Many business leaders are asking why upskilling has suddenly become the new workforce development strategy. It is due to digital transformation.

The change occurring in learning and development (L&D) departments worldwide is driven by technology and its ability to disrupt work through the growing integration of automated processes and artificial intelligence (AI). Not only is innovation accelerating, but the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic downturn has forced business models and operations to shift at an unprecedented rate. As a result, there have been significant and rapid workforce reorganizations.

This means that existing jobs are evolving or becoming obsolete, and the skills required for positions are changing. The much anticipated “future of work” is upon us, expedited by the sudden onset of a global pandemic. This new reality requires businesses to have agile workforces that can quickly learn new skill sets so they can survive unforeseen shifts in business demands.

Applying a responsive upskilling initiative is an important step toward achieving an ROI on efforts to mitigate the impact of a quickly evolving world of work.

What is Upskilling?

The upskilling definition listed in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is “to provide (someone, such as an employee) with more advanced skills through additional education and training.”

While the upskill meaning used across organizations may differ slightly, the upskilling definition widely accepted amongst Human Resources (HR) and L&D professionals is the process of preparing the workforce to fill new positions created by shifts in required jobs and skills. Although the upskill meaning defined by various organizations differs slightly, the core focus remains the same: to facilitate continuous learning by providing training and development opportunities that expand an employee’s existing abilities and minimize skill gaps.

Mitigate the Impact of a Today’s Unpredictable Labor Market

The labor market went from candidate-driven in 2019 with a 50-year low unemployment rate, to absolutely unpredictable in the blink of an eye. In the post-pandemic era, the labor market is experiencing frequent and rapid shifts in the jobs and skills that are in high demand. These shifts are impacting new entrants to the labor market and forcing businesses to prepare existing workers to adapt.

Today, workforce development is changing to account for skills that have shorter and shorter half-lives. Companies now require responsive, versatile, and on-demand skills-based training to ensure employees are equipped to support business agility. To develop upskilling initiatives that lay the groundwork for workforces to rapidly acquire the skills needed to meet new demands, businesses must implement strategic processes for tracking skills.

eSkill’s innovative employment assessment platform enables employers to quantitatively and qualitatively measure employees’ skillsets. With a user-friendly dashboard, the results of skills assessments can provide a list of upskilling opportunities and track the effectiveness of training and development. Understanding workforce needs in-depth can yield positive results to your upskilling programs and enhance the learning experience.

Shared Value for Businesses and Employees

Upskilling is a win-win because providing employees with upskilling opportunities creates shared value for both businesses and workers. Much like healthcare and retirement benefits, employees find career development opportunities as a reason to remain loyal to an organization. While developing skills amongst internal talent is now an imperative for business success, it also serves as a benefit for the employees learning the skills.

Almost all employees surveyed (94%) in LinkedIn’s 2019 Workforce Learning Report named upskilling opportunities as a reason they would stay with a company long-term. Now employers must view upskilling initiatives both as an employee benefit and a strategic investment that supports business agility.

Upskilling Improves the Bottom Line

Given the unpredictable shift in the skillsets businesses need to meet new demands, upskilling provides a cost-effective approach to plugging the demand-supply gap. By focusing upskilling efforts on entry-level, and low- and mid-skilled workers whose positions are at risk of becoming obsolete or disrupted by technological advancements, organizations can greatly reduce the need to recruit, hire, and train new talent.

Upskilling also increases the efficiencies of existing employees. The Capgemini Research Institute found that “employees who benefit from upskilling can move to more value-added activities, thus driving more output for the organization.”  Moving to a training model that focuses on teaching employees skills that streamline their jobs improves employee retention and increases productivity.

Workforce development models that have been used for decades are quickly becoming obsolete because they are slow to track workforce skills and align relevant training opportunities in real-time. With eSkill’s employment skills tests, employers can easily track and monitor workforce skillsets and proficiency levels.

A new era of workforce development is upon us, and its agility, adaptability, and on-demand. HR and L&D professionals who successfully implement upskilling programs will develop future-proof workforces.

Interested in Leveraging Skills Tests to Upskill Your Employees?

Learn more about the benefits of using eSkill’s employment skills tests to implement and monitor targeted training programs to upskill your employees.

Request a demo today.

Adina Miron

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