Some pretty shocking figures from Korn Ferry show that by 2030, more than 85 million jobs could go unfilled globally because there simply aren’t enough skilled workers to fill them.
This is partially due to demographic shifts in many developed nations. For example in the US, baby boomers retired in droves between 2010 and 2020, notes WTW’s analysis of U.S. Census and Bureau of Labor Statistics. But younger generations haven’t had the time or opportunity to develop the skills needed to fill the leadership roles boomers are vacating.
Then there’s the tech skills crisis set to cost businesses and economies dearly. According to
AND Digital research, $285 billion of Britain’s economic growth is at risk between now and 2026 if it fails to close its gaping digital skills gap.
What’s needed is a proactive approach to the talent crunch — which is where upskilling and reskilling come in.
So what is upskilling and reskilling?
Upskilling and reskilling are slightly different.
Upskilling is training an employee in news skills to optimise their performance in an existing role or to potentially support a promotion. Reskilling trains employees to fill a completely different position that they have no experience in.
Both involve closing skills gaps from within an organisation rather than attempting to hire externally. This is an absolutely vital strategy for building a resilient workforce in the face of the growing talent shortage.
Why upskilling and reskilling is important
In a candidate’s market, employees are difficult to hold onto. They’re in the driving seat – often able to easily find new roles with bigger paychecks or better benefits. Money isn’t the only reason for employees to jump ship, though. Career development appears to be top of the agenda.
In fact, 32% of employees surveyed by LinkedIn changed jobs because their employer didn’t offer any upskilling or reskilling opportunities. Offering workforces the option to develop their skills or even change career tracks has been proven to create loyalty, improve engagement and therefore boost employee retention. In fact, a previous LinkedIn survey found that 94% of employees said they would stay at a company longer if their employer invested in their careers.
Hiring employees is an incredibly costly task. According to the British Business Bank, hiring a new member of staff on an average UK salary of £27,600 actually costs their employer around £62,890 in the first year of their employment. Upskilling and reskilling can majorly cut costs here, even when factoring in training. Upskilling can give existing employees the skills to perhaps step up into a new role. Reskilling could allow an employee to change roles and departments completely, saving HR departments time and money.
Finally, where businesses are looking to attract new talent, a structured upskilling and reskilling programme is likely to pique the interest of the very best. This is especially true for the millennial and Gen Z cohorts. Some 29% of respondents to a Deloitte survey said that learning and development opportunities were the top reason why they chose to work for their current organisation.
Upskilling and reskilling the workforce
By now we’ve hopefully convinced you that upskilling and reskilling is a key strategy in the current war for talent. Businesses that get it right will come out of this crunch much better off than peers who only paid the idea lip service.
Firstly, businesses need to allow for continuous learning and development and foster a culture of learning and development within their organisation. This means that employees need to be able to consistently learn new information and skills on an ongoing basis. It’s not a one time event — instead, continuous learning unfolds over an employee’s time with a company with one or more specific goals in mind.
Ensuring these goals are reached requires the use of structured learning programmes. Rather than trusting to ‘on the job’ or unstructured learning, often delivered ad-hoc by peers and not properly measured, businesses should allow employees access to formal courses, which outline the specific skills to be learned, a time-frame for learning and final testing.
Leveraging online learning platforms is one way to ensure employees can easily access industry recognised learning experiences, fitting smaller or larger courses around their day-to-day roles rather than taking chunks of time away.
Ultimately, by building a culture of learning into your organisation that prioritises upskilling and reskilling, and ensuring these options are built into HR practices and communicated both internally and externally, businesses can dodge the talent crunch.