The way we work is transforming as we speak. As a result, top enterprises are upskilling employees to refocus their workforce strategies so they can meet market demand and forecast, react to, and fill skills gaps.

Upskilling is the training process that expands employees’ capabilities to fulfill the talent needs of a quickly changing economy. Nationwide recently announced a five-year investment of $160 million to offer all of its 28,000 U.S. employees digital literacy and “future capabilities” training. Nationwide’s substantial investment in upskilling employees aims to prepare its workforce for the increasingly tech-heavy future economy.

Nationwide is not alone in its investment to become a top upskill enterprise. Last July, Amazon committed $700 million to upskill its workforce, and in 2018, AT&T announced a $1 billion multi-year effort to upskill its workers.

These companies are among many that understand the importance of investing in human capital. Upskill initiatives unlock workforce skills, maximize productivity, create viable career pathways, increase employee engagement and retention, and allow organizations to restructure efficiently.

When determining the best approach to upskill your employees, it is imperative to follow the lead of top upskill enterprises and adopt a strategic process. Here are three important criteria to consider.

  1. Define and Quantify Workforce Goals

Skill shortages can constrain organizations’ ability to innovate and adopt new technologies and reduce overall productivity. But what skills does your organization require to thrive in the short- and long-term? Determining the answer to this question requires careful consideration as skill needs continue to evolve rapidly.

Top enterprises establish skill needs anticipation systems that share several common features including well-coordinated, stakeholder-owned objectives. While the overarching goal is typically broad–“to build a pipeline of higher-skilled workers to meet current and future business demands and maximize the skill levels and confidence of existing employees,” for example, specific quantitative objectives are necessary as well.

Clearly defining quantitative goals is essential to determine the effectiveness of any workforce development program. For example, if you want to increase the number of employees proficient in MS Visio® software by 15% as an upskilling initiative, outline how it will contribute to a specific goal such as making it easier to fill chronically vacant positions.

  1. Conduct Skills Analyses

With the main objectives clearly defined, it is important to obtain an accurate picture of your current workforce skills. Data on skill needs is essential to informing and developing a systematic and comprehensive upskill initiative.

The first step in a thorough data collection process is conducting a skills analysis for each team member. Doing so enables organizations to identify skills deficits and mismatches. Administer skills tests designed to assess the skills needed for particular positions or projects and quantify the skills gap between the employee and new requirements. eSkill’s user-friendly dashboard and comprehensive library of easy-to-configure employment assessments make it easy to measure employees’ skills, organize the data, and share the results instantly.

Create individualized skills development plans for each employee, defining the steps and training that is necessary to address new skill requirements. For example, the results of eSkill’s I.T. Support Skills Test may show an individual is proficient in hardware and system administration skills but lacks a working knowledge of  Microsoft Windows 10®. Training can then target only the skill deficit rather than reteaching concepts already mastered.

  1. Evaluate and Scale Successful Upskill Programs

Top companies continuously measure results of upskilling initiatives to determine their effectiveness and make strategic decisions. For example, Amazon recently announced it “will continue to pilot new upskilling programs and quickly scale them once they are proven to be successful.”

Without a streamlined system to track workers’ progress, it is almost impossible to accurately determine if initiatives implemented to upskill your employees are successful. So, human resources (HR) departments should leverage digital HR tools, such as eSkill’s employment assessment platform, to monitor the results of upskilling programs.

In today’s fast-changing and uncertain corporate landscape, it is paramount that your organization can pivot to meet demands. Taking the time to assess your workforce’s current and future skill needs and develop targeted programs to upskill employees will future-proof your organization well beyond short-term considerations.

Investing in upskilling employees now will help your business build a highly-skilled talent pool and lay the framework for continued workforce development programs that will enable your organization to succeed in the digital era.

Interested in Implementing a Program to Upskill Your Employees?

Learn more about the benefits of using eSkill’s customizable skills tests to measure current skills and for upskilling employees.

Request a demo today.

Adina Miron

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