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Upskilling and reskilling: the differences and benefits

In today's fast-paced business world, there are always new things to learn and additional skills you’ll need. It might be the constant evolution of new technology; some skills gaps have been identified; or your staff might need some professional development or a refresher in soft skills.

Almost all businesses need to invest in personal growth to some degree to stay ahead.

That's where upskilling and reskilling come into play. Here is a guide to help you see which approach is the right fit for your business and your staff.

What is upskilling?

Upskilling is all about enhancing and expanding the current skills and knowledge of your employees. The goal is to keep them up to date with the latest industry trends, best practices and even latest versions of any technology they currently use, so they can continue to work to their full potential.

Upskilling is great for a few reasons:

  • Keeping your talent: By offering opportunities for professional growth, upskilling shows your commitment to investing in your employees. This can even boost employee satisfaction and loyalty long-term.
  • Bridging skill gaps: Identify the specific skills your business needs, and provide upskilling programs to address those gaps. This means that your employees will have the necessary skills to meet changing job requirements.
  • Leveraging internal expertise: Upskilling taps into the existing knowledge of your employees. By developing new skills, you can harness their expertise to improve overall performance.

What is reskilling?

Reskilling is about training employees in new skill sets to prepare them for different roles or responsibilities. It focuses on equipping them with the skills needed to adapt to technology, industry shifts or changes in your business direction. Reskilling is helpful when:

  • Industry changes: When your industry undergoes changes, reskilling can help employees move into new roles or adapt to emerging job requirements. This ultimately keeps your business agile in the face of disruption.
  • Embracing technology: As technology evolves, reskilling means that your employees can use new tools and platforms to do their job more efficiently. It maximises the benefits of automation, artificial intelligence (AI) and other emerging technologies.
  • Promoting diversity and inclusion: Reskilling allows employees from different backgrounds to gain new skills, promoting inclusivity and creating a more dynamic workforce.

So what is the right approach for your business? Consider these guidelines.

  1. Assess current and future skill needs: Do you know what skills are required for your business's ongoing success? Can you identify any gaps in skills of your current team? Based on your results, you can then determine whether upskilling or reskilling is the best solution, or a combination of both.
  2. Involve employees in the decision-making process: Engage your employees in conversations about their aspirations, interests and openness to new opportunities. Their input can guide your decision-making and ensure their buy-in to any changes that might affect them.
  3. Blend upskilling and reskilling: Sometimes, a combination of both approaches works best. Tailor development plans for each employee based on their individual needs..
  4. Foster continuous learning: By setting aside time to focus on the skill needs of your business and your employees you are encouraging a culture of learning which is positive outcome.
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