Why ‘upskilling’ & ‘reskilling’ are fast becoming the latest buzzwords and a hot issue!

Jobs – and the skills required to perform these jobs – are changing constantly. This is why demand for upskilling and reskilling will continue to grow over the next few years to keep pace with digitalization, robotization, and automation, and the ensuing skills gaps.

In this article, we’ll be examining why this is happening, but more importantly, how to respond.


Upskilling vs. reskilling

‘Upskilling’ and ‘reskilling’ are terms that relate to learning new skills. Nonetheless, there’s an important difference between the two.

  • Upskilling implies learning relevant, new skills to complement and supplement existing skill sets.
  • Reskilling implies learning new skills to replace existing skill sets, as these are no longer relevant in today or tomorrow’s workplace.


Why is this so important?

Every year, the World Economic Forum publishes its vision for the future of work and skills in its report titled The Future of Jobs Report.

According to the 2020 report, an estimated 40% of employees’ core skills will change within the next five years. This means that 50% of all employees will have to upskill or reskill.

But what’s causing this? Here are the two main reasons:


1. Skills gaps

In a nutshell, the term ‘skills gap’ means the difference between what employers are looking for and what employees can offer. For example, loads of job vacancies, but few or no suitable candidates. Or vice versa, lots of job seekers with certain skills, but few or no companies looking for these skills.

Here are a few of the causes:

  • structural misalignment – between school leavers’ acquired knowledge and prospective employers’ actual requirements
  • education systems – can’t keep up with ever-changing technological developments
  • employers – looking for employees with a lot of experience even though the field is breaking completely new ground
  • boomers – an aging population leaving the workforce and, with it, taking skills and knowledge that younger generations are no longer interested in or being taught

But what’s the solution? How do we close the skills gap? By upskilling and reskilling!

Read on to find out more about getting to grips with these two terms in practice.


2. Digitalization, robotization & automation

Digitalization refers to the transfer of tasks, operational processes, and services to a digital rather than a physical environment. Or in other words, ‘We’re using computers more and more often.’ Robotization and automation take this a step further and in the same vein mean, ‘We’re replacing humans with machines.’

These technological developments are accelerating at an ever-greater rate. In turn, this is leading to new customer needs and market demands, but also changing job descriptions and the need for new skills. Employees will have to reskill or upskill to keep moving with the times.

In fact, within five years, machines will be performing almost half of the tasks humans used to perform. Currently, machines only perform a third of all tasks. The corona pandemic has also served to accelerate digitalization still further. Some 84% of employers are now planning to speed up the digitalization of their work processes.

But what can you do as an organization?

In the next few years, upskilling and reskilling will be becoming more important than ever before. Fortunately, you can take steps to prevent this from becoming a problem.

  • Establish training programs for your current workforce.
  • Set up a mentorship scheme in which experienced veterans transfer still-needed skills to the younger generation.
  • Focus on creating versatile and multidisciplinary staff. Job rotation is a prime example of how to achieve this.
  • Add new tasks to existing job profiles so that staff have to learn new skills.
  • Hire specialists to fill gaps for which your current workforce has yet to be retrained. And learn from their expertise!


Tip: Map your skills!

To identify skills gaps and set up targeted training programs, it’s advisable to map the skills already present. Skills matrices are one of the best ways to do this. They’re a handy tool to visually depict which skills are already present in your organization, which are scarce, and which are missing altogether.

An even better way to achieve this is to use AG5’s skills management software.

What’s more, information can be accessed and updated quickly, easily, and directly in real time from the work floor, as your skill matrices are stored centrally in the cloud.

Find out how AG5’s skills management software works or schedule a personalized demo.


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