Upskilling is essential for businesses to stay relevant. As a result of an ageing workforce, redundancies, and the Great Resignation, addressing skill gaps in organisations will likely become even harder.
Not only that, but employee turnover rates will also increase if employees don’t see a future within their current company. If people feel like they’ve stopped learning, their wage doesn’t reflect their new duties, or that their hard work is underappreciated, they’ll look elsewhere for a new challenge.
While upskilling is an endeavour that takes a lot of time and money, it won’t cost employers nearly as much as it would to hire new staff. After all, it can take months to find the right employees, and thousands of dollars to replace them.
In this article, we look at the key steps L&D and HR teams need to take to develop their own upskilling programme and the best formats for learning, including collaborative learning.
If you want to ensure your upskilling programme is adopted by all employees, you need to start on the right foot.
Here’s how to go about it.
Upskilling programmes serve two functions: to help employees develop higher skills they already possess, or to learn totally new skills that allow employees to take on more advanced projects.
Looking to get started with conducting a skills audit? Check out our free training needs analysis template.
When identifying skill gaps, consider what you’ll need in the near future. Skills are constantly evolving and changing, so you’ll need to be able to plug the skill gaps quickly.
On that note, ask yourself if your industry is experiencing a rise in technological advancements and what skills will no longer be required. If you plan on creating a new product or service, think about if you require specific skills for these new projects and what they are.
Both this section and the one before it help gear employees up for a meaningful upskilling experience. This gets them excited for what’s to come, as long as you’re transparent and honest.
For some people, change is difficult to deal with. Your employees want to know why something is being done—business decisions affect their lives. A top-down management style rife with a “because I said so” narrative will only create stress and resistance.
If you want to get your employees on board with upskilling, here’s how to do it:
You and your employees are in this together, so treat your employees like their inclusion in the programme is important. That, above anything else, will keep your employees invested.
If your employee's upskilling goals are difficult to attain, your employees are going to zone out or feel unmotivated if they miss the mark. A one-size-fits-all approach won’t be a practical solution. The best thing to do is set individual goals using the SMART goals format.
A goal that's specific, challenging, and time-bound will benefit your employees. Not only will upskilling seem attainable, but goal-setting will help employees take ownership of their learning.
Next up? How to pick a learning format that is right for your employees.
The types of training methods you choose will depend on your learning objectives, requirements, and resources. There are several ways people learn, and different formats can cater to those styles.
Live instructor-led training, be it virtual or in person, is when a constructor conducts face-to-face training with groups or individuals in a classroom using workshops, presentations, or lectures.
Instructor-led training is customizable, collaborative, and feedback-friendly because instructors are able to advise immediately. If you hire skilled experts, this format can produce the best outcome. For example, people who try Lingoda's German classes learn faster than when they use language books or apps because their classrooms are led by language experts.
Peer-to-peer learning is when peers support each other through the learning process. This style is effective because it creates a “learning loop,” which includes gaining knowledge, practising, getting feedback, and reflecting on learned content.
A great example of a peer-to-peer learning platform is 360Learning, a learning management system (LMS) that seeks to maximize collaboration. Features, such as discussion forums, upvotes, reactions, editing, and commenting offer space for meaningful interactions.
Mentoring is when a less experienced employee is paired with a more experienced employee for the purpose of upskilling.
A mentorship programme is beneficial for both parties. The mentor will feel fulfilled because they’re recognised for their knowledge, which improves their leadership skills. The mentee, in return, feels more confident because they can increase their competence or learn a needed skill.
Job rotation is when an employee switches jobs with another employee. By the end of the exercise, employees either return to their role with more experience or enter into a new role. This learning format can cross-train employees who may need to fill in at the last minute.
Self-learning is when an organisation provides employees with online learning resources, such as podcasts, courses, webinars, or YouTube channels, to facilitate a flexible learning programme.
A self-learning programme allows employees to learn when they want, where they want. Plus, it gives them access to an online resource they can refer to in the flow of work.
As you can see, any learning style can improve engagement if you use them effectively. It’s a good idea to experiment with each format to understand the best option for your employees.
Typically, your decision between an in-house programme or outsourcing revolves around your time and cash flow. With that said, employees can be engaged with either if they’re high-quality.
An in-house training programme offers a high level of customisation, relevance, and security—it’s one of the best ways to plug skill gaps for the jobs of today and tomorrow because it relies on your subject-matter experts (SMEs). You get to scale your learning and development efforts while keeping the knowledge in-house.
Outsourcing is beneficial for L&D teams who haven’t created their own courses in the past. Since you’ll be paired with external subject-matter experts, any general course will be developed quickly.
If you want something more customized, it may take the outsourcing company much longer to complete, and edits can become really expensive. Some outsourcing companies may feel certain processes or policies aren’t worth the trouble and may ask you to teach them anyway. In this scenario, it’s best to rely on your internal SMEs.
With your upskilling programme now up and running, you now need a plan of action to engage your employees long-term.
Believe it or not, initially engaging your employees is the easy part. Ongoing engagement is the tricky part, but you can do the following two things to keep your employees on board long-term.
69% of employees say they’d work harder if their efforts were more recognised. You can show your employees you’re proud of their progress by providing positive feedback.
Organisations can keep track of employee progress by using an LMS. HR and L&D teams can use this information to adjust goals or monitor if/when employees need help. If your organisation has enough resources, it can showcase learning success stories to motivate future employees.
Once the employee has developed or gained new skills, encourage them to apply for internal positions or take on extra projects. Not only will this prove you’re committed to upskilling, but it also builds employee engagement, organisational resistance, and hard-to-fill roles.
Organisations everywhere need to focus on improving their employee's skills and working abilities through upskilling. At a time when the global economy is on a downtrend and businesses cannot afford the limited workforce they have, upskilling is the solution to the skills shortage.
But to effectively plug the skill gaps for the jobs of today and tomorrow, organisations must be able to continuously upskill, faster than ever before, and collaborating with internal subject-matter experts is the way to achieve this.
Ready to see collaborative learning in action? Speak to one of our specialists today.