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What are Upskilling and Reskilling? Strategies for Future Success

Technological advancements are transforming how we work at a rapid pace, making it crucial for businesses and employees to actively embrace upskilling and reskilling. By investing in these strategies, companies can stay ahead of the curve, while employees can secure their future in an ever-changing job market. Businesses that understand the power of upskilling and reskilling are also likely to be more successful in the long term, as they will have a steady stream of highly qualified and motivated employees.

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Short Summary

  • Upskilling and reskilling are essential for staying competitive in a changing business environment.
  • Investing in upskilling and reskilling provides numerous advantages to both employees and businesses, including employee retention, cost savings, innovation, and future-proofing against automation.
  • Develop an effective strategy by identifying skill gaps and future needs, designing personalized training plans, and fostering a culture of continuous learning.

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What is Upskilling?

Upskilling is the process of teaching current employees new skills that complement their existing job roles, tailored to the company’s future needs. In today’s fast-paced business environment, upskilling is essential for companies to stay competitive and bridge the skills gap, as the World Economic Forum predicts that 44% of core skills will change by 2027.

When companies invest in upskilling, they can enhance their corporate reputation, increase productivity, and empower their workforce to take on new challenges.

How Upskilling Applies to Professional Development

As technology advances, organizations need to ensure their employees can utilize it as a part of their job role. Equipping employees with new skills through upskilling leads to productivity increases that can lead to a reduction in the cost of doing business. Additionally, employees are able to keep their skills up to date with competency-based training, making them, and by extension the organization, better prepared for the future.

The Need for Upskilling Employees

The need for upskilling has never been more urgent, as the World Economic Forum predicts that by 2025, up to 85 million jobs may be displaced due to a shift in the division of labor between machines and humans. Advances in technology and digital transformation will lead to the emergence of 97 million new roles. This is a simultaneous event. Even for those who can stay in the same roles, almost half of the necessary skills for certain job roles are expected to change.

Investing in training and development initiatives can help businesses achieve their goals and maximize value. Additionally, upskilling and reskilling can help organizations improve their reputation and empower their employees to take on more meaningful work. Such programs can also help businesses address current and future challenges, ensuring a brighter future for both the organization and its employees.

What is Reskilling?

Reskilling is the process of retraining existing employees to provide them with the skills they need for a completely different role within an organization. This is distinct from upskilling, which involves enhancing the abilities employees already possess. Reskilling allows organizations to provide career growth for internal employees who are already familiar with an organization’s culture, rather than hiring new employees outside the organization, which is expensive and time-consuming. By investing in reskilling, businesses can adapt to changing technology, retain their talented employees, and maintain a competitive edge in the market.

How Reskilling Applies to Professional Development

Employees have more options within their career paths than just upskilling. Employees who are eager to move into a different career field within an organization need clear paths for advancing their careers. This allows an organization to place employees on unique training paths that provide them with the training they need to move into a new position and ensure their success.

The Need for Reskilling Employees

The World Economic Forum predicts that by 2025, 54% of employees at large companies will require reskilling. Rapid advancements in technology and the increasing role of automation in the workplace are driving the demand for reskilling. Investing in reskilling not only helps businesses adapt to these changes but also demonstrates their commitment to the professional growth of their employees.

Moreover, reskilling can play a crucial role in addressing skills gaps that may arise due to technological advancements and changes in the job market. When a business invests in reskilling its employees, it can ensure that its workforce remains relevant and competitive, ultimately contributing to the company’s overall success.

4 Reasons to Implement Upskilling and Reskilling Strategies

There are many advantages that employees and organizations can gain from implementing upskilling and reskilling strategies. Here are 4 common reasons to upskill and reskill employees:

  1. Employee Retention and Satisfaction
  2. Cost Savings and Efficiency
  1. Business Agility and Innovation
  2. Future-Proofing Against Automation

Upskilling and reskilling not only contribute to the growth and development of employees but they also help businesses stay ahead of the curve in an ever-changing job market. By investing in these strategies, companies can enhance their corporate reputation, increase productivity, and empower their workforce to take on new challenges and adapt to evolving industry trends.

Employee Retention and Satisfaction

There is a persistent misconception among many organizational leaders that employees are generally unwilling to receive training. In reality, 55% of employees have shown a willingness to undergo upskilling or reskilling. Moreover, 94% of employees who were trained applied their newly acquired skills to progress in their job or career. As a result, employees are prioritizing companies that help them grow in their careers.

To ensure long-term career success, businesses should provide employees with the necessary resources and tools to grow, which can create a loyal and content workforce. Stagnant skills are detrimental to employee success, so it’s crucial to help any employees reluctant to participate in skills training understand how reskilling/upskilling factors into their career growth.

Upskilling and reskilling programs can help address skill gaps, boost morale and productivity, and show a commitment to employees’ career growth. This leads to better employee retention and satisfaction and helps to uncover hidden talents and skills.

Cost Savings and Efficiency

Improving employees’ skills through upskilling and reskilling can lead to cost savings and increased efficiency by reducing the need for external recruitment. By training existing staff to fill skill gaps, organizations can avoid hiring new employees and save on recruitment spending while also ensuring they have the necessary talent to achieve their organizational objectives.

Focusing on and investing in skills training yields cost savings through increased employee engagement, productivity gains, and the enhancement of overall work quality. Knowledge and skills development of employees leads to positive impacts for organizations, allowing them to reach and surpass goals and to maintain a steady course even in turbulent economic conditions.

Business Agility and Innovation

Learning new skills and upgrading existing ones can keep businesses competitive and flexible in response to changing market trends. This approach encourages employees to explore different career paths within the organization. When employees learn new skills they gain a deeper understanding of their responsibilities and become more versatile, leading to increased business agility and innovation.

