How Upskilling Can Drive Your Employee Development

Corey Bleich
4 min read

In the new digital economy, it’s not enough for current and future employees to be good at the basics. Just knowing the Google suite and figuring out how to run a Zoom meeting won’t move your business into the future. With entirely new technical fields and disruptive trends flooding the market, digital upskilling is more important than ever. Here’s what you need to know.

What is upskilling?

Upskilling is the trend of growing your workforce through training in new technologies. While other types of employee training might focus on regulations and learning processes, upskilling focuses on learning the ways in which new technologies can help workers do their jobs in new and more effective ways.

Why is it so crucial? In the digital age, competition is no longer just with the shop down the street. Now, your business is competing with companies all across the globe. The fastest, most skilled company with employees who are agile and responsive? That’s the company that’s moving forward.

What are the benefits of upskilling employees?

The benefits of upskilling employees start with the employees themselves. Imagine the difference between a worker who moves seamlessly through their day, unphased by a variety of digitally-driven tasks and one who has to stop constantly to ask questions or feels unsure of what steps to take to solve a problem. The former is going to be happier, more productive, and more fulfilled at their job. The latter? Not so much.

The confidence that upskilling provides employees helps boost morale and reduces employee turnover. This saves your business money in terms of new hires and provides long-term, experienced employees with the growth opportunities they expect.

54% of businesses are suffering from a digital skills gap

When you upskill your employees, you also reduce the digital skills gap that nearly 54% of businesses are experiencing. This not only increases your competitive edge but revamps your company culture to create a growth mindset—a cultural shift that means:

  • Better collaboration between workers and their technology
  • A more agile workforce
  • A more adaptable business model in the future

What are some upskill technologies?

Upskill technologies are those cutting-edge technologies that help employees learn new skills more quickly, safely, and effectively.

One of the most beneficial upskill technologies is the use of augmented reality (AR) for a number of learning scenarios. AR can take a process or task and place the employee at the heart of it to help them learn a new skill.

For example, consider an electrician working through a complicated technical job. With AR, the electrician is guided through the work, step-by-step. Or, digital checklists are tied to a physical location in your factory to help industrial employees comply with all the safety requirements of a new piece of equipment. Augmented reality can help with both formal learning and performance support, providing on-the-job instruction and troubleshooting. You can learn more about the future of augmented reality for training in our full guide on the topic.

Along the same lines, virtual reality can upskill employees where situations are critical or dangerous. Think of or a surgeon trying out cutting-edge surgical tools. Virtual reality gives them safe practice and upskill opportunities with less risk.

Mobile microlearning resources are another excellent tool for the just-in-time upskilling needs of your employees. These resources are accessible on their smartphones and might include:

  • Videos
  • Annotated images
  • Assessments
  • Hotspots and instructions for work

Using self-directed eLearning, upskilling the workforce can be as simple as opening a dedicated app or website on your smartphone or mobile device and allowing them to choose the areas they want to study.

How to upskill team members

Digital upskilling starts where all good training starts: with a training needs assessment.

This is a good, hard look at what your employees already know and where their growing edges are. And upskill needs assessments also set goals that nurture the talents employees bring to the table while setting a plan and a timeframe to shore up weak spots.

Next, design a plan to upskill with an eye to the future. There is a complicated balance between improving skills to complete current work while looking ahead to what may change. Agile companies who monitor emerging trends are most able to roll with the ups and downs in business.

Once you identify upskill opportunities and potential programs to put in place, consider the best delivery model. Do your employees work better with synchronous or asynchronous learning, or a combination of both? Do you need mobile learning that can be accessed on-the-job? Can you add in AR tools to support them where they work? Will employees have long stretches of time for self-directed learning, or is microlearning in the form of short videos or interactive PDFs the way to go?

Chances are good that employees will need and appreciate each of these upskill strategies at different times and for different tasks. Once you decide on the target skills and how they will be delivered, it’s time to start design. The upskill process hinges on clear and complete training that includes assessment and retraining when necessary. They not only learn new skills and technologies, but also capture them in long-term memory.

Get started

You may have the resources you need in-house to get started with upskilling your employees, or you might choose to work with a company that specializes in digital upskilling for the 21st century workforce.

EdgePoint Learning offers robust custom or collaborative content development services that can help you upskill employees on complex topics. From learning a new skill to exploring a new technology field, our comprehensive eLearning and PinPoint mobile capabilities can provide training when and where employees need it most.

Whether you have content in place for digital upskilling or are starting from scratch, EdgePoint can help with full or co-development options. Get in touch today to learn more.

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