Why is upskilling and reskilling important?

Why is upskilling and reskilling important?

20 Oct 2022

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Skillsets required in the workforce are rapidly changing. It is becoming increasingly necessary to be consistently learning new and additional information in order to keep up to date with the fast-paced economy and job market. Developments across industries as well as advances in technology have meant that changes in the way we work are crucial to maintain high standards within the workplace. This CPD article will look at why upskilling and reskilling is so important, the benefits it provides for both employees or businesses, and also what is meant by cross-skilling.

What is upskilling?

Upskilling refers to enhancing the skillset of an employee in their current job, this is to prevent gaps in their knowledge and to ensure employees come up with current new ways of thinking. Upskilling tends to be aimed at professionals who seek to improve already established skills, encouraging them to become conscious and proactive with their learning. As part of an organisation's overall strategy, upskilling often refers to the educational, professional development and training opportunities offered to employees.

Why upskilling and reskilling is important to employees?

As our world changes and develops, the way in which we work and learn needs to move forward alongside it. By consistently refreshing our knowledge we remain prepared and proactive, and new thoughts and ideas can open up doors in the workplace for both employers and employees.

Keeping up to date with the pace of technological advancement is a challenge for companies of all shapes and sizes. The nature of our jobs and everyday tasks is changing. To be future-ready, organisations must be proactive rather than reactive. A company’s ability to upskill, or its capacity for training and developing its employees to expand their skillsets, creates a significant and important competitive advantage in an increasingly technology-driven world.

Offering a wide range of training options is now a vital component of building an attractive and dynamic brand. By upskilling and reskilling existing employees, organisations invest in the long-term retention of staff and empower themselves to prepare for fast-changing skills demands. Regular skill audits can highlight gaps and inform training priorities. Collaborative feedback systems, where employees voice their training aspirations, can also ensure alignment with organisational objectives.

Upskilling is not only key to maintaining and growing productivity, but is also essential for keeping employees engaged and interested. By promoting continued learning and development as part of its company culture, a business can boost employee job satisfaction, remain competitive and bring out the full potential of their existing workforce.

What are the benefits of upskilling?

Employers should always take a proactive approach to offering their workers lifelong learning opportunities so that they can adopt new skills and knowledge through Continuing Professional Development (CPD). Upskilling encourages individuals to become conscious with their learning and furthering their own career. Below are some of the key benefits of upskilling on a continuous basis, highlighting how these can fundamentally transform the workplace.

  • Progression within existing job role – Individuals are able to have a higher level skillset to show to employers. Tasks at work should run more efficiently with an increased confidence in what is needed to be done. Skilled employees execute tasks efficiently, driving productivity and tangible results.
  • Gaining control over workload - If an employee has upskilled on faster, simpler ways to complete a task at work, they will less likely need to work overtime; resulting in reduced stress and more time away from work pursuing other interests.
  • Highly competitive work environment - Seeing colleague’s upskill and improve workplace capabilities will encourage individuals to improve their own work ethic. This should motivate employees to put maximum effort into the tasks given.
  • Stay up to date with technological changes - Organisation’s will be able to take advantage of various technological changes, for example using media to market through online resources and therefore reach a wider audience.
  • Retain staff and boost motivation - Investment in skill development signals an organisation's commitment to its staff, reducing attrition. Upskilling shows employers care about their staff's careers and their futures. A boost in employee morale can quickly spread through the team and organisation, leading everyone to feel more connected in the workplace.
Advantages and benefits of upskilling

What does reskilling mean?

Simply put, reskilling means to gain additional skills for a new job role or to develop skills that you do not already have. The goal with reskilling is to equip employees with the necessary abilities to adapt to new functions and in this way become more versatile. Embracing a culture of continuous learning brings forth a range of advantages, not just for the individual but for organisations, and many advantages of reskilling crossover as you might expect. These can include:

Greater job opportunities

Obtaining new professional skills in an area that you haven’t looked at previously could provide new job opportunities that you haven’t considered and make you more competitive in the job market. 

Gaining more knowledge and confidence

More knowledge can open doors to future workplace promotions, and provide more confidence in technical aspects of the role, adaptability and problem solving.

Changing roles within a company

It is far easier to change career paths or job roles as an individual if you have a wide range of different skills across various subject areas.

