Businesses need specialized talent to meet market demands. This is a situation that is unlikely to change. But as market conditions, technologies and organizational requirements evolve, so will the skills in demand. Throughout history, forces such as globalization have reshaped the jobs of most workers. Technology, including artificial intelligence, is set to revolutionize these positions even more.
Soon, some jobs may no longer exist, and many will look different than they do now. Other roles that companies have not yet dreamed of will be necessary. These are serious reasons businesses cannot afford to be complacent. Fortunately, leaders have two highly effective talent development tools at their disposal: upskilling and upskilling.
Upgrading and retraining employees prepares companies for the changes that are happening now. These activities also make businesses ready to handle rapidly approaching developments that may require more flexibility. As businesses plan for changes in talent needs, several factors will make upskilling and reskilling necessary in 2023.
Key differences between upgrading and retraining
Although there is some correlation between the two approaches, upskilling differs from reskilling in that it does not seek to move someone into a new role. Upskilling enhances an employee’s existing skills by teaching them new tricks of the trade. A position may require brand new knowledge, but there is still a business need for it. An example of an upgrade is an IT technician taking certification courses in newly released software.
Instead, upskilling prepares today’s workers for different roles. The positions they have held for several years may be on the way out. While there is no longer a market demand for the existing skills of workers, the business does not want to replace them. Instead, the company can train these workers to initiate career changes.
The emergence of artificial intelligence is a clear driver of this phenomenon. Let’s say that artificial intelligence will eliminate receptionist jobs in the next few years. HR departments could identify employees in receptionist positions and offer to train them for various customer service specialist roles. The training these workers receive equips them with the skills they need for the transition. Retraining does not simply build on existing skills, but can increase transferable ones.
The benefits of upskilling
Many managers believe that talent walks out the door because of money. While they aren’t necessarily wrong about this, low pay isn’t the only contributing factor. Lack of career development is one of the main drivers of turnover in organizations, regardless of industry. Employees don’t want to feel stuck in a dead-end job. They want to be challenged, take on extended tasks and advance their careers.
Progress does not always mean a rise in management. Pushing an employee into a senior specialist position with new responsibilities can keep them committed to the organization. Upskilling is one way to give employees the learning opportunities they desire. It also creates an internal pipeline of talent, saving the company from having to find external candidates for senior positions.
When employees see a business investing in their career development, it can boost productivity. Learning opportunities tend to increase job satisfaction, which leads to better results. And improved skill sets themselves contribute to more desirable business outcomes.
The benefits of retraining
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development predicts that technology will transform 1.1 billion jobs over the next decade. Artificial intelligence and machine learning will be behind many of these changes. The shift to green technology and the aftershocks of the pandemic will also play a role. Business leaders will likely face widening skills gaps if they do not implement retraining programs.
There may be more than shortages between available workers and open positions to worry about. Differences in the skills required by the roles and the knowledge employees have could create additional problems. Staff members will not be skilled enough to transition into roles needed to run businesses. And finding skilled talent outside the organization will become more expensive than it is today.
Upskilling shows that leaders are thinking about the future. Once a role becomes irrelevant or unnecessary, it is an unnecessary exit. Staff members who hear rumors of downsizing are more likely to jump ship. Those who stay may become increasingly disaffected as their roles lose meaning, making it a challenge for the business to remain competitive. When companies prepare employees for what’s coming, they can avoid layoffs, voluntary departures, and loss of morale and productivity among employees who stay.
The ability to adapt to change is what allows companies to survive. Even better, getting ahead of the curve also increases a business’s chances of thriving. Although not every leader is good at innovation, almost everyone can analyze trends and developments. Without resource shifts, pivoting business models to meet emerging realities is nearly impossible.
Upskilling and retraining programs make manpower more flexible. The person who excels at providing routine customer support can learn to extend these skills to the growing backlog of complex requests. Similarly, companies in declining industries can retool for emerging sectors, such as green energy.
When a business is agile, the risk of becoming a forgotten name is reduced. When staff members have up-to-date skills, companies don’t have to worry about how to meet market demands. Businesses gain cost savings through different work models, such as remote teamwork. And employees with well-rounded skills can take on new or expanded roles in less time.
The Business Case for Skills Development
Without talented staff, a company is just an entity on paper. People are needed to develop customer relationships, manage technologies, and achieve growth goals. But as the business world changes, workers need skills training to keep up with the times. Without adequate learning opportunities, workers and the businesses that employ them run the risk of becoming obsolete.