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When upskilling fails

There is a beautiful saying in today’s fast paced world – “You have to keep running to be at the same place.” With technology changing at a pace that is hard to keep up, employees have to, well, keep up. There are new tools popping up in the online marketplace faster that popcorns pop in a popper.

These fast changes create skill gaps that companies need to plug. Upskilling structures exist in businesses to boost employee morale and upskill them to meet competitor challenges head on. But many a time upskilling initiatives fail to hit its intended mark, and fortunately these can be avoided.

Upskilling is imperative in today’s world and businesses need to invest time and money to get it done with success. Employees must also understand that upskilling simply enhances their employability in any business. But first, the HR needs to analyze and draft guidelines on upskilling and it should align with the needs and resources. If this step is amiss in the policy, then the whole initiative can go kaput. The skill gap must first be understood to be plugged later. Having a policy is helpful in analyzing the metrics for success; the start and end results will be known. Without a reference policy, upskilling is bound to fail.

Upskilling ideas and underlying policies might be good, but implementing it in a haphazard way is a recipe for failure. Upskilling must enrich the employee’s learning experience. The upskilling plan must be tailor made for employees. For instance, if someone is taught skills that they have no interest in or use of, then the interest level during a workshop or session will be less. Workshops should be arranged such that it entices talent to learn and develop their skillset, so that they progress in their career and within the organization. For this to happen, the training sessions or workshops must be interesting, engaging / interactive and personalized. Employee feedback should be taken seriously and they should be asked about their interests and skills which they want to learn. Doing so boosts employee motivation to stay within an organization and grow. Creating content and training that is of no practical use to individual employees will lead to a failed upskill initiative.

Now a good policy and an even better implementation will do no good if the employee cannot execute the newly learned skills. Most employees will upskill and then move out of the organization. This will be detrimental to the objective of upskilling. Creating internal projects is one way businesses help employees practice their newly acquired skills. Internal projects are a good way to gauge employee strengths. Internal job transitions will keep them motivated, without a need to leave the organization in search of greener pastures. The trick is to create a green pasture within the organization. Upskilling fails when the upskilled talent has no place to execute the newly acquired talent.

Upskilling done for namesake is sure to be a failure. Every step needs to be thoroughly planned, executed and promoted, because upskilling not only boosts employee morale, but helps the business innovate and outperform its competitors.

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