Keep up to date with industry regulations

As the workforce continues to evolve with technology advancements and time, newer compliances are likely to be introduced across a number of areas. Reskilling can help employees navigate these areas better and usher fresh perspectives, making organisations agile in the face of industry disruptions.

Main differences between upskilling and reskilling

To navigate this world of skill enhancement, it's crucial to understand the distinct meanings and implications of these terms. When discussing the subject of skills enhancement, upskilling and reskilling are often used interchangeably. However, there are a few fundamental differences that you should be aware of.

In general, reskilling refers to gaining skills for a new job, whereas individuals who upskill want to add to their already established skill set within their current job role. Both require learning new information, but the reasons why people will choose to do each vary. Fast developing technological changes would be a common reason for an individual to upskill. Reskilling, on the other hand, has shown to be an effective way to refamiliarize professionals with their job duties, helping to ensure everyone has a wide base of knowledge and a stable workplace in unpredictable times.

Professional upskilling with colleague

What does cross skilling mean?

Cross-Skilling also known as cross-training, is a type of learning that provides flexibility across teams. It looks at developing new skills across multiple subject areas, roles, or job functions which may not be related to an individual’s current work. This may include helping another person with their work, thus increasing an employees’ ability to understand their colleague’s job role, and is useful in gaining an overall better understanding of how the organisation works.

How Covid contributed to the increase in upskilling and reskilling?

Lockdowns and restrictions due to the Coronavirus outbreak beginning in March 2020 meant that upskilling and reskilling became a necessity in many organisations when both employers and employees realised the significance of ongoing training. Upskilling was useful for developing knowledge around the most effective ways to work from home; for instance learning how to use zoom for meetings or run online webinars.

Employers needed to upskill on how to train and work remotely. Some employees were able to cross-train across multiple areas of work that they might not have previously been familiar with, and cover for colleague absences, due to the fact that they had upskilled in their job.

Examples of upskilling and reskilling

Upskilling can encompass a wide range of activities to enhance professional skills and knowledge, often focused towards deepening individual proficiency within a specific area. This can include aspects of business, such as learning about automated processes and advanced workforce strategies. Continuing Professional Development is increasingly vital as part of workplace and skill development training. Examples of CPD learning activities used for upskilling and reskilling are:

  • Training Courses.
  • Peer learning/ mentoring.
  • Webinars (Learn more)
  • Online & eLearning programmes.
  • CPD certified workshops, seminars and events. (Learn more)
  • Self-reflection; addressing weaknesses or skill gaps to target and improve.
  • Regular challenges and workplace goal setting.

Consider a nurse in a hospital setting. As medical technology advances, this nurse may decide to upskill by learning how to operate a newly introduced piece of medical equipment, thereby enhancing her competency within her existing role. Or take a software developer who starts to learn a more advanced programming language or the nuances of cybersecurity to meet the evolving demands of the tech industry. These instances underscore the focus of upskilling: improving one’s current skills to excel in the same profession.

Reskilling is the pivot, the act of adopting a new skill set often in response to external changes in the industry or job market. Imagine a journalist who, after years of working in print media, sees the rise of digital platforms and the decline of traditional newspapers. They might decide to reskill, diving deep into digital content creation, SEO, or video journalism. Another classic case is that of coal miners in areas where the coal industry is declining. Instead of being left jobless, some miners have undergone reskilling programmes to transition into roles such as solar panel technicians. 

Where to find CPD training for upskilling and reskilling?

If you would like to upskill and reskill you may find it useful to visit the CPD Courses Catalogue. Here you will find thousands of courses and events suitable for any Continuing Professional Development requirements. All the certified training has been reviewed and recognised as meeting the required industry standards and benchmarks. To find out more about a particular CPD course listed on our website, you can complete an enquiry form and the details will be sent directly to the relevant CPD provider.

How to become a CPD accredited training provider

We hope this article was helpful. Established in 1996, The CPD Certification Service is the world’s leading and largest CPD accreditation organisation working across all industry sectors. If you provide training courses, workshops, eLearning and virtual events that may be suitable for Continuing Professional Development, please contact our team to discuss in more detail.

Alternatively if you are looking for a free online CPD record tool to help manage, track and log your ongoing learning, as well as store your personal training records and attendance certificates in one simple place go to the myCPD Portal page.

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