Upskilling/Reskilling: The New Black during COVID-19

Upskilling/Reskilling: The New Black during COVID-19

November 28, 2020 0 By Patricia G. Moreno
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Introduction

The essence of life is change-but who could have predicted the reality and outcomes of a Post COVID-19 world? none of us knew it. Nowadays, we are going through tough times as 2020 is almost done. Then, what skills are needed for future workforces? and, what is the importance of upskilling and reskilling during COVID-19?  These are some questions we should all be asking when thinking about the post-pandemic side effects.

Skills needed for future workforce

Skills for the future workforce are really difficult to predict, given the rapidly changing environment. Kelly Palmer pinpointed during an interview some reskilling and upskilling highlights depicted in her book The Expertise Economy, where she classified skills in two categories:

  • Tech skills: From automation, machine learning, AI, and analytics to basic digital tools that must be taught to employees
  • Power skills: Also known as Soft skills, uniquely human ones like empathy, compassion, emotional intelligence, among others.

Machines are starting to do the jobs humans have always been doing. But there are high-value positions where power skills remain constant and overcome technologies. Palmer spotlighted an interesting observation about what she considers as the most important skill beyond tech and soft skills: learning agility. She stated that agility is the curiosity and motivation to keep learning updated and constant.

You can watch Palmer statements explained in a nutshell here:

Upskilling vs Reskilling, which is the most important?

Upskilling and Reskilling can be seen as part of a talent strategy, then, what do these terms mean? These words might sound similar but they have different meanings and are often confused.

SourcUpskilling/Reskilling: The New Black during COVID-19

Upskilling involves learning or teaching new skills within the same area of expertise. Workers expand their skills and knowledge, as well as advance along their current career paths. In other words, it is enhancing the existing abilities of an employee within the same profession.

By contrast, Reskilling is the process of learning new skills in order to do a different job. Training people within a different area of expertise. It allows businesses to retrain the workers that have a deep understanding of their company operations and subsequently reduces turnovers.

Which of them works better? Both skills build strong inter-company relationships and provide growth opportunities within same company. We are struggling tough times, so companies are required to think and make decisions fast, this makes upskilling and reskilling an imperative practice. To run a successful business during COVID-19, whether any company is looking to upskill or reskill. A willingness to learn new skill turns is a necessity. Upskilling might help some team members to remain indispensable and grow in their current position. On the other hand, Reskilling helps those whose jobs are no longer relevant in finding a new field without leaving the company.   Both initiatives can boost job satisfaction, stay competitive, and bringing out the workforce to its maximum potential.

The company TalentLMS joined forces with hiring experts from Workable and Training Journal teams, in order to underline the current state of reskilling and upskilling training during COVID-19. They surveyed 282 managers, decision-makers, and employees in various US companies to see how beneficial were reskilling and upskilling to business and workforce training.  Employers were asked how beneficial upskilling and reskilling have been to their companies?  As shown in the graph below, they believe that both initiatives have improved productivity by 75%, workers retention by 58%, goals by 69%, and company reputation by 63%.

Upskilling & Reskilling as future Agile workforces strategies:

There are some strategies that will lead trainees and coaches to teach, win and/or rework their skills by developing an Agile learning culture:

  • Identifying the skill gaps in order to pivot and thrive during post-pandemics.
  • Bridging the skills gaps by asking who has these gaps and what are these gaps.
  • Building a learning culture, means organizations need to provide their workforces with tailored tools and technologies, enable them to learn on the go.
  • Link up with in-house and outsourcing learning partners. Identify them and the way you are going to: deliver the remote training and be supported by an in-house or outside coach.
  • Developing a leader’s ability to lead remote teams under multiple challenges and realities.
  • An out-of-the-box thought is needed in this digital time, HR leaders must focus on putting employees first to equip them for the future with technology as an enabler.
  • A cross-functional group must be led by top leadership, which needs to figure out the tech skills required to run the process. HRs must focus on how to equip workers with the tailored tools.

The takeaway

During the pre-pandemic phase, we were still in a traditional business model, where most companies worked in offices, commuted to work, attended in-person meetings, and so on.  Before that, we have found ourselves working remotely and constantly adjusting our systems to the new reality. Adapting and training the teams and coaches are taking-action steps needed to embrace new skills. Companies have to quickly upskill and reskill their teams by developing an Agile learning culture, as well as encouraging workers with a self-training mindset. Fortunately, online learning platforms are cost-effective, easy to access, on-demand, and allow tailored-made programs during these fast-paced times of change.

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