How (and Why) to Successfully Upskill Employees

employee upskilling with an online course



Any kind of “skilling” is a hot topic right now — one that has gained more traction in the past five years thanks to the rapid pace of technology, creating a significant skills gap in many industries. We’ve heard from numerous clients about the topic, so we recently held a webinar on upskilling and why it matters (if you prefer to watch, you can view the replay in full for free!). Here are the main takeaways.


What is upskilling? 

Upskilling refers to acquiring new skills or enhancing existing ones to keep up with the changing demands of the job market or advance in one’s career. Often, when we talk about “upskilling,” we mean the act of employers encouraging employees to learn more skills, but the term also applies to self-upskilling, i.e., lifelong learning and professional development. The umbrella term includes various methods, such as formal education, training programs, workshops, online courses, or on-the-job learning opportunities.

Upskilling has gained significant importance in recent years due to the rapid advancements in technology, automation, and the evolving nature of work. As job roles become more specialized and industries undergo rapid transformations, individuals must continuously adapt and update their skills to remain competitive.


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Why is upskilling employees important? 

  1. It solves skills gaps: Many industries are experiencing a significant skills gap, where the demand for specific skills exceeds the available supply of qualified workers. Upskilling helps bridge this gap by equipping existing employees with the skills to fill critical roles. Some 70% of employers globally struggle to find workers with the right balance of hard and soft skills. 


  1. It incorporates technological advancements: Rapid technological advancements, such as automation, artificial intelligence, and digitalization, reshape industries and job roles. Upskilling is essential to ensure employees have the digital literacy and technical skills to adapt to these changes and remain relevant in the workforce.


  1. It supports changing job market dynamics: The job market is evolving, with traditional job roles being disrupted and new roles emerging. Upskilling enables individuals to pivot their skills and expertise to align with emerging job opportunities, ensuring they remain employable and competitive.


  1. Employees expect it: Today’s workforce values continuous learning and professional development. Employees seek opportunities to grow, learn new skills, and advance their careers. Organizations that invest in upskilling demonstrate their commitment to employee development, attracting and retaining top talent.


  1. It increases retention and engagement: Upskilling initiatives increase employee engagement and job satisfaction. Employees with opportunities to learn and grow within their roles are more likely to feel valued and motivated, leading to increased loyalty and reduced turnover. 


  1. It’s future-proof: Upskilling is crucial for future-proofing both individuals and organizations. By staying ahead of industry trends and acquiring new skills, individuals can adapt to changing job requirements and remain employable. Similarly, organizations that invest in upskilling ensure they have a workforce with the skills to navigate future challenges and drive innovation.


  1. It encourages competition at an international scale: Upskilling is vital for the economic competitiveness of nations. Countries prioritizing upskilling initiatives can develop a highly skilled workforce, attracting investment, fostering innovation, and driving economic growth. 53% of executives anticipate that between half and all of their workforce will need to reskill over the next three years to contribute to their businesses effectively.


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How to Upskill Employees 


  1. Training and Development Programs: Implement structured training programs that focus on developing specific skills or knowledge relevant to employees’ roles or future career aspirations. These programs can include workshops, seminars, online courses, or in-house training sessions. Tailor the content to address skill gaps and provide opportunities for hands-on practice and application. Here at Star Staffing, we are putting employees through a course on using ChatGPT to help with workload and mundane tasks. We know ChatGPT is just the beginning of a new way of work, and we want to ensure our team knows exactly how to use it and its regulations. 


  1. Mentoring and Coaching: Pair employees with experienced mentors or coaches who can provide guidance, support, and personalized feedback. Mentoring relationships allow employees to learn from seasoned professionals, gain insights into industry best practices, and receive individualized advice on skill development and career growth. We created a mentorship program and are excited to launch it.


  1. Job Rotation and Cross-Functional Projects: Encourage employees to take on new responsibilities and gain exposure to different areas of the organization through job rotations or cross-functional projects. This approach broadens their skill set, fosters collaboration, and enhances their understanding of various business functions. 


  1. Internal Knowledge Sharing and Communities of Practice: Establish platforms or forums where employees can share their expertise, insights, and best practices with colleagues. This can be done through regular knowledge-sharing sessions, lunch-and-learn events, or online communities of practice. Encouraging a culture of continuous learning and collaboration within the organization facilitates upskilling through peer-to-peer knowledge exchange.


  1. External Learning Opportunities: Support employees in pursuing external learning opportunities, such as attending conferences, industry events, or professional development courses. Provide financial assistance or time off to encourage employees to engage in external training programs that align with their development goals. This exposure to external perspectives and expertise can broaden their skill set and keep them updated on industry trends.


It’s important to note that these approaches can be combined and customized based on your organization’s and employees’ specific needs and goals. Regularly assess the effectiveness of upskilling initiatives and gather employee feedback to ensure continuous improvement and alignment with their evolving needs.