Upskilling helps businesses give their employees the skills and tools they need to be as effective as possible in their roles. By providing training, educational programs, and career development opportunities to your employees, you can help to elevate their skills to a new level. In addition to higher productivity, more learning at work can also improve your employees’ morale and boost retention rates.
While important, some businesses don’t have substantial upskilling programs. It can be difficult to know where to start when designing a compelling upskilling program, especially with the incredible depth and breadth of training resources available online. Evaluating which of these resources will make the greatest impact on employees and then motivating employees to take part in them can present other obstacles for busy business leaders to navigate.
In this guide, we’ll explore these three tips for improving your business’s upskilling program:
- Outline the skills your company needs.
- Create a culture of continued learning.
- Design custom microcredential courses.
Sometimes, the best way to maximize your company’s upskilling program is to circle back to the basics and reevaluate your focus. Let’s get started!
Revamping your upskilling program can feel overwhelming, especially if you have no idea where to begin. However, starting small and narrowing down which skills you want to boost or teach your employees can give you a solid jumping-off point.
To remove some of the guesswork, use these questions to guide the process:
- What are your goals? Go back to square one and read over the goals set for your business. Reference your strategy for achieving those goals and think about how you might use your upskilling program within that strategy.
- What will you need to complete those goals? Identify the skills or roles your business would need to have on deck to accomplish your goals. For example, if one of your goals is to make your hiring process more efficient, identify the skills that will help strengthen your HR team’s abilities. Create a list of these required abilities, sorting them by the type of skill, how advanced the skill is, and how important the skill is to achieving your goal.
- Is there a competence gap at your company? Create two categories: one for the skills your employees already have, and one for the skills they will need to learn. The difference between these two categories will indicate what you should focus on in your upskilling program.
Once you discern which skills you need to focus on in your program, you can start choosing open educational resources to build out training materials. These free, open-access resources are available to anyone, making them an affordable option for supplementing other training resources in your upskilling program.
You could structure a comprehensive, engaging upskilling program that has every tool and resource your employees need to develop new skills but see limited success because employees don’t feel motivated to take part in it. Building a strong culture of continuous learning can help employees see the value of taking part in professional development programs.
In fact, strong professional development programs can benefit your organization in multiple ways. Not only will employees bring new, more sophisticated skills to their work, but giving employees opportunities to grow and improve will boost their engagement and motivation. Of course, you have to let employees know about and encourage them to pursue these opportunities first.
Structuring your company culture around continuous learning will take time and dedication. Here are a few ways you can create an environment that nurtures learning opportunities:
- Upskill leaders. Prioritize upskilling managers first. Not only will this set a positive example for the rest of your employees, but the learning managers do will have a larger impact on your team. Managers tend to wear many hats, and equipping them with the tools they need to take on each of their responsibilities can help them improve their directs’ performances.
- Personalize the learning experience. Allow your employees to choose the learning paths they are most interested in. Provide a few options such as developing their soft skills or learning more about SEO optimization. People learn best when they are truly engaged in the topic, so identify and prioritize those skills first.
- Encourage collaboration. Your employees likely have unique backgrounds and career experiences, meaning that they could each bring something new to the table in terms of training. Give employees with more uncommon skills the chance to teach fellow employees what they know.
Building an environment that promotes continuous learning for all employees will require regular time and effort from your company. To keep this culture in place and use the proper strategies, check in with employees often to determine if there is anything that could be added, removed, or changed about your program to make it work better for them.
While there are hundreds of upskilling resources and courses available online, you may have trouble finding the right one. Some industries and businesses are bound to require very niche skills, and finding a course that is tailored to your company’s needs can be challenging. However, you can create custom courses that are built to teach the specific skills and knowledge your employees need to be successful in their roles without wading through irrelevant information.
Microcredential courses are a type of short, stackable resource that learners use to develop or enhance the skills relevant to their field or job title. You can create a custom microcredential course about any topic or skill, but a few common examples include:
- Data analytics
- Communication skills
- Financial management
- Technical skills
- Project management
Not only can you create courses that are hyperspecific to the skills that will help your company meet its goals, but they also tend to be asynchronous and highly flexible. If your company operates on a hybrid work schedule, microcredentials can easily fit into your employees’ schedules. Each employee can take on the course at their own pace from home or at the office.
Developing an upskilling program is an important first step every company should take to make the most of its talented employees. Be sure to consistently update your program to reflect new goals, advancements in your industry, and your employees’ ever-evolving needs.
Brady Kalb, Skyepack CEO
Brady is a “reformed engineer turned entrepreneur”. After engineering gigs at two Fortune 100 companies, Brady left the corporate world to pursue a business degree and seek out new challenges. Brady’s passion for education stems from his desire to “always be learning” and find innovative solutions to difficult problems. Brady enjoys family outings to the park, explaining the answers of “Life, the Universe, and Everything” to his daughters, and reading just about anything (favorites are classics, popular fiction, and biographies).