Upskilling And Reskilling: Definition And Comparison

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 15 September 2022

Published 5 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Upskilling and reskilling are two strategies that companies can use to expand the skills of their employees. This can allow employees to take on additional responsibilities or move to new roles. If you want to implement these strategies in your workplace, it is helpful to understand how each strategy works. In this article, we examine the definition of upskilling and reskilling, explain why they are important, outline the differences between them and discuss how they differ from external hiring.

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What Is Upskilling And Reskilling?

Upskilling and reskilling are very important for a company, as they expand the functioning of the company by helping its employees build their skills. Companies invest in upskilling to prepare for the future or adapt to changing demands in skills. It can allow an employee to take on additional responsibilities or gain promotions to a new role. When companies implement upskilling, they typically create a strategy and conduct training events to help employees develop new skills. Because of their institutional knowledge, companies frequently urge their employees to gain additional skills.

Reskilling is the process of teaching employees new skills for them to take on additional duties or begin a new position with the company. This allows a company to work on new projects while also investing in its current employees. Companies usually place a high value on lateral abilities, which are skills that an employee possesses. This may make it easier for them to adjust to a new position at the organisation. The following are some ‌advantages of reskilling:

  • Increasing the capabilities of a firm

  • Improving adaptability

  • Reducing the ‌time and money it takes to hire new staff

  • Retaining top talent

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Upskilling Vs Reskilling

Although these terms may sound similar, they serve different purposes and typically come to an implementation stage for different reasons. Upskilling is teaching employees new skills or improving existing ones to help them grow in their professions. Reskilling‌ includes training individuals so that they can move between jobs within the same organisation.

In short, reskilling and upskilling may help businesses obtain the skills they can use to stay competitive. Both help fill a company's skill or talent gap, but ‌there is a distinction to make between reskilling and upskilling. These tactics can assist a company in retaining personnel, increasing employee morale and fostering a sense of belonging among workers. They can also help to boost workplace productivity.

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Why Are Upskilling And Reskilling Strategies Important?

Upskilling and reskilling are critical because they allow companies to respond to changes in skill demand. Because technology is transforming workforces, many companies may find themselves with a skills gap between their employees and the abilities that their industry requires. They can bridge this gap through these two strategies while also investing in their current workforce.

Companies can use either technique to establish new roles and responsibilities while leveraging their existing employees' knowledge and experience. Employee skill development can assist a company in achieving its objectives, allowing it to grow and remain competitive. Employees can benefit from these two strategies, as they allow them to explore their existing skill sets, identify new skills and get the maximum benefit from them. Employee satisfaction may improve because of this.

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Benefits Of Reskilling And Upskilling

Upskilling is about specialisation and reskilling is about versatility. To prosper amidst technological changes, you may require both strategies. Almost every business owner benefits from having their employees learn new skills on the job.

It is logical to introduce new skills to employees to help them meet new or existing demands. Because they have a greater understanding of what makes a company function, they may know who their target customers are, how to handle company operations and how to communicate effectively‌. New hires may not have this understanding and may require time to develop a similar understanding.

How To Build A Quality Upskilling Or Reskilling Programme?

Here are the steps for a company to build a highly effective upskilling or reskilling programme:

1. Determine where employees and the organisation requires assistance

The first step in establishing a high-quality programme is to examine a company's present and future needs. Because every company is different, it is critical to recognise the company's current capabilities and what it may require in the future. Understanding where you want the organisation to go and what is necessary to get there can help a business identify current and future gaps in the company. You can also conduct a formal skills gap analysis, which involves comparing the skills that employees have with the skills that your business needs.

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2. Create an environment of continuous learning

If a company wants to improve its career development programme, it can adopt a growth mentality and a culture of lifelong learning. Creating a learning environment is critical to the success of an upskilling or reskilling strategy. The company may have a procedure in place to quickly address skills gaps once it builds a culture of learning and develops relevant programmes.

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3. Make a plan to get to where you want to be in the future

It is important to set clear goals for employees. This helps employees to get from where they are now to where they want to be in the future. Setting goals can be an important part of an employee's career development plan. Employees are likely to fall into one of the following three categories:

  • Professionals who require new skills or technology to keep existing or similar jobs

  • Employees who require extensive reskilling to transition into different ‌occupations

  • Professionals that do not have a job progression lined up right away

A company can establish these three paths and determine which channel applies to each of its employees. After that, depending on which path the employees are on, it can design unique learning experiences for them. There is no one right way to create these learning paths, but setting each of them up can give better results. You may decide which methods of learning are most appropriate for each path.

4. Sponsor employees' access to education

Sponsoring employees' access to education is one of the finest ways to ensure the success of an upskilling strategy and reskilling strategy. There are a variety of measures an organisation can take to promote their employees' education. You can help your employees learn and advance by repaying student loan debt, providing on-the-job certifications and providing tuition reimbursement.

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5. Choose the best delivery method

An organisation can choose the best education delivery techniques for each individual employee. Based on what works best for them, staff members can choose specific types of learning. Younger employees are more likely to prefer online electronic learning options, whereas older employees are more likely to prefer traditional learning models. Make sure you provide employees with a variety of learning options so they can find the way that works best for them.

6. Personalise and customise programmes

Attempting to personalise and customise professional development options for individual employees is crucial to the success of any upskilling strategy programme or reskilling strategy programme. There can be no one right path for career development because an upskilling or reskilling plan is about addressing unique skill gaps within a company. Upskilling or reskilling requirements for employees may depend on their present abilities and role in the business and how their work is developing and what technologies they require to accomplish their job successfully.

Invest in a flexible upskilling or reskilling strategy that allows employees to focus on their individual areas of interest to optimise the success of a career development plan. You can customise your programme to accommodate differences in a team of professionals. Customising learning paths for employees is important because, by doing so, employees are more likely to engage themselves in an upskilling or reskilling plan.

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7. Get leadership to buy-in

Another method a company can employ to improve its career development programme is to gain leadership buy-in. A company's leadership may intend to significantly boost their expenditure on training and reskilling programmes. One of the most common issues surrounding additional investment in such programmes may be the existence of prohibitive expenses. Additionally, managers who are not well-informed can present challenges to programmes. Ensuring that managers realise the necessity of developing the potential of professionals who work for them can help sustain success.

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