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Upskilling and Reskilling: How to Use a Data-Based Approach to Improve Engagement and Retention

image of woman at computer engaging in upskilling and reskilling program

In today’s highly competitive talent market, finding and keeping skilled employees is a top challenge for organizations—particularly those in the tech industry. While recruiting new talent is a critical component to success, it’s equally important to keep current employees engaged and motivated to stay and grow with your organization. Upskilling and reskilling programs are a great way to accomplish just that.

What Are Upskilling and Reskilling Initiatives, and Why Are They Important?

Upskilling involves training employees to improve their expertise in skills they already have. Reskilling, on the other hand, is the process of training employees to develop new skills, to prepare them to take on a different role, or to pivot as new technologies emerge and the needs of the workplace evolve.

In the current workforce environment, where the pace of digital transformation is increasingly rapid and competition for talent is fierce, providing your employees with learning opportunities has never been more important. In fact, Glint’s latest Employee Well Being Report shows that having opportunities to learn and grow is now the leading factor that people say defines an exceptional work environment. And according to LinkedIn’s 2022 Learning Report, nearly three in four L&D leaders acknowledge that learning and development has become a more strategic function in their organization.

Well-Planned Upskilling and Reskilling Leads to Engaged, Productive Employees

Upskilling and reskilling programs are an excellent way to improve employee performance and ensure your talent feels valued, engaged, and a part of the organization’s future. Development programs can also be a large undertaking, so it’s critical that they’re planned and executed effectively.

The first step in a successful upskilling and reskilling program is to assess your people analytics, which will allow you to design and implement more strategic talent decisions and tailored L&D initiatives. By taking an intentional, data-based approach, you can gain insight into your current talent pool, analyze where skills gaps exist, and strategically deploy training in order to fill those gaps and future-proof the business.

As far as frequency, the rapid pace of technological advancements means that upskilling and reskilling will need to happen more often. Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends Report reveals 53% of respondents think that 50-100% of employees will need to change their skills and capabilities in the next three years.

In the tech industry specifically, upskilling focuses on making sure developers, systems engineers, and other technical workers keep up to date with the latest innovations, coding languages, and development platforms. Having employees in-house who can step up and fill roles that require constantly evolving skills reduces turnover, maintains stability, and saves recruiting and sourcing costs—enabling the kind of business agility that organization’s require in our fast-paced world.

infographic with text "3 Tips to Develop a Data-Based Strategy for Upskilling and Reskilling"

3 Tips to Develop a Data-Based Strategy for Upskilling and Reskilling

With stakes growing higher and budgets getting leaner, it’s crucial that organizations optimize their skills assessment and learning and development programs—and do so efficiently and strategically.

Using verified skills data and workforce insights such as digital credentials can help your organization analyze the current skill set of your workforce, identify skills gaps, and map learning journeys to your company KPIs. This allows you to maximize employee potential and keep existing talent within the organization engaged through continuous learning and a recognition culture.

Here are three tips for developing a data-based strategy for upskilling and reskilling to drive employee engagement and retention:

1. Rely on verified data, not hunches

Future proofing your organization shouldn’t be based on gut feel, manager feedback, or self-reporting. Instead, HR and learning and development teams should analyze metrics around which skills your people already possess, and where opportunity areas exist in order to close gaps with targeted training.

When it comes to assessing skills, using verified digital credentials allows you to objectively view the strength and gap areas of your workforce, and make informed decisions based on sound data. This skills-based approach can also move hiring and promotion decisions away from outdated proxies such as background and education opportunities—bolstering diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives.

2. Map employee learning paths

Your people are your organization's greatest asset, and understanding an individual’s current skill set allows you to fully leverage their talent and foster their continued development. Having an employee profile that includes a snapshot of the digital credentials they’ve earned from your organization—plus any they’ve earned elsewhere—can inform decisions around targeted upskilling and reskilling.

Mapping individual learning paths based on verified skills not only keeps your training efficient, it also signals to your employees you’re invested in their growth.

3. Monitor and optimize your skill-building programs

It’s not enough to simply make development opportunities available to your workforce. Your employees are busy, and upskilling and reskilling programs must be marketed to them in order to increase uptake. By connecting your L&D initiatives with digital credentials, you’ll be able to analyze the number of digital badges earned—giving you insight into how successful a specific internal marketing campaign has been for a program.

This knowledge will help you tweak and optimize your approach for marketing future programs with continued success. And if you’re part of the Credly network, you can compare your program performance to other organizations on Credly, allowing you to see how you’re pacing against industry benchmarks.

Position Your Upskilling and Reskilling Initiatives Positively to Gain Stakeholder Buy-In

While many employees value the opportunity to develop their skillsets, it’s important that your organization introduce the training in a positive way, and emphasize the benefits the employee will receive. Upskilling and reskilling initiatives shouldn’t make your employees fearful that their current role is becoming irrelevant. Instead, they should understand that learning new and better ways of getting work done is how we move the world forward together.

At the same time, certain leaders in some organizations may be hesitant to invest in upskilling and reskilling their employees for fear they might take their new skills and move on. The reality is, it’s more likely that your employees will leave your company if you don’t provide development opportunities. According to a report from Sitel Group, 37% of current employees say they would leave their current job/employer if they were not offered training to learn new skills.

Providing upskilling and reskilling opportunities can become a competitive differentiator for attracting talent and keeping your current workforce engaged.

Credly Workforce Puts Your Upskilling and Reskilling Data to Work

Upskilling and reskilling programs ensure your workforce is equipped to stay ahead of the curve in the rapidly changing world of work. By providing the right development opportunities, you’ll keep your employees engaged and motivated to grow with your organization. With Credly Workforce, you’ll gain insights into the skills your employees have to surface internal opportunities for talent and uncover gap areas that you can focus on with L&D initiatives.