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Upskilling: A cost-effective solution to the ongoing talent shortage

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Nearly 46% of employees fear their current skillset will become irrelevant by 2040. The skill gap is worsening, and organizations struggle to find cost-effective solutions.  

A recent survey found that 46% of organizations also struggle to fill open positions, and 53% of them anticipate this number to increase in the coming months. Experts posit that organizations can solve this talent shortage through upskilling.  

So, what is upskilling? Simply put, upskilling advances the current skillset with additional learning and development. Organizations can offer upskilling programs in collaboration with their HR departments or hire an external company to train their workforce.  

Why is upskilling the solution to the ongoing talent shortage?  

The transformation of the economy into embracing digitization has definitely catapulted upskilling into being a major priority for organizations looking to future-proof their businesses.  

 Organizations that refrain from doing so may risk falling behind. It is estimated that over 50% of employees will need to upskill by 2025. Most working professionals now recognise the importance of having in-demand skills. They will look to their organizations to provide them with the necessary training to keep up with the labour market. 

For this reason, upskilling programs are increasingly making their way into organizations’ internal mobility strategies. By focusing more on their internal labour market, companies can position high-performing employees into functions where their skills could be leveraged, resulting in increased efficiency and productivity and subsequently deriving business growth.  

Career development has also become an important part of an organization’s appeal. Employees want to learn skills that will help them not only in their current jobs but also in their future careers. Therefore, offering opportunities for career development and growth is an important way to retain employees.  

Employees want to progress and advance in their careers, and if a company cannot offer these opportunities, it will impact workforce retention. The best companies to work for are the ones that support their employees’ long-term career goals and ambitions. This includes providing time for skills development and offering better learning benefits and programs. 

With frequent fluctuations in the economy and changing work structures, organizations who invest in upskilling their employees can remain competitive while saving costs on recruitment and outsourcing.  

By training their current employees for future roles that will best support organizational growth, businesses of all sizes can utilize the skills of their workforce to adapt to changing needs and maintain a competitive edge.  

The benefits of upskilling your workforce 
Increasing Talent Retention  

Investing in upskilling can do wonders for an organization’s talent retention and engagement. 83% of employees have named improving their skills in the latest Amazon and Workplace Intelligence survey.  

The same survey also found that 74% would be willing to leave if their current company did not offer any learning and development resources. Attracting top talent starts in-house. If your current employees feel like they are not progressing, they’re more likely to leave. Providing additional training and demonstrating a culture of learnability can help retain current employees and attract new ones. 

Employers in the UAE were found to be 43% less likely to retain skilled workers due to a lack of development and skill advancement resources. The importance of being able to sustain a workforce was evident to half of the employees surveyed when asked about what would lure future talent. Being able to upskill, reward success, and pay attention to employee engagement were all essential. 

Strengthening Company Culture and Employee Engagement  

Upskilling your employees also increases their motivation and satisfaction, leading them to become better contributors to the company. On the other hand, employees who feel as though they lack certain skills are more likely to become disengaged with their work. 

Employees who have received training can use new technologies more efficiently to complete their work faster and with greater accuracy. They are also better prepared to assume higher positions. 

If a company promotes learning and development, it can create a more supportive culture for employees where they feel constantly encouraged to grow and find new ways to develop. In turn, this allows colleagues to learn from each other more easily. 

The main benefit of upskilling employees for the company is that it creates a more forward-thinking and motivating environment for all employees. When an employer takes the time to train and help develop their employees’ skills, it shows the workforce that they are appreciated and valued. This, in turn, stimulates productivity and motivation within the organization. 


How can organizations strategically upskill their employees?  


Assessing employee needs and ambitions on an individual level  

The most important aspect to consider when developing an organizational learning and development strategy is to consider the individual needs of your employees. Every employee joins an organization with different goals and a unique set of skills, therefore L&D programs must be designed in a way that support every employee’s growth.  

Organizations should focus on learning what their employees want and need. Taking the time to understand their interests and goals will aid in implementing programs that will help them grow professionally. 

Identify critical skills for the future & collaboration between leaders and HR departments 

Business leaders must discuss strategies for employee retention and succession plans with their talent development and HR teams. They should identify the skills that are most critical for success in the future of work and assess which roles currently have these capabilities. 

After that, they must evaluate their current curriculum in terms of flexibility. Are there opportunities for growth built into the curriculum? What other tools might be necessary? Are they easily available to the employees? 

To adequately address the talent shortage, HR departments must collaborate with business leaders to devise short-term and long-term solutions. The long-term strategy must incorporate plans for personal development, programs for job-specific upskilling, and other efforts to retain talent. 

Account for digitisation and hybrid working structures  

The onset of digitisation in the workforce can also be leveraged in developing upskilling strategies. It provides tools, such as artificial intelligence, psychometric assessment, and predictive performance, which can help with the training process. 

With e-learning becoming the preferred source of learning as more companies adopt a hybrid work structure, adopting a micro-learning approach can offer a more flexible way of learning certain skills by breaking down coursework into smaller pieces. This makes it easier to learn and retain the information, and ultimately achieve the desired goal. 

How can business leaders support upskilling? 

Education and skill development should be implemented at every stage of someone’s career, from entry-level to senior leadership positions. This will ensure that everyone has access to development opportunities, regardless of their role or experience. 

Employees need to be engaged in their learning process, so leaders should provide opportunities and time for employees to learn. Leaders can set an example by doing the same. Encourage teams to set aside time each week for learning, and can even offer development days where employees can focus on training courses. 

With regards to the type of skills to focus on, organisations are realising that a mixture of hard and soft skills is needed for the best results. Hard skills are the technical, specific skills required to do a job. Soft skills are interpersonal or people skills, such as communication and leadership. 

Most leaders often lack the soft skills required to succeed in their field, as these skills are often underestimated in value. But they are an essential part organizational success and must be treated with the same importance as hard skills.  

To sum up, 

Companies need to keep up with technological changes and find talented employees with the right skills to stay ahead of their competition. Even during difficult times, it is important for companies to remain agile and innovative. Those who embrace disruptions as an opportunity will have a strategic advantage in the long run. 

As organizations look to future-proof their businesses through upskilling, collaboration between HR departments and business leaders remains essential. The way learning is delivered must evolve to meet the needs of a changing world. An effective way to do this is through cohort-based learning, which allows employees to take charge of their approach to learning and fit it into their schedules as they are able. 

Organizations may also be tempted to stop learning new things or offering new opportunities for learning as employees get older and more experienced. However, in today’s rapidly changing world, even those at the highest levels need to stay up-to-date. Lifelong learning should be a priority for everyone, no matter what stage of their career they are in. 

Blogs that might be of further interest:

How can job hopping affect your career? 

How to overcome the demand for skilled talent?

Learn more about our Training Academy service pillar 

Reach out to us at contact@linked4hr.com  

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