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6 Phases of Upskilling Strategy

Editor's Note: Take a look at our featured best practice, Organization Design Toolkit (103-slide PowerPoint presentation). Recent McKinsey research surveyed a large set of global executives and suggests that many companies, these days, are in a nearly permanent state of organizational flux. A rise in efforts in Organizational Design is attributed to the accelerating pace of structural change generated by market [read more]

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Employees with the right skills make or break an enterprise, create brand impression, represent the company’s culture and values.

Disruptive technology is changing the contemporary work environment.  Employees in traditional roles are now feeling insecure and disengaged.  This dissonance threatens to take away the Competitive Advantage of companies.

Employee Engagement has emerged as one of the significant pillars on which the Competitive Advantage, Productivity, and Growth of an organization rests.

Disruptive technology and the resulting Digital Economy have uprooted many of the so-called traditional jobs.  Artificial Intelligence (AI) making diagnosis on medical tests is an example.  Does this mean that the doctors will lose their jobs?  The answer is no.  Doctors will have to train to gain new skills to work with AI.

Many other fields are, likewise, seeing work of employees being taken over by machines.  Does that mean employees will lose jobs?  Yes and no.  There is an urgent need for managements to upgrade employee roles and skills as well as take other steps that make an AI-enabled Workforce.

Upskilling Strategy can create new roles for existing employees leveraging their experience and help engage employees in an otherwise adverse work environment.

Upskilling comprises of acquisition of new and pertinent competencies, made necessary because of the current or emerging work environment.  Upskilling adds to the skills the employee already possesses.  Contemporary examples of Upskilling may be provision of Digital skills, Analytical skills, or Organizational Transformation skills to the employees.

Contrastingly, Reskilling means teaching totally new skills to employees.  Reskilling often mandates sending employees back to college or trade school to obtain a degree or certificate in a new field.

Expanding comprehension regarding how to effectively design and implement Upskilling projects may possibly determine society’s Knowledge Assets.  The following 6-phase approach to Upskilling Strategy summarizes the key actions required to ensure effective design and implementation of Upskilling initiatives:

  1. Determine the circumstances and define the project.
  2. Create a skills plan.
  3. Evaluate and guide each employee.
  4. Pair jobs and skills and involve workers.
  5. Pick out trainings and trainers.
  6. Manage the project and examine output.

Let us explore some of the phases of the Upskilling Strategy a bit more.

Determine the Circumstances and Define the Project

Each circumstance is exclusive.  For determining what is involved in making an Upskilling Strategy for that particular situation; coordination, decisions, and actions on a number of levels at the same time is essential.

All Upskilling initiatives, whether originated by the local government or a result of a situation faced by a single enterprise, have some shared elements.

Create a Skills Plan

The skills plan should center priorities on the categories of jobs being impacted by the disrupting technologies, personnel extremely at risk, companies that stand to gain the greatest.

Devising a skills plan helps determine jobs that will be affected by new technologies, savings realized because of automation, categories of new skills that will be required, time span for these changes to take place.

Determining above factors helps design the training initiative that focuses on specific strategic training goals.

Evaluate and Guide Each Employee

Change always conjures fears in employees and takes them out of their comfort zones.  A well-thought-out assessment program that incorporates individual counselling and guidance can go a long way towards pacifying employee fears and assisting them move to an improved situation.

Interested in learning more about pitfalls and benefits of Upskilling, costs and ROI of Upskilling initiatives, details of the 6 phases of Upskilling Strategy?  You can download an editable PowerPoint on Upskilling Strategy here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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About Mark Bridges

Mark Bridges is a Senior Director of Strategy at Flevy. Flevy is your go-to resource for best practices in business management, covering management topics from Strategic Planning to Operational Excellence to Digital Transformation (view full list here). Learn how the Fortune 100 and global consulting firms do it. Improve the growth and efficiency of your organization by leveraging Flevy's library of best practice methodologies and templates. Prior to Flevy, Mark worked as an Associate at McKinsey & Co. and holds an MBA from the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago. You can connect with Mark on LinkedIn here.

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