Upskilling and reskilling are notoriously common terms in the workplace today. The employees we once hired for specific job roles have inevitably evolved into something slightly different leveraging new or different skillsets than they previously had. According to World Economic Forum more than one billion workers worldwide will need to be reskilled by 2030.
Think about it - you've been in your role for several years. Are you still doing the same things today you were doing on day one? Have you developed new communication skills, are engaging new processes, or leveraging different protocols? Most of us would say yes.
Regardless of what motivates an employee to reskill or upskill, an organization can likely anticipate that new skills will be needed in the future, but how do organizations prepare and standardize this upskilling or reskilling process?
The answer comes in focusing on skill-centric training and development when upskilling or reskilling employees.
This, of course, doesn't happen in a vacuum, and we have to think about not only developing and deploying skill-centric learning initiatives but also providing opportunities to skill development to take place. Before we look at how to develop and deploy skill-centric training, let's first consider what skill-centric training is and why it's important.
What is skill-centric training?
Skill-centric training is training that's goals and outcomes center around the learner becoming capable of doing something new. They don't simply need new knowledge, but that skill must be actionable and maintained over a long period of time.
Skill development isn't following step-by-step instructions to build a table once and never doing it again. It's like tying your shoes and taking on a new business process that will become part of your role.
Why skill-centric learning for existing employees?
As organizations pivot to skill-based hiring, they must also focus on reskilling and upskilling current employees to increase agility and flexibility in their roles. Offer skill-based learning to learning gives employers the chance to maximize their existing human capital by developing a change agile group of contributors.
As employees continue to finetune a skill, the learner becomes more efficient and capable of contributing in new and innovative ways to improve the organization.
What about change agility?
The focus on skill-centric learning comes down to the organizational strategy of change agility, and how capable employees are to navigate, understand and adjust to changes within the organization.
It goes without saying that cloud-based products are taking the tech world by storm and requiring organizations and customers alike to be prepared for changes and flexible and resilient when those changes come. Developing a strategy for skill-centric training is key for this change agility. Emphasis on skill training and development goes hand in hand with the ability to adjust to changes and avoid a significant hit to productivity.
How do we do it?
The question remains, how do we develop a strategy for skill-centric learning within our organizations? It's a complicated question to answer, but it can be done by considering a few important points.
What do our employees already know?
You must determine the existing knowledge base of your employees. It's best to look at this by role, team, or business area to define more tangible characteristics. This allows you to see the existing skillsets and define them clearly to avoid duplicative efforts in training development.
What can we anticipate for the future of our company?
This requires a bit of guesswork in some cases, but in general, the company must have an idea for where they are headed. This could be anything from reorganizations to product acquisitions that require new skills. Regardless of the changes ahead, it is important to have an idea of how the organization will be changing to prepare employees for new skills necessary to maintain their current productivity.
What resources does your organization have to enact these skill-centric learning opportunities?
Leadership support is the most important resource you can leverage to communicate training and reinforce its benefits within the organization. The skill-centric strategy must be a top-down initiative supported by every level of leadership to ensure its success. Every organization can ensure leadership is on the same page and should take steps to make sure a consistent and positive message is being delivered to encourage employees to engage in training.
In addition, the organization must consider what tools they can use to take standard knowledge-based training and turn it into something actionable for the learner. Simple clicking and scrolling won't help a learner to develop a new skill, they should engage in activities and exercises that develop skills and encourage learners to maintain them over time.
The bottom line
Skill-centric learning is a manageable and realistic way to retain employees and provide them with new skills to be change agile and prepared to do new processes and skills. Reinforcing the importance of skill learning must start at the leadership level and trickle down to employees so employees see the value of continued skill development and feel supporting in continuing to learn on the job. It's also important to use the resources your organization has available to develop and deliver training that is meaningful to employees by providing exercises they can mimic in their roles.