How to Upskill and Reskill Employees to Prepare for AI

AI will have a critical impact on how the workforce is developed over time


Grace Tripathy , Fri 12 January 2024
Throughout history, forces such as globalization have reshaped most employees’ jobs. Technology, including AI, stands to revolutionize those positions even more. Soon, some jobs may no longer exist, while many will look different than they do now. Other roles companies haven’t dreamed up yet will be necessary. These are solid reasons businesses can’t afford to grow complacent. 

Fortunately, leaders have two highly effective talent development tools available to them: upskilling and reskilling.

Upskilling and reskilling employees are learning techniques that prepare companies for the changes happening now. Continuous learning is the foundation for success. 

Key Differences Between Upskilling and Reskilling

While there is some correlation between the two approaches, upskilling differs from reskilling in that it doesn’t seek to move someone into a new role. Upskilling enhances an employee’s existing abilities by teaching them new tricks of the trade. A position may require brand-new knowledge, but there’s still a business need for it. An example of upskilling is an IT technician who takes certification courses on newly released software.

In contrast, reskilling prepares current workers for different roles. The positions they’ve been doing for several years might be on their way out. While there’s no longer a market demand for the employees’ existing skills, the business doesn’t want to replace them. Instead, the company can train these workers to embark on altered career paths.

The emergence of artificial intelligence is one clear driver of this phenomenon. If AI eliminates receptionist jobs in the next few years, HR departments could identify employees in receptionist positions and offer to prepare them for various customer service specialist roles. The training these workers receive equips them with the skills they require to transition. Reskilling doesn’t simply build on existing abilities but may augment transferable ones.

The Benefits of Upskilling

Many managers believe talent walks out the door because of money. Although they’re not necessarily wrong about that, low pay isn’t the only contributing factor. A lack of career growth is one of the main drivers of turnover in organizations, regardless of industry. Employees don’t want to feel stuck in a dead-end job. They want to be challenged, take on stretch assignments and advance in their careers.

Advancement doesn’t always mean ascending to management. Bumping an employee to a senior specialist role with new responsibilities can keep them committed to the organization. Upskilling is a way to give workers the learning opportunities they crave. It also builds an internal talent pipeline, saving the company from having to find external candidates for senior positions.

When employees see a business investing in their career growth, it can boost productivity. Learning opportunities tend to increase job satisfaction, which leads to better outcomes. And the improved skill sets themselves contribute to more desirable business results.

The Benefits of Reskilling

Disparities in the skills roles demand and the knowledge employees have is creating internal problems. Staff members won’t be proficient enough to transition into roles businesses need to function. And finding skilled talent outside the organization will become more expensive than it is today.

Reskilling shows that leaders are thinking about the future. Once a role becomes irrelevant or redundant, it’s an unnecessary expense. Staff members who hear rumors of downsizing are more likely to jump ship. Those who stay may grow increasingly dissatisfied as their roles lose meaning, making it challenging for the business to remain competitive. When companies prepare employees for what’s coming, they can avoid layoffs, voluntary departures and loss of morale and productivity among employees who stay.

How to Develop New Skills 

From courses to new qualifications, taking charge of your own development is vital. As both upskilling and reskilling both take time and commitment, it’s important that you have the necessary motivation to seek out these new opportunities. 

Here are five ways for you to better your skillset, whether you’re looking to grow your career in your current company or branch out into something new.  

1. Become More IT Literate
Despite technology’s increasing prevalence in our lives, many of us are not as IT literate as we could be. Studies from PwC show that 40% of workers successfully improved their digital skills during the pandemic. With many of us having to work remotely, this was of course a necessity, but there is still always room for improvement.  

With the increasing reliance on technology in our society, growing your career in a more IT centered direction can help you to future proof the path you’re on, and create exciting and rewarding new career opportunities. 

2. Enhance Your Soft Skills
Soft skills are essential for self-improvement, and they’re something that you can work on in your own time, and often and minimal to no cost. They’re not technical skills that require a specific qualification, typically soft skills are the skills you pick up along the way over the course of your education and career. 

Being able to communicate effectively, work as part of a team, self-motivate, and manage your time are all valuable skills that are sought after in all workplaces. Including them on your CV is of course important, but you need to be able to demonstrate them in action, from the day of your interview and throughout your career to come.

There are tools out there to help you develop these skills, from apps that make planning your time easier, to self-help books that can teach you how to communicate well with others. Start dedicating some of your free time to these soft skills and you’ll see an improvement in your work and become a more attractive prospect for a business.

3. Advance Your Qualifications
If you feel like you’ve reached as far as you can go with your current level of education, then your next step in your upskilling and reskilling journey might be furthering your qualifications.

Returning to school or university isn’t easy for everyone, especially if you’ve already embarked on your career. However, with remote mastermind learning programs like AIM Insights, you can study on your own time with real executive mentors guiding you, allowing you to fit your education among your other responsibilities.

4. Attend Conferences, Seminars, and Workshops
Attending conferences is now easier than it ever has been before, with many of them now often having the option to attend online, limiting the amount of time that you need to take off work. It is also a great way to learn from the experience of experts in your field.

Similarly, there are numerous online resources that can provide you with valuable tools for your self-improvement, from YouTube videos, to LinkedIn Learning, where you can access a variety of business, creative, and technology oriented courses.    

5. Shadow Others in Your Company
Upskilling and reskilling are not only beneficial to you, but also to your employer. Having multiskilled employees can aid in a company’s growth and expand the type of work that your organization can take on. 

If you’re interested in learning another role within your industry, then speak to your employer about shadowing one of your colleagues. This way you can gain first-hand experience in other aspects of your field and help you take the next steps towards taking on more challenges at work and enhancing your performance. 

As the workforce transforms, so must the approach to leadership and learning, creating a path toward a future where innovation and adaptability are a priority.



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