7 Prime Examples That Highlight The Reskilling And Upskilling Difference In Lifelong Learning Programs

7 Prime Examples That Highlight The Reskilling And Upskilling Difference In Lifelong Learning Programs
Summary: What are the key distinctions between upskilling and reskilling in corporate eLearning? Let's explore 7 examples of these skill development approaches in action.

Practical Perspectives: Pointing Out Key Reskilling And Upskilling Differences

Though the terms are close cousins, there are significant differences between upskilling and reskilling in the corporate world. It's crucial to set them apart when creating online training resources because they have distinct aims. While one pertains to learning new skills and competencies, the other usually involves a shift in career trajectories. For example, an employee may need to reskill if they switch departments or take on new job duties. Let's delve deeper into these distinctions by looking at prime examples that highlight reskilling and upskilling differences in lifelong learning programs for your workforce.

eBook Release: Upskilling And Reskilling Essentials: How To Address The Emerging Challenges Of The Future Of Work
eBook Release
Upskilling And Reskilling Essentials: How To Address The Emerging Challenges Of The Future Of Work
Discover how to cultivate core competencies and build crucial skills to overcome remote work obstacles!

Examples Of Upskilling And Reskilling In L&D Action

There are a variety of reasons why you may need to deploy upskilling and reskilling training initiatives for your business. The following 7 use cases are a good sampling that involve different industries, sectors, and extenuating L&D circumstances.

1. An Employee Is Promoted From Within

One of your top performers lands a big promotion and they need to prep for new obstacles that might come their way. This is an example of upskilling, since the employee already possesses the foundational talents they need to take on the new job responsibilities. In fact, that's probably why they were chosen to move up the corporate ladder in the first place. The exception to this rule is staffers who have the basic building blocks, such as core competencies, but still require reskilling to keep up with industry changes or remote work roadblocks. For instance, you've transitioned to telecommuting and a newly appointed team leader must learn new processes or protocols.

2. Staffers Must Master New Tasks

You've rolled out new tasks that call for a new set of skills. In most cases, a reskilling program fits the bill, especially when new tasks have some overlap with the old. As an example, similar core competencies are required, but employees are unfamiliar with follow-up procedures or additional steps. If they need to learn how to use new tools of the trade, then a bit of upskilling should be on your L&D to-do list, as well.

3. Compliance Policies Change

Fresh compliance regulations or company policies are other areas that highlight the reskilling and upskilling difference. Staffers must also brush up on related skills to avoid breaches, more often than not. Reskilling is usually the best strategy if these new rules involve significant change, as they must retrain themselves and break old habits to continually improve performance behaviors. On the other hand, an upskilling course is ideal for expanding their skillset if competences or responsibilities are required that fall outside their current professional purview.

4. A Workers Talents Are Better Suited Elsewhere

Employees' areas of expertise may not align with their current job duties or responsibilities. In which case, a reskilling program helps to shift their professional focus and pursue another related career path. These workers are still valuable members of your organization but their experience and insights can benefit other aspects of your company. Let's say that a sales employee is adept at negotiation and persuasion. However, they have a knack for handling customer complaints and know the company policies inside-out. Thus, they might be a natural fit for your customer service team, where they are primed for a leadership role. Keep in mind that personality traits also signal it's time for a change. For example, introverts may be able to seal the deal, but they're more comfortable in behind-the-scenes positions.

5. Automation Enters The Scene

Another key difference between reskilling and upskilling is that the latter often deals with infrastructural or procedural changes. For example, advances in technology force you to rethink your current approach and adopt new software or tools to streamline work tasks. In other words, automation makes much of the manual work obsolete and employees must learn how to adjust their skillsets and competencies. This may require a steep learning curve, such as figuring out how to use the new tech platforms to operate machinery or carry out regular maintenance to stay in compliance.

6. Downsizing Widens The Talent Gap

Downsizing your organization is never a small feat. You may have to sacrifice valued members of the team, which means that others have to fill in the vacancies left behind. This is, once again, an occasion that calls for both reskilling and upskilling, based on the situation. For instance, some employees may have to learn new skills or cross-train in other departments. Likewise, staffers with strong leadership capabilities need to incubate new skills that scaffold their current talents.

7. New Recruits Are Missing Crucial Skills

You've just onboarded an amazing new recruit who has all the right skills and real-world experience; the catch is that they lack certain talents that would make them an even more valued member of the team. To illustrate, the staffer already has strong communication and interpersonal skills. They know the ins and outs of product knowledge and company policy. What they're missing are negotiation skills to overcome customer reluctance and boost per-ticket sales. Thus, you need to broaden their existing skillset with effective upskilling support tools so that they're able to hit their quarterly targets with ease.

Which Approach Is Best For Your Business Strategy?

Every organization should consider a hybrid L&D approach based on employees' expectations, needs, and gaps. Another factor is organizational growth. For example, you plan to venture into new markets and your employees require specialized skills to meet growing demands. However, the key is knowing the reskilling and upskilling difference so that you provide targeted support and relevant online training assets. Certain employees may need reskilling resources to realign talents with new company policies, as well as upskilling JIT tools to prepare for new responsibilities and roles.


HR often focuses primarily on improving (AKA upskilling) in order to maximize internal talent and reduce turnover. But reskilling is just as crucial for long-term business success, as it gives you the opportunity to fill vacant positions internally and adapt to industry changes. In short, an upskilling and reskilling training program allows your organization to continually evolve and rise to emerging challenges. Adobe Captivate Prime LMS is a versatile tool in your skill-building arsenal. Gamification, certifications, and robust tracking are just a few of the features that can help you foster lifelong learning across the board.

Download the eBook Upskilling And Reskilling Essentials: How To Address The Emerging Challenges Of The Future Of Work to learn how to foster internal talent, regardless of your budget or staff size.