it improves an individual’s overall quality of life.

Set for Success

These are points well taken. Someone who sticks in the same narrow career path without exploring new horizons will probably not ultimately contribute as meaningfully to corporate performance. The adaptable employee is an all-round team player whose acquisition of new skills is added value to the individual and the team.

As my friend who has changed jobs and careers multiple times put it, “Every new position, every new experience delivered knowledge that proved invaluable in every new undertaking. The former roles gave me fresh perspectives and accumulated to the point where having a wide range of skills ultimately empowered me to start my own successful business.”

Reskilling and upskilling, of course, demand the investment of considerable time and company resources, which are time and resources well-spent. If you don’t have the in-house talent to deliver such training, consider finding an outside training company to guide you through the maze of decisions that need to be made: in-person course and/or online learning; one-on-one or group training; and how to establish ongoing assessment and evaluation.

The bottom line is that reskilling and upskilling your existing employees has numerous advantages over hiring new talent. It’s a win-win proposition for employer and employee.