Why Upskilling From Within Is The Most Cost-Effective Solution To Closing Skill Gaps

Why Upskilling From Within Is The Most Cost-Effective Solution To Closing Skill Gaps
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Summary: In this article, we discuss why internal upskilling is essential to eliminating skills gaps and how it can boost corporate growth, increase employee retention, and improve collaboration amongst teams.

How To Find New Ways To Nurture Talent

Filling skill gaps by hiring externally just doesn't make financial sense anymore. It's simply too costly and time-consuming. Instead, organizations are finding new ways to nurture their existing talent by empowering employees to continuously develop their skills and knowledge.

Supporting your employees' continuous development is just as beneficial for the organization as it is for individuals. As the World Economic Forum states, 40% of employees will require reskilling in the near future. [1] And, according to a Gartner report, we're seeing a 10% annual increase in the skills necessary to perform a single job. [2]

Organizations that fail to effectively address skills gaps will undoubtedly harm their profits, productivity, and ability to take advantage of emerging opportunities. The only viable solution is upskilling from within. Instead of looking outwards, we need to look inwards and focus on building the skills of our existing talent pool to remain competitive now and in the future.

Read on to learn why internal upskilling is essential to eliminating skills gaps and how it can boost corporate growth, increase employee retention, and improve collaboration amongst teams.

First up? Let's take a look at what upskilling is and why it's important.

What Is Upskilling?

Upskilling refers to helping employees acquire new and different skills to fulfill current and future employment requirements. It helps people perform better, stay relevant, and prepare for new tasks and responsibilities.

People can upskill through workshops, mentorship, training, online courses, and more. These new skills can cover everything from coding and data analysis to leadership and communication. For VPs of talent management, the key is identifying the skills most crucial to the organization's success and providing employees with the training and resources to acquire them.

Any company's workforce development strategy must include upskilling. Companies can improve performance, retain top talent, and stay competitive by investing in employee growth and development.

So, why is upskilling important for business growth?

Why Is Upskilling Important For Business Growth?

Upskilling can significantly impact your bottom line, both directly and indirectly. It'll help you reduce skill gaps, boost productivity, and support career growth, thus helping your company stay competitive.

The modern business landscape is changing rapidly. As such, the skills that were once in demand may now be irrelevant. Instead of continually looking for employees who fit current needs, upskilling allows you to develop your workforce to anticipate future needs. In doing so, you'll enhance their productivity, morale, engagement, and loyalty.

In addition, when people acquire new skills, it helps them to work faster and better, which boosts company productivity. Upskilling can help employees take on new roles and responsibilities, boosting job satisfaction and motivation.

Another benefit of upskilling is to support employee growth in line with organizational growth. That's because employees who see a clear growth and development path are more likely to stay with the company.

While organizations that prioritize upskilling will have the upper hand, it's important to note that many organizations still embrace the traditional, top-down training method of upskilling employees that has been favored for decades. Read on to find out why this needs to change.

Why Top-Down Training Doesn't Close Skill Gaps

Top-down training, where leadership chooses and enforces training topics, has been common in many organizations for decades. But today, this traditional approach to employee development simply cannot close skill gaps quickly enough.

To stay competitive, organizations must upskill their workforce faster than ever. Unfortunately, traditional training programs may take too long to create and implement, leaving skill gaps unaddressed. In addition, leadership-driven training programs are often generic and don't meet employees' needs. Without employee input, these programs can disengage and demotivate.

Instead, organizations need to engage experts and learners to collaborate with each other to learn and adapt. With this approach in mind, learners shape the training agenda, resulting in higher engagement and fast, continuous upskilling for the jobs of today and tomorrow.

Read on to learn more about the benefits of collaborative learning to upskill from within.

4 Benefits Of Upskilling From Within Through Collaborative Learning

Companies can close skills gaps and grow by upskilling employees through collaborative learning. Here are 4 benefits of this bottom-up learning approach.

1. Improved Engagement And Retention

When employees have a say in their learning and development, they're more engaged. Employee retention increases with collaborative and employee-driven upskilling. The research found that engaged employees have 21% higher profitability and 17% higher productivity than disengaged employees. [3]

2. Increased Agility And Adaptability

In a rapidly changing business environment, organizations must be agile and adaptable. Organizations can quickly adapt to market, technology, and industry trends with collaborative and employee-driven upskilling. Employees can quickly upskill to meet new demands and identify the skills they need to succeed.

