Skilling, reskilling and upskilling

It can sometimes seem like the world is changing more rapidly than ever before. It seems that every week brings with it a new technology, app, trend or method of working that renders what came before it obsolete. Your company should be prepared for these changes.

Traditionally, businesses would spot changes coming in their industry and recruit new staff to tackle them if different skills were needed to those the company already had access to. However, this is no longer possible in many sectors. Progress is happening so quickly that this approach would mean rehiring too frequently to be viable.

So what can businesses do to stay afloat in this era of rapid change? One possible approach is to focus on skilling, upskilling and reskilling, treating your workforce as flexible rather than only seeing each employee in a set role. This allows you to transform your workforce without having to hire anybody new, allowing you to better meet the challenges of modern-day business.

Skilling

Across the world, industries are being faced with skills gaps. It’s estimated that France will require 80,000 more IT and electronics workers than will be available by 2020, while the US will have to deal with having 250,000 fewer data scientists than it needs. In the UK, 23 percent of people lack basic digital skills despite the fact that they are required for around 90 percent of all new jobs.

So what’s the answer? One possibility is taking existing members of your organisation and training them up. This prevents you from needing to search for specialists, and has the added bonus of providing your employees with an incentive to stay at your firm for the benefit of their development.

This requires you to change your approach when it comes to hiring. Businesses should be focused on taking on employees who have the potential to be skilled, looking at qualities like enthusiasm and the capacity to learn. Given that top talent is likely to become more and more scarce as time goes on, this might well be the only practical solution.

Reskilling

As technology and the digital landscape change, some jobs are going to become less relevant while others are going to suddenly become crucial. Just look at the rapid rise of cryptocurrency and jobs related to it, which are already becoming obsolete. Companies are going to struggle to hire people to work on technologies that have only just come into prominence.

One way around this is to implement a reskilling policy. If you have talented employees working for you, but their area of expertise is becoming less relevant, you don’t want to simply wait for them to become obsolete and then have to hire someone new. Instead, it is much better to retrain them so you can put their talent to use elsewhere.

Keeping with the above example, cryptocurrency seems to be on the wane. However, blockchain - a technology closely related to cryptocurrency - is the new kid on the block. Employees working on the former could easily be reskilled to work on the latter, which will only strengthen your company’s talent base.

Upskilling

Another thing companies need to be prepared for is upskilling. Unlike reskilling, this involves training people up but keeping them in the same roles, rather than fundamentally changing their jobs.

This is a necessity for a number of reasons, but especially because you will need a talented management team to deal with the need for skilling and reskilling. You want to identify the employees with the most potential and offer them all the training they need to develop into a leader.