Training & Learning

Your Teams Need These 3 Hard Skills to Succeed—Here’s How You Can Help Them Level-Up

There's a well-known skill gap in today's labour force, as technology rapidly improves and employers are tasked with hiring, training, and retaining employees with the necessary know-how.

While employers are constantly trying to hire employees with the right in-demand skillsets, another viable approach is upskilling your existing workforce.

By encouraging employees to acquire new hard skills, and developing training courses to encourage them to do so, you can ensure that you're retaining employees with the right skills to support your business's growth.

In this article, we'll take a look at the three most in-demand hard skills across a variety of industries, as well as ways you can enable employee upskilling for each of them.

What are the benefits of upskilling employees?

As mentioned earlier, companies are constantly looking for recruits that possess the right tech skills, and spending a lot of money to recruit them

Not only do you need to find talented employees who can do the job, but you also need to onboard them. According to Glassdoor, the average cost per hire is £3,000, and it takes 27.5 days to find and fill a vacancy.

On the other hand, upskilling your existing employees is just a fraction of the cost—in 2020, the average UK company spent only £1,530 per employee on training, which includes training courses.

With these statistics in hand, it becomes fairly obvious that upskilling your employees is a far more cost-effective option.

However, upskilling is more than just a cost-savings strategy, it also improves your employee experience, company culture, and retention rates. Studies show that when employees don't feel adequately trained, it leads to lower engagement and productivity levels.

Your employees will feel more loyal to your company and will think twice about jumping ships, because you invested in their training and gave them the skills to do their job.

Now that we've covered the most immediate benefits of upskilling your employees, let's take a look at some of the key hard skills that you should consider training your employees in. This isn't an exhaustive list, as different industries require different skill sets, but we've tried to include the most commonly requested skill sets across a variety of industries.

Looking for more employee training tips? Here's a handy checklist and make sure you cover all your bases.

employee training asset cover

Make sure you cover all your bases.

The most in-demand hard skills for employees in 2022

Recent surveys show that recruiters and Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) software are looking for a mixture of both hard skills and soft skills in resumes–an even mixture, in fact.

While we're going to summarise a short list of the most desirable hard skills with employee upskilling in mind, job-seekers are encouraged to check out some professional resume templates by Beamjobs, as well as their more in-depth list of the top 150 resume skills that recruiters want to see.

1. Data analysis

As companies have come to rely on data collection and analysis, this is one of the most in-demand hard skills in the job market. Data analysis is an umbrella term that covers a variety of disciplines, from interpreting and presenting data, to actually implementing machine learning or AI in a business.

Some of the top hard skills under the data analysis umbrella include:

  • SQL (e.g., optimizing SQL queries)
  • Business Intelligence Tools
  • Excel / Google Sheets
  • Data Visualization
  • Python / Java

Data analysis is particularly tricky to upskill for, because generally speaking, skilled data analysts should already have a bachelor's degree in a quantitative STEM field. However, that doesn't mean you can't still upskill your employees.

While most employees don't require certification in data analysis when hiring new employees, you should strongly consider enrolling your data analysts in a certification programme to increase their skillset.

Data analysis is a field with constantly evolving methodologies, so investing in certification programs for your employees is a good way of making sure they're equipped with the latest techniques.

2. Distributed computing

This skill falls under the field of computer sciences and refers to several architectures within distributed systems that allow multiple computing devices to share a single data centre or cloud.

Distributed computing can take many forms—it could be a cloud-based application, or a standalone service on a server that is run remotely. The most important skills for a distributed systems engineer to possess are:

  • Distributed Databases / File Systems / Blockchain Ledgers
  • Remote Procedure Call (RPC)
  • Sharding
  • Access Control Mechanisms

These skills may technically fall under the IT branch, but with cloud computing and the emergence of distributed computing, they're becoming an increasingly important part of any company's technology stack.

These aren't skills you can teach any IT employee overnight, as distributed systems is a complex field. It takes a mix of learning and experience to truly master this skill set, and to become a well-rounded distributed systems engineer.

However, you can send your employees to training programs that focus on developing hands-on experience in maintaining concurrent distributed systems and have them learn about best practices in distributed computing.

Related: Every Developer at 360Learning Knows Exactly Where Their Career Could Go—Here’s How

3. CRM and web analytics

While CRM and web analytics are technically two different skills, they often go hand-in-hand for customer-facing teams.

CRMs (Customer Relationship Management) systems such as Salesforce, Pipedrive, HubSpot, and other CRMs for startups are enabling companies to keep track of all their clients, create and track their sales, and make sure all of their marketing campaigns are running smoothly.

Many companies today also use web analytics, such as Google Analytics, Mixpanel, and SEMrush to measure how well their websites are performing. Web analytics are also used for a variety of other purposes, including measuring user engagement on social media platforms, measuring website traffic and conversions, and generating sales reports.

Thus, upskilling your marketing team on these platforms is a matter of exposure and in-house training. However, pay attention to how quickly your employees adapt to different CRM and web analytics platforms, and consider further upskilling your star performers in additional skills like:

  • Database Management
  • Lead Management and Analysis
  • User Behaviour Analysis

While these are specialised skills and roles for maintaining these systems, any modern customer-facing team should have some basic experience with CRM and web analytics. The more you can expose your employees to different systems and platforms, the more comfortable they’ll feel with evolving technology in this field.

How can you know which skills are the most important for your business?

While we only covered three hard skills in this article, those skills apply to a wide range of modern business situations. However, you should know how to identify the core skills you need to invest into, and whether it makes sense to prioritise certain skills over others.

Here are some practical tips for identifying the skills your business should focus on developing:

  • Separate your business into its core branches—marketing, finance, IT, administration, and customer relations.
  • Identify your weakest business points with raw data—and if you can't, you're probably lacking in core internal data analysis skills.
  • Ask yourself how quickly your company could adapt to new technology platforms, or move its operations to a cloud-based solution. If the answer is "not very", then you need to upskill your IT employees.
  • Assess your marketing team's digital campaign metrics, and if you’re not seeing a clear return on investment (ROI), then you might want to beef up your marketing team’s digital skills.
  • Survey employees on their job satisfaction and workplace atmosphere. If the results are too negative, look at improving your HR and middle management's soft skills.

At the end of the day, deciding which hard skills to prioritise is a matter of 1) determining the areas your company is most lacking in, and 2) determining which future trends in your industry will shape the need for these skills.

Supercharge your upskilling by turning your top performers into subject-matter experts

We've highlighted the key steps in identifying which hard skills to prioritise in your business when it comes to upskilling. Once a select number of employees have ramped up and are fully trained, it's worth leveraging their new found expertise to share their knowledge with others in the business.

This approach allows you to leverage in-house expertise alongside external training programmes and certifications to help upskill even more people across the organisation.

In addition, you can use a collaborative learning platform that provides a training environment and gathers all of the training in one accessible location. Subject-matter experts can create courses themselves, and trainees can learn and interact with their co-workers in real-time, encouraging knowledge sharing, leadership, and communication. This is a great way to get your employees trained on hard skills which in turn drives business growth.

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