MindEdge Online Learning

Bridging the Skills Gap With Upskilling and Reskilling


Bridging the Skills Gap With Upskilling and Reskil …

Blog Post Heading

Blog Post Content

By Paul Terranova
Editor, MindEdge Learning

In today’s rapidly evolving business and economic landscape, organizations are under more pressure than ever to stay competitive.

These demands require a proactive approach to employee development and training—and employees are ready to take advantage of these opportunities. According to a recent study by Deloitte, 68% of workers are willing to retrain “in any case” and 28% of workers are willing to retrain “if necessary.”

As technology advances and many industries undergo significant transformations (some predictable, some not), organizations must prioritize upskilling and reskilling their workforces to ensure relevance, innovation, competition, and sustainable growth.

While both terms involve enhancing the skills and capabilities of employees, “upskilling” and “reskilling” address different needs and objectives within an organization. Upskilling builds on a foundation of knowledge and experience that an individual already possesses. Reskilling, by contrast, equips an individual with entirely new skills, which may or may not be related to their current role or area of expertise.

Here are some practical strategies that organizations can utilize to upskill and reskill their workforces in 2024:

  • Customized training programs that align organizations’ needs and goals by addressing current and emerging skill demands
  • Formal and informal opportunities for mentoring and coaching to foster a supportive learning environment and facilitate the transfer of organizational knowledge and skill development
  • A culture of continuous learning that creates an environment in which employees are encouraged and excited to seek out new skills independently

Organizations should also encourage employees to collaborate with their supervisors and managers to design personalized development plans, using self-assessment tools that identify employees’ strengths and weaknesses

Whether through upskilling, reskilling, or on-the-job experience, it is vital that employees develop hard and soft skills. A recent report from the World Economic Forum identified analytical and critical thinking, along with active learning strategies, as the most in-demand skills among today’s employers. Not coincidentally, they are also the top skills being offered in employer-sponsored training programs. Clearly, organizations want employees who exhibit resilience, flexibility, leadership qualities, and innovative thinking.

Employers also find value in offering tuition-assistance programs. According to the Deloitte survey, three-quarters of employers reported that tuition-assistance programs provide a return-on-investment. The same number of employers also reported that their programs improve employee attention and engagement.

As automation and artificial intelligence reshape, reorganize, and eliminate jobs—and, in some cases, entire professions—organizations must prepare their workforces for these technological disruptions. But even as many companies are getting serious about upskilling and reskilling, the skills gap continues to get wider. One major reason: discrepancies between the employer’s goals for upskilling and reskilling, and the goals of employees.

Where Employers and Employees Differ

While employees prioritize business and financial skills, certifications, credentials, and hard skills, employers put a higher value on critical thinking and problem-solving, creativity and innovation, communication skills, and subject matter expertise. According to a 2023 survey of U.S. workers and employers by DeVry University, eight-of-10 employers offer some sort of upskilling or reskilling program—but only 51% of employees utilize these programs.

The survey concludes that employers and employees need to find common ground, which is possible because hard and soft skills are embedded in nearly all credential-type programs. But beyond the issue of common ground, employers and employees are also divided over the fundamental issue of time.

The DeVry survey found that 61% of workers believe it is their employers’ responsibility to help them learn new skills on company time. Yet the survey also found that 43% of employers are not willing to allow workers to upskill on company time. They cite both the expense of such training and the lack of skilled personnel available to provide it.

Ultimately, employers who seriously want to benefit from the untapped potential of their employees must work with those employees to identify and implement upskilling opportunities that work with their schedules. Organizations which insist that employees are completely responsible for finding time to upskill and reskill on their own are doing a grave disservice to those employeers—especially those who are:

  • Primary caregivers
  • Parents or guardians
  • People with second jobs

People have countless other responsibilities outside of work. Employers who dismiss this basic reality with a comment along the lines of “that’s life” will likely be metaphorically shooting themselves in the foot when it comes to meeting their future workforce needs. According to more than 9,000 business and HR leaders surveyed by Deloitte, 73% agree that organizations are responsible for developing their workforces. And the need for workforce development is acute: 79% of global CEOs say they are “extremely” or “somewhat” concerned about the availability of the right skills in the future.

Just as employers and executives perform a cost-benefit analysis for an upskilling or reskilling training program, employees perform a similar analysis, asking themselves, “Is this program actually going to benefit me, or will this be a waste of my time?” While the DeVry survey found that an overwhelming 96% of workers and 97% of employers say that upskilling is “essential” or “nice” to have, only one-in-three workers think that their employers are living up to their responsibilities to upskill and prepare American workers for the future workplace.

Employers who are unsympathetic to the struggles and personal responsibilities of their employees are unlikely to identify the employees they need to upskill and reskill. More likely, these employees will look for opportunities elsewhere.

To take a look at the array of skills-training courses in MindEdge’s Professional Development and Continuing Education catalog, click here.

Copyright © 2024 MindEdge, Inc.