Looking at the corporate world through a telescopic eye, we can see the great resignation and the great lay-offs. We also see the great hiring freezes, and the new work trends.
What concerns us the most is that the trending work systems require employees to be more learned and updated with certain skillsets.
In the post-pandemic era, various companies have encountered significant employee skills gaps. In response to that, the companies can either hire new employees or they can upskill/reskill their existing employees.
Research says that the former can be more expensive. So, investing in an in-house learning and development program is more suitable for companies. This can save the cost of new hiring and help in retaining the existing employees looking for career development.
Upskilling is vital in the fast pacing world of innovations and technology upgrades. Stagnation can be diabolic and improper training can burn pockets.
So how can we be sure that upskilling would bring profits? Upskilling is all about education. Education is all about learning. Learning is all about developmental change. Change brings growth, and growth is the corridor to success.
Upskilling includes teaching them new related skills that can keep them fresh and competent as per the industry demands. For example, introducing a computer engineer to a new language to understand the latest technology versions.
Reskilling is another concept where employees learn a new skill that helps them do a new job. For example, teaching an operations manager to work as a marketing manager.
L&D initiatives in companies post pandemic
A company can make a structural and periodical learning and development plan, which can begin by assessing the skill and training needs of the company.
Studies show that the need for L&D is arising because of certain factors, which are:
Change in work patterns, such as remote and hybrid settings
Change in technology, attitudes, and work behaviors of a new generation of employees
Need for efficiency improvement and employee career development needs
What the Data Says
An insightful survey from Mercer and Mettle on the state of L&D in 2022 highlights that around 55% of companies are investing more in upskilling and training employees. Moreover, around 38% of companies have increased their L&D budget by 20-50%.
This comes as the aftermath of the pandemic. The pandemic baffled everyone and gave panic attacks to company heads. Employers and employees could not cope with the remote set up due to downfalls in work-from-home environment. The downfalls include poor communication structure, burnout, blurry work timings, etc. This made the companies to believe that employees are short of certain skills, especially soft skills, and they should get skill training for that.
The report also mentioned that companies these days are relying more on LMSs and 360-degree feedback for assessing employee skills.
However, nearly 30% of employees feel that the existing L&D programs are not effective and require improvement. Many reasons could be the cause of this, such as poor infrastructure for problem identification and skill analysis, less focus on skill development, etc.
Upskilling strategies of companies have suffered because of the compulsory Covid lockdowns. These companies have realized what scuttled their smooth workflow during the pandemic and what they need from their employees now. That is why a majority of the companies have increased their L&D budgets.
The companies are mostly looking out to develop soft skills like communication and virtual teamwork, and coordination.
Skill requirements in the changing work environment
With the pandemic, a remote working order came into existence for many regular employees. In this remote set up, employees found specific skills that had higher importance than other skills.
Research showed that employees required the soft skills the most when working in a remote environment. Among the soft skills, the significance order shows communication skills to be on the top; other than that, technical skills and ownership qualities were considered significant.
A Gartner research study mentioned that 70% of the employees believed they did not have the skills for their job. In the pandemic downturn, lay-off season and mandatory skill requirements have pushed employees to upskill or reskill themselves.
In 2020, a revelation by the World Economic Forum said that by 2025, nearly half of the workforce would need upskilling and reskilling because of technological changes.
MNCs that invest in L&D programs
All companies that are internally woke invest in their most important asset; the human resource. A skilled staff is like investment in gold.
For instance, Amazon has its own training program where volunteer front line employees are reskilled with software knowledge to let them into technical roles in the company.
Another company Workday rolled out a Career Hub last year for their employees to help them learn on the job. The tool contains gig work opportunities from other departments, which can help employees find colleague mentors and upskill themselves. The cherry on top is that 95% of employees found this system to be very motivating and one that helped them upskill.
Companies like Caterpillar, Heineken, and Unilever use L&D practices like reverse mentoring programs, where junior employees give their best knowledge to the senior employees. This comes with the understanding that junior employees comprise the generation or interests of the market they cater to.
Ed-tech companies that help to upskill employees
Several companies render upskilling courses because of such a large market that exists for catering. Every employee needs to be updated with the newest knowledge and technologies at least once.
From the time we enter the corporate world until we are in it, better technologies are built, innovative processes are developed, and newer skills are needed. These constant developments call for brushing skill sets, which is what companies do. So, where are we going with this?
Due to changes in work patterns and technologies, upskilling and reskilling are in vogue. Software developers, for example, need training for the latest technologies like blockchain development, AI, etc. Various new companies have pounced on this demanding area and ventured into the business.
Companies like Udemy, Coursera, Simplilearn, and LinkedIn learning have been in this space for a while now, but we are seeing a surge in companies with newer skill concepts.
They provide upskilling courses in almost all work areas, including software development, digital marketing, and product or project management.
For instance, Myskillscamp is an L&D website based on the idea of a Learning Experience platform. It helps the user to analyze what they need, and then their AI suggests different courses for them in a personalized manner.
A recently funded Ed-tech startup called Scaler Academy is built on the idea of skilling, upskilling, and reskilling software professionals.
Another place for software professionals is a budding big-shot, Wilco. This Ed-tech platform which was founded last year received $7 million in funding this June. The platform gives the learners a lesson beyond just coding by simulating a real-company environment and solving everyday problems.
GOMYCODE is another disruptive startup based in Tunisia which recently raised $8 million for expansion. It is also about upskilling and reskilling. It focuses on teaching in a hybrid mode, where 50% of classes are online, and the rest are offline in the company’s physical centers across Africa and the Middle East.
Self-skilling is not easy. It comes with intense self-motivation and by shedding away chunks of procrastination. The process becomes easier when it brings celebrity mentors along with it, like the one with MasterClass and Skillshare. Their USP is using the influence of a successful icon and then letting them teach those skills.
Startups in B2B space
Companies are using efficient learning management systems to deliver on the L&D needs of the organization. Ed-tech companies offering LMS and LXPs are getting noticeable businesses from corporations willing to impart skills training to their employees.
We can understand this by learning how Degreed has expanded. Degreed has received more than $400 million in 15 rounds and has been on an acquisition spree this year.
Another rising startup providing a learning platform is WorkRamp. The company received $40 million in March this year and is looking forward to further expansion with acquisitions in its plans.
Upskilling is important for employees and employers
Upskilled employees are more likely to get employed even after a career gap.
This tells a fundamental fact about personality, which corporate recruiters consider. They might not highlight the work gap, but they may want to understand what the gap period was spent doing.
Employers are interested in hiring proactive employees who work on themselves at their initiative. An upskilled employee is a company’s asset, who would deliver more than what the company would invest in them through training programs.
Therefore, saying that upskilling is essential just for the employees would be partially true.
This is what we found from Katty Douraghy from the Entrepreneurs’ Organization San Francisco, president, Artisan Creative telling Inc.
“I have no concerns with hiring someone out of work due to the pandemic or any other reason, as long as the candidate shows continued engagement and progression in their field. Our company’s core focus is recruiting and staffing in the creative, digital, and marketing. I look at factors, including whether they’ve been freelancing, updating their creative portfolio with passion projects or volunteer work, and embarking on continuing education courses. There are some amazing creatives on the job market currently.“