How Upskilling Will Boost Retention & Lower The Skills Gap

How Upskilling Will Boost Retention & Lower The Skills Gap

June 21, 2018

According to a study conducted last year by CareerBuilder, the skills gap is costing companies close to $1 million annually. Almost 60 percent of US employers reported having job openings that stay vacant for 12 weeks or more. Moreover, the problem exists across industries, from general internists and marketing managers to web developers and financial managers. More than two-thirds of employers stated they are concerned about the growing skills gap and 55 percent have already seen a negative impact on their business due to extended job vacancies.

One of the solutions to this problem is upskilling. In addition, training programs with an eye toward internal mobility have another benefit: an increased retention rate. According to the Resourcing and Talent Planning Survey 2017, the most popular initiative taken for improving staff retention is through enhanced learning and development opportunities (not higher pay or improved working conditions, as you may think). And the most effective method? Increased learning and development opportunities.

Here is how to make upskilling work for your company.

Workforce Planning

Your upskilling initiative should start with a strategic workforce plan. Conducting research on what areas your company is currently lacking in soft skills and technical skills, and then what areas may become a need in the future, is necessary for you to build a successful plan. You should look at how the industry is predicted to change over the next five to 10 years to determine what skills will be needed to bridge that gap. Beyond actual skills required, determine in what way your business will grow and relatively how many additional employees will be necessary to continue operating and expanding.

Interview Process

During the hiring process, it may be tempting to look for someone who checks all the boxes outlined in the job description. This may force you to look outside the company. However, look internally first, when possible, before posting the role to the public. It may surprise you who is eager for internal mobility (moving up or over). If it is going to take you months to fill the position, you may be able to train an already-informed employee to do the job in the same (or shorter) amount of time. This investment in the employee goes a long way in boosting employee experience, which can have a positive ripple effect on the business as a whole.

Training Programs

A program dedicated to upskilling employees should be separate from required training. An interest in upskilling programs will show you who is most engaged in internal mobility opportunities. Keep these tips in mind when building your upskilling offering.

1. Always offer upskilling opportunities, not just when a need arises. This will ensure you have someone to call on when necessary.

2. Focus on job-specific skills that can be incorporated immediately. Consider credentialing opportunities that make their capabilities “official.”

3. Do not forget about soft skills and management training to start pipelining for future needs.

4. Have a one-on-one with each employee to build a plan that is meaningful on an individual level. This will keep them more motivated.

5. Conquer one skillset at a time, then move on to the next. It will help build confidence and lead to mastering new skills.

6. If possible, incorporate a mentorship in the program to guide the new learner.

7. Use real-world examples to engage employees in the learning process and show them how their newly acquired skills are valuable.

Remember to take the time to invest in upskilling your employees in order to help your company to grow and increase employee engagement.


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