Two men, one older and white-bearded and one younger with dark curly hair, stand side-by-side at a drafting board. The older man, who wears a bright blue blazer and a gray newsboy cap, uses a handheld scanner to check the quality of the printout on the board. He holds the rectangular block-shaped scanner over one of the pictures on the printout. The young man, who wears red overalls over a white T-shirt, observes him.
When working on up- or reskilling your employees, invest in your employees' existing skills by having more experienced workers help to develop learning courses. — Getty Images/Halfdark

Reskilling and upskilling are two related but different initiatives that can allow employers to make the most of their workforce’s aptitudes and talents without having to source new talent that may not necessarily be available. For employees, this means advancing current skills \or building new ones within the same job or organization, which could ultimately improve retention in an already-challenging labor market.

When it comes to reskilling, you can find someone with similar or adjacent skills to those needed for a particular position and train them for that new role. With upskilling, on the other hand, you are teaching current employees higher-level or new skills to meet a need or opening. Both of these strategies can be used to help your business meet workforce gaps without needing to recruit new employees.

How reskilling and upskilling addresses the talent crisis

Whether caused by the pandemic or generational differences, the United States is facing a worker shortage that doesn’t seem to be solving itself anytime soon. According to data from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, students in the United States are pursuing degrees in business, education, and health professions while jobs in high demand for the next decade are likely to be statisticians and substance misuse counselors. Additionally, technology adaptations mean that every field is always changing.

Businesses that use upskilling and reskilling can directly address any skill gaps, making their output more successful. Just as individuals must adapt themselves to changing markets, so do businesses. Through upskilling and reskilling, businesses and their employees can stay flexible and mold to the hottest areas of the changing market. In fact, most workers are willing to reskill for different jobs, and anyone regardless of age or profession can make themself a more competitive job candidate for their current field or a new one.

Reskilling and upskilling can also improve employee retention rates by demonstrating to team members that upper management values them and is willing to support their individual improvement.

[Read more: 5 Ways to Find an Employee Upskilling or Reskilling Program]

Instead of offering all of your skill programming in separate categories, consider ways you can incorporate multiple skills into specific scenarios.

Reskilling and upskilling strategies for your business

When turning your attention to skilling, don’t shortchange yourself by choosing the cheapest option available. Instead, invest in skilling development that can have a real impact on your business’s success. Here are a few ways your company can better manage its talent pipeline with a solid reskilling and upskilling program.

Mix it up and keep it fun

Reskilling and upskilling shouldn’t be a chore for your employees to complete or sit through. Bypass lectures or recorded material and get creative about modules and assessments. Incorporate hands-on, real-world elements whenever possible. Listen to employee feedback about what kind of programming they enjoy and what works best for their learning styles.

Invest in your skilling structure

When planning your reskilling and upskilling programs, incorporate lessons, content, assessments, training, and technology. You can either designate in-house team members to develop the course or pay for pre-prepared packages. Outside modules are best for specific, straightforward skills, like how to use a particular software.

Blend different skills together instead of forcing your team to choose

Instead of offering all of your skill programming in separate categories, consider ways you can incorporate multiple skills into specific scenarios. For example, you could list soft skills, design, and problem-solving as separate modules or create practice projects where all of those skills are being utilized.

[Read more: Are There Skill Gaps On Your Team?]

Encourage your employees to take an active role

Upskilling and reskilling can make your team stronger and help them do better work for you, but the process can also make your employees more well-rounded and give them an edge if they hope to make a career change or branch out.

Factor in data

Use AI programs to help figure out where your employees need to grow based on their history or goals. Data can also help you track progress, so compile diagnostic data before embarking on your upskilling and reskilling journey.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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