3. Better Alignment With Business Objectives

Every employee's learning needs will, one way or another, be relevant to their current job and the company's future goals. As such, with employee-driven upskilling, you'll have a better alignment between training and business objectives. As a result, you'll facilitate your company's growth by aligning upskilling initiatives with business objectives.

4. Improved Collaboration And Knowledge Sharing

Collaborative and employee-driven upskilling promotes knowledge sharing and collaboration. In-house experts and peers can teach each other and foster a sense of camaraderie while doing so. In turn, a continuous Learning and Development culture results in a more skilled and knowledgeable workforce.

2 Upskilling Success Stories To Help You Get Started

Now that you've seen the benefits of upskilling and the drawbacks of traditional training methods, let's look at some real-world examples of companies that have successfully upskilled their employees from within.

1. AlphaSights

AlphaSights, a global knowledge on-demand company, doubled in size and scaled its training by creating in-house courses. The company encouraged their internal Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to create training using an authoring tool and collaborating with peers to become co-authors.

AlphaSights employed a bold upskilling strategy and turned to the experts who knew their training needs best—their employees—and brought them into the course creation process with the help of 360Learning. With an easy-to-use authoring tool, SMEs from different departments, like engineering or commercial, turned their knowledge into eLearning courses. The training content instantly became more role-specific, relevant, and engaging.

Ultimately, the company mobilized more than 300 employees—27% of their workforce—to become course authors and share their knowledge.

2. ConnectWise

ConnectWise, an IT solutions provider, empowered their help desk technicians and new hires to learn in the flow of work and get up to speed on industry developments. ConnectWise created training programs that required less time away from vital tasks and filled crucial skills gaps.

The biggest challenge for ConnectWise was creating training that was better adapted to their industry. The company used the 360Learning platform to reduce onboarding time for new employees by helping them learn in the flow of work.

A first step for ConnectWise was to gather all their training materials in a centralized platform so that learners could find the learning they needed without wasting time. With new technology, the L&D team spent a lot less time on administrative tasks and was able to build, update, and deliver training in the moment of need. As a result, they brought down course creation and delivery time from one to two months to just one to two weeks.

With inspiration from two leading organizations gathered, how can you get started with your own upskilling program? Follow these 5 steps to success.

5 Steps To Running A Successful Upskilling Program

After recognizing the importance of upskilling and its potential benefits to your organization, the next step is implementing an effective program. This 5-step framework can help your upskilling program succeed.

1. Identify Skills Gaps

Identifying your employees' skills and competencies is crucial before upskilling them. This requires thoroughly analyzing your company's current and future needs and understanding your employees' skills and knowledge.

2. Develop Educational Pathways

Once you've identified their skills and competencies, you can create learning pathways for your employees. Over time, learning pathways build specific skills and knowledge.

3. Leverage In-House Experts

Leveraging in-house experts is one of the best ways to upskill your workforce. These employees can share their expertise in specific fields, making the content more relevant and credible. Your in-house experts or Subject Matter Experts will be high in demand, so be sure to put a process in place; for example, using your Learning Management System (LMS) to make it as easy as possible for experts to share their knowledge.

4. Encourage Continuous Learning

Scheduled training sessions are great for getting learners to get together but they don't allow you to train in the flow of work, or, in other words, when employees are facing problems and challenges that need to be solved at a specific moment in time. That's why it's so important to give learners the ability to declare their learning needs in real time and encourage experts to help fulfill those needs quickly and effectively by sharing their expertise through online courses.

5. Evaluate Your Upskilling Program To Improve Over Time

To make sure your upskilling program is working, measure its results. This can include tracking employee performance metrics, conducting surveys to gather feedback, and analyzing your upskilling program's ROI.

By following these steps, you can create an effective upskilling program that helps your organization close skills gaps, boost productivity, and grow.

Upskill The Right Way

Whether it's employee, customer, or partner growth, upskilling from within gives you a sure shot at success. Crowdsource your upskilling needs from in-house Subject Matter Experts who can create courses, coach learners, and contribute to academies. This way, you save time, reduce cost, and keep your training relevant. See a preview of 360Learning to learn how to future-proof your workforce by upskilling from within.


[1] The Future of Jobs Report 2020

[2] Gartner HR Research Finds 58% of the Workforce Will Need New Skill Sets to Do Their Jobs Successfully

[3] 10 Timely Statistics About The Connection Between Employee Engagement And Wellness

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eBook Release: 360Learning
360Learning is the learning platform powered by collaborative learning. We foster internal mobility to solve the talent shortage by empowering companies to upskill from within.