In addition, consistently improving skills and acquiring new ones can assist businesses in outpacing their competitors. When companies foster an environment that promotes education and development, they can increase their chances of attracting skilled employees and staying competitive in the industry.

Futureproofing Against Automation

To remain competitive in the 4th industrial revolution, businesses need to provide upskilling and reskilling programs for their workforce, as automation becomes more common. Not providing opportunities for employees to learn new skills or switch roles can harm a company’s success in the long run by limiting talent and expertise. By helping employees acquire new skills and adapt to different positions, upskilling and reskilling can increase job security and open career advancement pathways.

Examples of Successful Upskilling and Reskilling Programs

Real-world examples of successful upskilling and reskilling programs include Volkswagen’s approach to industry changes, BP’s cloud-based data storage transformation, and Nestle’s employee support and training initiatives. These companies have demonstrated that, by investing in their workforce, they can adapt to industry changes, stay competitive in the market, and prepare for future success.

The examples below showcase how upskilling and reskilling can resolve skills gaps, enhance employee engagement, and promote business growth. When examining these effective programs, businesses can devise their own upskilling and reskilling approaches to keep their workforce competitive and prepared for challenges now and in the future.

Volkswagen’s Approach to Industry Changes

Volkswagen provides online courses, mentoring, and other resources to help its employees stay up to date with industry advancements. The purpose of their training program is to keep up with industry trends and improve employee skills. Volkswagen’s investment in upskilling and reskilling demonstrates its commitment to employee success, resulting in fewer job losses and cost-effective production of new technologies.

BP’s Cloud-Based Data Storage Transformation

BP has upgraded its storage system to a cloud-based solution to make it easier for employees to access and use the latest technology to simplify performing their work duties. Moving to a cloud-based storage system meant BP needed to provide training and support to ensure employees were able to learn and use this new system. Using cloud-based technology allowed BP to decrease labor expenses and enhance productivity, ultimately resulting in a stronger customer service experience and increased competitiveness. BP remains dedicated to maintaining its competitiveness within the industry and supporting its employees’ professional growth through investments in upskilling and reskilling initiatives.

Nestlé’s Employee Support and Training Initiatives

Nestlé is a well-known brand worldwide that values keeping its employees up to date with the latest technology trends. To accomplish this, they provide various training resources, such as online courses, mentoring programs, and other helpful resources, through a gamified online learning platform called eBusiness Academy. Through this strategic investment in upskilling and reskilling, Nestlé is demonstrating not just a commitment to the personal and professional development of its employees, but also a dedication to maintaining a competitive edge in the ever-evolving market landscape.

Developing an Effective Upskilling and Reskilling Strategy

Developing an effective upskilling and reskilling strategy involves:

  • Identifying Skills Gaps and Future Needs
  • Designing Personalized Training Plans
  • Fostering a Culture of Continuous Learning

Investing in upskilling and reskilling strategies can help businesses bridge skills gaps, prepare employees for future challenges, and show commitment to their professional growth. By studying successful real-world examples and implementing effective strategies, businesses can stay ahead of the curve and ensure their workforce remains competitive in the evolving job market.

Identifying Skill Gaps and Future Needs

As part of a skills gap analysis, businesses should conduct a survey of all departments to identify skill gaps and future needs, determining the required skills for each position. Once completed, employees should be surveyed to identify any skills gaps they may have, then leverage that data to construct personalized learning paths to bridge them.

By involving employees in the recognition of key skills and conducting a thorough skills gap analysis, organizations can better understand the areas where improvement is needed and devise targeted strategies to address these gaps.

Designing Personalized Training Plans

Building employee learning paths requires proper attention as it is an important business investment in employee skilling. Personalized training plans that align with both the employee’s and organization’s goals, as well as their learning styles, ensure that every employee is equipped with the right skills for their current and future roles. One aspect of a training plan that may be overlooked is the use of experienced employees as mentors. As an employee travels through their training path, mentors can answer questions and show practical applications of skills being learned to help cement knowledge acquisition.

Training plans should also include a timetable for completion and milestone checkpoints to allow employees to show they have acquired important skills. Having a set timeline with milestone checkpoints will ensure employees complete their training and demonstrate mastery of the skills they are learning.

Fostering a Culture of Continuous Learning

A focused approach to employee development can help businesses create a culture of learning and development which will help it stay competitive and relevant with an engaged, skilled, and motivated workforce. However, cultivating a culture of continuous learning requires more than just providing training to employees. Building a culture is the “easy” part—the hard part is maintaining that culture. There are several tactics organizations can use to foster continuous learning:

  • Use internal SMEs to create training content
  • Ensure that training is easily accessed
  • Give employees time to learn
  • Make learning fun
  • Encourage employees to share their knowledge
  • Create a reward/recognition structure for learning
  • Have leaders play an active role in learning

Organizations also need to create mechanisms to measure training effectiveness and employee progress. This can be achieved using surveys and assessments at various mileposts in a training program. The results will help determine if there needs to be an adjustment to the training to ensure skill acquisition. Additionally, the results can be used to measure employee progress against a previously agreed-upon training schedule.


Upskilling and reskilling will continue to be a key factors in the success of businesses. Companies can take advantage of technology-driven learning platforms to provide employees with access to quality education and training. In addition, companies can look to industry experts and thought leaders like Educate 360 to develop targeted training programs that meet the needs of their employees. Investing in upskilling and reskilling will not only help businesses succeed today but also prepare them for the future. By investing in their workforce, businesses can ensure they stay competitive and position themselves for success in the coming years.

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