Source: Times of Malta
Date: 25th April 2021
By: Tania Camilleri
In today’s digital economy, it is becoming essential for organisations to have an agile and diverse workforce. However, the skills gap between what employers need their employees to be capable of, and what those employees can actually do, is growing. This is because advancement in technology creates new possibilities but also requires the workforce to learn new skills and competencies for the new and changing roles.
Employers are more than ever recognising the fact that to remain competitive, they need to invest in people development on a digital, technical, analytical and soft skills level. This is often achieved through an upskilling and reskilling programme as it is becoming more challenging to recruit top talent to fill the existing skills gaps.
The terms ‘upskilling’ and ‘reskilling’ are often used interchangeably as they both refer to the learning of new skills. However, the difference lies in the context. Upskilling is primarily focused on aiding employees become more skilled and relevant in their current role while reskilling focuses on making employees available for other jobs within the organisation.
The upskilling and reskilling journey starts by the identification of gaps between existing skills and future needs. The use of skills matrices may help the organisation identify skills gaps and set up targeted training programmes as they visually portray current skills as well as skills that are in short supply and those which are missing completely.
Once the skills gaps have been identified, a training plan is set up by taking into account: whether the training can be done internally or if an external provider needs to be engaged; the maximum capacity for each training session; and the most suitable method of learning such as classroom training, virtual classroom learning, mentoring, e-learning programmes and so on.
To compliment the internal employee development programmes, employers may also offer financial incentives such as employee grants to attend conferences and training programmes organised by external providers, and/or to pursue an external qualification as part of a holistic upskilling and reskilling strategy.
However, it is not enough for an employee to learn a new skill – the organisation also needs to provide the opportunity to practise skills learnt within the next three to six months of attendance. This so as to ensure return on investment both in tangible terms, such as increased revenue and reduced costs, but also intangibly, like employee engagement and increased commitment to the organisation.
It is evident that the future of work is moving towards a more skill-based evaluation of people, with continuous professional development of employees being central to business success.
In essence, the role of the Learning and Employee Development function within an organisation has become more crucial as it needs to be agile in the upskilling and reskilling journey to fully support the organisation’s strategy.
Tania Camilleri , Doctorate in social sciences, specialist in training and employee development