As most HR and learning/development leaders can attest, finding qualified talent to fill open roles is a struggle. According to a Deloitte study, industry experts saw a skills gap trending in the U.S. economy about 10 years ago. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated this gap because 4.3 million Americans left their jobs during the “Great Resignation.”
Organizational leaders have looked for ways to bridge the talent shortage so they cancould fill critical roles, and many have decided upskilling employees is the best solution.
Global giants such as Verizon, Google, McDonald’s, Marriott International, Google, and Walmart have invested billions in upskilling programs that help employees improve existing skills, earn a high school diploma or college degree, and learn new skills that will enable them to assume additional job responsibilities, qualify for higher-level jobs, and move into management.
The growth of upskilling as a viable enterprise staffing and training solution has surprised industry experts because implementing internal and external training programs have has long been considered the best solution strategy for employee development.
Many people think training is the same as upskilling employees. However, they have different objectives and focus on differentother outcomes.
What is Training?
Training is defined as any activity that helps an individual or group of employees acquire new knowledge or improve existing skills. For instance, a sales manager might decide a new sales representative with good potential would benefit by attending a course or workshop on closing techniques. The same manager might schedule training for a group of sales representatives who will be selling products for a newly-acquired company. Training can also be scheduled by department or company-wide to teach employees how to use new software or brief them on a new process or procedure.
What is Upskilling?
Upskilling employees means teaching employeesthem new skills that will help them improve their performance in their current job or prepare them to move to a similar role. For example, a warehouse manager who uses Microsoft Excel might need to learn a new process to integrate spreadsheets with pricing information into a new enterprise management software platform.
Training and Upskilling Your Employees. Which is Better?
There is no black-and-white answer regarding training vs. upskilling employees because it depends on what you want to accomplish. Training can be practical given the right circumstances, but there are disadvantages to consider. These are common complaints managers have about training.
- The Cost: One of business leaders’ biggest objections about employee training is the expense. If an organization manages training internally, it incurs the expense of staffing a department and paying employees to create training materials and facilitate workshops. If it uses contract trainers, they need to be paid for their time. And if they send employees to a seminar or conference off-site, they have to pay for the course and travel expenses.
- Department Disruption: While most business leaders agree that training is important, they place a bigger priority on completing projects on time and within budget. Having one or more team members in training for a day or two is disruptive and burdens other staff. This is why training is often at the bottom of the priority list.
- Lack of Control: Each industry has standard procedures and best practices, but each company has specific ways of doing things. If training is delegated to someone outside a department—whether internal or external—, a manager cannot be sure team members will beare being taught the correct information. Employees will wonder which version is valid if a trainer gives instructions that contradict what a manager has instructed. Team members could even pick up bad habits that cause problems with colleagues or customers.
- Lack of Effectiveness: A big complaint many business leaders have aboutwith training is that while employees quickly forget what they learned. They are excited and motivated during the training, they quickly forget what they learned when they return to work but quickly forget what they learned when they return to the office. Since they do not see any return on the investment, many managers see training as a waste of time and money.
Why Upskilling Employees is Gaining in Popularity
Business leaders are more receptive to upskilling employees because it delivers immediate results. Upskilling helps employees do their current job more efficiently. Therefore, it directly impacts the bottom line and directly contributes to helping the business meet its growth goals.
Upskilling is also popular with employees because they are allowed to improve their current abilities and learn new skills. According to a recent LinkedIn survey, 94% of employees surveyed said they would stay with an organization longer if offered the chance to improve their abilities and learn new skills.
These are some reasons businesses are implementing programs to upskill their employees.
- Increase Productivity: Upskilling employees improves productivity and enables employees to enhance their job performance. According to a Capgemini Research study, upskilled employees are able to shift their focus on tasks that directly contribute to business growth.
- Retain Good Employees: Many positions that are entry-, low- and mid-skill level have become obsolete or have been disrupted by technology. Upskilling employees in these roles enables organizations to retain them by helping them acquire new skills. They can then move into a similar position or train for a different job. The eSkill Talent Assessment PlatformTM is an industry-leading solution that helps HR and learning/development leaders determine what employees know so they can develop customized training programs for each employee.
- Build an Internal Talent Pool: In 2021, 4.3 million Americans left their jobs during the Great Resignation. As a result, companies have struggled to find qualified employees to fill critical positions. Through that experience, they’ve learned the value of developing current employees toso they could build an internal talent pool. Preparing current employees to take on new responsibilities and move into new jobs is less costly and much less risky than hiring and training a new candidate who may or may not work out. Many organizations that use the eSkill Talent Assessment PlatformTM have reduced hiring and training costs by as much as 70% and decreased time-to-hire/promote by 60%.
Interested in Leveraging Skills Tests to Upskill Your Employees?
If you use a training and employee development strategy your organization has depended on for decades, it is probably obsolete and will be ineffective forin helping you navigating today’s dynamic hiring and training environment.
You can quickly implement a program to upskill your employees using the eSkill Talent Assessment PlatformTM. Contact us and request a demo to learn more.
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