Knowledge Center / Blog
“Upskilling” for Workforce Longevity
Upskilling a workforce has become one of the hottest items in the last several months. This is primarily because the recent pandemic, followed by an economic downturn, has resulted in many businesses losing some of their most knowledgeable and skilled employees. When this happens it creates knowledge, skill, and ability (KSAs) gaps, where the organization no longer has individuals who can adequately perform the required work.
One traditional, common solution to this has been cross-training employees. For context, cross training typically means that an employee is asked to develop KSAs of positions similar to their own, but in other areas of a company. This is almost always going to be for roles that are of the same significance, importance, or “level” compared to what they currently do. Hence the term “cross.” Although cross training has proven to be a good short-term band-aid for employers, it simply doesn’t provide a long-term value proposition, or career path, for employees.
Enter upskilling. Similar to cross training, upskilling focuses on building new KSAs in employees that are structured around allowing employees to advance or contribute at higher levels. This may mean developing KSAs in employees that they will not yet utilize or may not be exactly aligned with their current work. The idea behind building “up,” and not “across,” is that you are preparing your current employees to do more and to do higher level jobs that are typically going to be more difficult to find external talent for. In addition, if done effectively, you’ll have internal employees ready to step up to the next level and will most likely begin contributing at a higher level, and at a faster rate, than external talent. This also provides employees with a longer career trajectory and provides a richer value proposition.
Upskilling a workforce can be complex and takes dedication to truly make it work. It’s also a long-term, ongoing strategy for workforce readiness and business continuity, so employers may not see the benefits of a program like this immediately. If you need assistance or want to explore how you can use upskilling in your organization, reach out to The Employer Group.