Sumit Sabharwal

Why Upskilling is the Key For The Future of Work | Sumit Sabharwal | Vice President-HR | Fujitsu Global Delivery Centers

Sumit SabharwalWith the rapid change in the global business landscape, apart from employee benefit essentials such as healthcare and stock options, companies must also provide substantial upskilling and reskilling options if they want to retain their best talent. In a recent study by an eminent consulting agency, found out that 79 percent of CEOs are concerned about their workforce’s existing skills and ability to meet dynamic needs. Employees have also, in recent times, realized the importance of upskilling or reskilling themselves to earn coveted roles.

Learning and development (L&D) teams have always had two major goals: equipping workers with the skills they need to do their current jobs and allowing workers to develop skills they need to advance in their careers and serve the evolving needs of the organization. The rapid transformation of the professional landscape means that these are moving targets. Today, the skills that workers need to keep their jobs are changing frequently, and movement within an organization can look a lot different today than the traditional career path.

It is simply not enough for workers to learn their jobs, and then relearn for the next higher role. Today, workers need to continuously learn and adapt to stay effective. Therefore L&D experts say that upskilling and reskilling are their top priorities, not only because they provide employees with the versatility and growth needed to thrive in today’s environment, but also because it is tremendously beneficial for the organization in the long run.

What do we mean by upskilling and reskilling?

Reskilling allows employees to learn new skills in a different path from their current career direction, exploring various areas of interest and broadening skillsets. This includes lateral skills training across departments or trying on new roles.

Upskilling is far more linear and focuses on developing existing skills to progress in current roles. It allows employees to take up new assignments, attend workshops, conferences, and work with a mentor before a promotion.

Why is upskilling important today?

“Faster. Cheaper. Better.” has now evolved to “Smarter. Resilient. Emphatic. Agile”. This transition of the workplace has fueled the need and want of upskilling and reskilling initiatives for organizations. Hence, upskilling is vital for both – employers and employees. Talent leaders who can offer upskilling to employees will boost employee retention rates in their companies.

In today’s times, there is increased anxiety over the risk of automation due to the developments of artificial intelligence. Half of the employees are concerned their current skill sets will be redundant by 2024. Those willing to reskill could be in line for a salary hike.  Most workers believe upskilling has improved their quality of life and standard of living.

For organizations to keep up and stay competitive, there is a need to invest in the biggest asset – employees. Investing in people can also help the organization avoid disruption, impacting productivity and revenue. In addition, research has found that when employees feel their employer is investing in their development and growth, they are less likely to resign.

Skills becoming redundant sooner

Research from the World Economic Forum demonstrates that we are in a time of rapid change. As technology, like automation, takes over and makes some jobs redundant, workers will need to reskill to move into new positions and roles, or they will be left unemployed.

The worst possible scenario is that millions could be left without jobs. That, in turn, will put pressure on governments and social support spending. Organizations play a key role in how ready we are for the future of work. If you want to be an organization that attracts top talent, you will need to invest in them. Professional development and career growth opportunities are very valuable to employees.

Strategize and plan reskilling and upskilling

Deciding on a strategy to upskill or reskill your employees may take some planning and time. However, it is important to start with a skills gap analysis. This means looking at what skills your employees need to remain competitive.

Once you understand the skill gap your organization has, you will be prepared to develop a plan or strategy. An easy way to overcome the skills gap is to create training opportunities.

Also, an alternative to enhance employee upskilling or reskilling training is mentoring and peer coaching. Peers can act as coaches to help colleagues develop skills, causing them to grow. It establishes a safe  tmosphere for employees to ask questions, experiment, and be guided rather than directed.

Virtual training courses are an effective tool for employee development. Some organizations create their own online learning platform, while others rely on established training platforms. Investing in a blended learning program could also be a good idea.

In recent years, upskilling and reskilling have become common terms for those in the workforce. More businesses have begun to realize than ever before, the importance of investing in employee happiness and growth, which give rich dividends in the long run.