Why Upskilling Is Key For Future Of Work? | Aparna Sharma| Consulting Editor| The People Management

AparnaIn recent years, Upskilling has become a significant phrase in the HR vocabulary. But what is upskilling, and what does it mean?

Also, is there a certain way to implement a workforce upskilling strategy and how? What’s more, discover why it’s not only crucial for employee retention rates but business growth and development.

The basics: firstly, what is Upskilling vs. Reskilling?

Upskilling is the process of taking your skills and knowledge in a certain area to a new level, while the term Reskilling involves learning new skills so you can do a different job. Upskilling primarily focuses on helping employees become more skilled and relevant at their current position within the organization.

According to a report published by Gallup, the cost of replacing an individual employee can range from one and a half to two times the employee’s annual salary—and that’s a conservative estimate.

Upskilling is a much smaller investment than hiring and training a new worker. As you reskill employees’, you create a more well-rounded, cross-trained workforce, that can increase your team’s effectiveness. So, why is upskilling crucial for future workplace development?

How to upskill your workforce

The following upskilling examples offer some methods for continued Learning and Development (L&D) in the workplace.

The most effective upskilling strategies incorporate several techniques that make the most of existing internal skills and external resources. Each business must align its methods with its business objectives and requirements. Also, remember to consider different learning styles and balance these against individual employees’ needs.

1. Continuous training

The most efficient way of upskilling in the workplace is simply by the level of accountability or broadening the workload to a member of staff. This is best achieved by asking senior employees to act as mentors, or by bringing separate departments together to operate collaboratively (peer-to-peer mentoring and training).

2. E-learning

If you’re looking to upskill employees in the workplace, online e-learning platform-tools offer a manageable and cost-effective upskilling strategy. There are online e-learning platforms for just about every business sector and industry, offering cutting-edge resources that offer verified qualifications. Employees’ can study at their own pace from their desk, eliminating travel costs, and time spent away from the office making it a flexible option to consider.

3. Seminars/Webinars

Allowing employees time away from the office to attend relevant seminars or participate in a webinar is another successful upskilling strategy. As well as gaining exposure to industry trends and learning from sector heads, they will also have the chance to network with their industry peers.

Upskilling & reskilling – what are the differences?

While both sound similar, they both have different roles and purposes within L&D strategies.


To upskill is to implement training that improves an employee’s existing skillset, allowing them to progress in their current role and bring added value to a company.


To reskill is to primarily retrain a member of staff for a new job role. This method is generally used when an employee’s job has become non-essential, and the employer looks to retain the employee by training them in a different discipline.

The answer: Although mainly associated with advancements in technology, upskilling and reskilling are also vital for the highly-competitive and evolving business environment, making them both equally critical elements of a powerful business strategy.

Why is upskilling more crucial than ever?

Essentially, upskilling is key for the future of workplace growth and staff retention rates. A report from McKinsey & Company states that organizations who undertook  upskilling/reskilling  during the global COVID-19 pandemic, have emerged stronger from the crisis.

Upskilling the workforce will not only mean you stand out from industry competition by having agile, diverse, and creative employees that are continuously learning, adapting, and acquiring new skills but can avoid financial pitfalls through recruiting new employees.

Upskilling current staff members is an indispensable practice to retain staff and save external hiring costs.