Upskilling and reskilling apply to talent development, in which employees learn new skills that help them expand their knowledge in their career path.

Employers and HR teams often utilize upskilling and reskilling when assessing employee skill gaps, forecasting talent supply and demand, and ensuring the organization has the right team of qualified individuals.

Upskilling vs. reskilling

While both terms focus on talent learning new skills, upskilling advances individuals on a linear path and reskilling indicates lateral movement.

Upskilling is when employees expand their existing skill set to enhance their performance and capabilities in their current role.

Reskilling is when employees learn new skills outside their existing skill set to transition to a new job role within the same company.

Upskilling example

A marketing agency wants to expand its digital offerings to align with client needs better. Through a new upskilling initiative, the agency provides a stipend for employees to take a digital marketing course to learn industry trends and skills.

Employees benefit from the opportunity to expand their knowledge of digital marketing, while the agency benefits by helping its employees acquire relevant skills that allow it to expand its digital offerings and stay competitive. 

Reskilling example

A sales executive has worked for a software company for five years, is highly knowledgeable of the product, and has built a positive rapport with each client.

However, the sales executive would like to learn how to engineer software products and expresses an interest in changing departments within the company. Their manager agrees to the move, and the sales executive begins a reskilling training program with one of the software engineers to help them transition to the product development team.

The importance of upskilling and reskilling your workforce

Upskilling and reskilling are essential components of workforce management. Today’s constantly evolving world of work requires an agile workforce that can grow with it, whether through changing jobs, new industries, or emerging markets.

Companies must ensure their workforce is competitive, innovative, and capable of meeting the changing demands of the modern workplace.

Some critical benefits to upskilling and reskilling employees include the following factors:

  • Technological advancements. Technology continues to impact and change industries and jobs drastically. Upskilling and reskilling help talent adapt to new tools and technologies, ensuring they remain competent and effective.
  • Job market dynamics. With a dynamic job market constantly changing, specific skills are highly desirable while others are no longer necessary. Upskilling and reskilling enable employees to learn to stay relevant and competitive continuously. 
  • Increased productivity. Upskilling and reskilling help employees gain the skills, knowledge, and expertise needed to perform their jobs efficiently and productively.
  • Employee engagement and satisfaction. Employees feel appreciated and valued when their employers invest in their growth and professional development. Offering upskilling and reskilling opportunities can boost employee engagement and satisfaction, leading to higher company morale and loyalty. 
  • Adaptability to change. Upskilling and reskilling empower employees to adapt to changes in job roles, business processes, and industry trends. An adaptable workforce makes a more agile company more responsive to market demands.
  • Future-proofing the workforce. Through upskilling and reskilling, employers ensure long-term sustainability by preparing their employees for roles that may emerge due to industry trends and technological advancements.
  • Talent retention. Upskilling and reskilling initiatives create a positive and growth-oriented workplace culture. Employees are more likely to stay with a company that encourages professional development and fosters a fulfilling and innovative work environment.
  • Innovation and creativity. Upskilling and reskilling create a culture of innovation and creativity through continuous learning and improvement. Employees with diverse skill sets are better equipped to contribute to innovative ideas and problem-solving.
  • Diversity and inclusion. New learning initiatives provide equal opportunities for all employees to acquire new skills and progress in their careers, contributing to a more inclusive workplace.  

How to upskill and reskill your workforce

Upskilling and reskilling employees require careful planning, in-depth training, and development of employee resources. Consider the following factors when upskilling or reskilling employees:

  • Develop an upskilling and reskilling strategy. Identify areas where employee upskilling or reskilling would benefit your workforce and organization, set a budget to accommodate such initiatives, and create goals and expectations for accomplishing them. 
  • Conduct effective training. Find reputable sources, tools, or experts that help support your upskilling or reskilling initiatives and ensure the skills taught are relevant to current and future job requirements. 
  • Create a supportive environment. Foster a supportive environment, encouraging your workforce to embrace new skills and knowledge. Ensure your employees' success by regularly checking their progress and addressing concerns. 
  • Encourage continued growth. Set up a system where employees can access learning resources and further training for continued growth.
  • Partner with an expert. Work with a talent management expert like an employer of record (EOR) with knowledge of growing job and industry trends worldwide to help you quickly and compliantly hire, manage, and support your team. 

The challenges of upskilling and reskilling your workforce

While upskilling and reskilling employees are critical to strategic workforce planning, there are also various challenges.

Some common challenges of upskilling and reskilling employees include:

  • Costs. Upskilling and reskilling may require financial investments to accommodate the training, resources, and tools needed for new learning initiatives. Small companies may not have the budget for such programs, and big companies may experience difficulty with scalability or equity across a large workforce.  
  • Time constraints. Employees may struggle to find time or enthusiasm for continuous learning and training when balancing their regular job responsibilities. 
  • Resistance to change. Employees may resist upskilling or reskilling initiatives due to a fear of change, lack of a supportive culture, reluctance to leave their comfort zones or uncertainty about the benefits of acquiring new skills. 
  • Skill relevance. Employees may perceive upskilling and reskilling as a waste of time and effort if they do not understand the significance of the skills or disagree that the training aligns with organizational goals. 
  • Limited access to resources. Companies in remote areas or with a distributed workforce may not have access to quality training resources or skilled trainers, limiting their options to produce effective upskilling and reskilling programs for their employees. 
  • Employee retention. Companies risk their employees leaving for better opportunities with competitors after investing in upskilling and reskilling programs.

Learn more: The Pros and Cons of Upskilling Employees

An alternative to upskilling and reskilling

While upskilling and reskilling are critical to maintaining a healthy and competitive workforce, not all teams have the time, money, or capacity to do so.

Employers looking to fill a skills gap, address labor shortages, or seek specific talent can partner with an employer of record (EOR) to quickly and compliantly hire specialized or in-demand talent in other markets without relying solely on investing in upskilling or reskilling.

An EOR partner legally hires, pays, and manages global talent on your behalf so you can enter new markets without spending time and money on entity establishment. An EOR handles all risk mitigation and ensures ongoing compliance with local labor laws and regulations.

With global capabilities in 185+ countries, Velocity Global provides the highest level of support for you and your distributed workforce. Velocity Global offers a full suite of global workforce solutions that help you quickly and compliantly hire top talent so you can focus on growing your business.

Contact Velocity Global today to learn more. 

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