An Upskilling Programme For Your Workforce Will Benefit Everyone

Aug 20, 2021


‘Employment Engagement’ and ‘Learning and Development’ are by no means new concepts and they are likely to be well established within your organisation.

But they are quickly growing in importance as talent shortages increase and work-visa requirements become stricter. Therefore businesses planning for your future need to examine the existing talent in your staff and assess how you can develop them in their roles as well as potentially upskill them in other tasks.  

Upskilling is very important for your employees’ development, satisfaction and retention, especially after the last disruptive few years. Because of this difficult period during the pandemic many people have been reassessing their professional priorities and work lifestyle.  Some are realising that their employer is inflexible; unwilling to develop them professionally; and/or reluctant to provide flexible working options. You can guarantee that your employees will have done the same self-analysis and future talent will also be assessing your incentives, flexibility and culture closely. In-demand candidates are choosing flexi-working, professional development and company culture before more traditional benefits of salary and company brand. So if your business actively demonstrates solid investment in your people’s skills and their long-term future in the company then this will signal to your staff, future hires and the market how much you respect and value your employees.

Specific skills and training relevant to your industry will obviously be a priority but do keep in mind that there are many generalist courses.

In the reskilling survey, 39% of respondents stated they felt less proficient in data skills with an emphasis on analytics and computer science. Business and soft skills – more than one-third of employees report they are lacking – will continue to be a crucial element of successful remote work.

Don’t start allocating a huge budget for multiple MBA tuition fees though. You will find that many courses are free or heavily subsidised by individual providers, organisations or government because of the current economic impact of Covid. Online courses are the most effective and cost efficient for businesses, especially in an on-going environment of repeat lockdowns and remote based working. The rise of modular credentials has made historic barriers to education such as cost and time less of an issue so affordability, flexibility and relevancy are crucial in further education. Employee training and upskilling will be an excellent investment to your business by providing your staff with further knowledge and increasing skills in your workforce.

Manage your upskilling/reskilling programme strategically for the business by nominating employees to investigate viable learning and development options and also encourage suggestions from your staff. Delegating time to undertake this learning during business hours may become problematic so this should be negotiated on a case by case basis to determine how much time can realistically be allocated from normal tasks without impact on their work performance. Keep in mind that further education can easily fall to the bottom of their priorities so ensure that they remain on track with a schedule.

Another option for staff development is reskilling your existing team about other jobs in the business. This is valuable because it provides additional staff cover and you will gain multiskilled employees who will understand (and respect) their co-workers’ positions. As a result you will gain a lean, multi-trained team who can shift around tasks fluidly to cover high workloads as required. It is actually more cost effective to reskill an existing team member than recruiting a new employee. In turn, you are providing your employees with a wider skillset and they are assured that their job is more stable in an uncertain market.

Of course there will always be ‘that’ employee who is just too busy or not willing to upskill. You can’t win them all, so focus on those who are keen to learn and they will soon become the superstars of your organisation.

Help your team to develop their skills and career trajectory with your business so they gain job satisfaction and security. As a bonus you will retain your highest performers and also attract future talent in a very competitive candidate market.