Upskilling — Internal Acquisition of High-Skilled Talent

By Scott Johnson

27 February 2023

Companies have invested heavily in modernizing their workspaces to be dynamic and adaptable. It’s time to bring that same approach to securing skilled labor, by implementing strategies like upskilling to close skill gaps with retained and vetted talent.

Talent acquisition strategies are some of the most efficient and dependable ways to secure high-skilled employees in today’s labor market. These training options are also incredible tools for building team longevity, creating a positive workplace culture, and instilling a commitment to excellence. 

Thanks to e-learning platforms, upskilling and on-job development, in general, are now widely accessible for businesses of all sizes, including those which depend heavily on remote work.

What is Upskilling?

Upskilling is a style of skill training that leverages and develops internal talent instead of outside hiring or recruiting. Simply put, upskilling is investing in skill training for current employees.

Some examples of upskilling include training employees on more advanced programming techniques to take advantage of emerging technology. Leadership and management training are opportunities for organizations to take aspiring talent and equip them with the practical insights of team building.

Is Upskilling a Good Approach to Close Skill Gaps?

Yes. Despite the costs involved, training and upskilling should be seen as long-term investments, not expenses. These investments produce reliable returns and are essential for your workforce to avoid becoming obsolete and walled in by limited capabilities.

Companies that reinvest revenues for internal training and innovation are typically the companies with more success. A study by The Association for Talent Development (ATD, formerly ASTD) shows that companies that invest in employee development can see 218% higher income per employee and 24% higher profit margins. Because training is in place, these organizations are capable of reinventing themselves to adapt to the reality around them and become more efficient.

Why is Upskilling Better than Hiring & Recruitment?

According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report, as tech rapidly develops, more than 50% of all employees worldwide will need skill gap training. Upskilling represents a substantial shift in traditional workplace practices and provides a sustainable skill pipeline to ensure teams are outfitted with desired capabilities and are continually keeping up with emerging tech.

Forward-thinking companies such as Amazon, Google, and Salesforce have recognized the key advantages of upskilling and on-job learning over external talent searches and have invested in e-learning initiatives.

Reasons this type of talent acquisition is replacing other models include:

  • Lower costs
  • New hires are unpredictable
  • More competitive workforce recruitment
  • Companies can build personalized skillsets

Streamline Costs

It’s a well-known mantra in business: it’s usually more efficient to retain than recruit. And that is a huge part of the economic advantages of upskilling. Upskilling provides an avenue for companies to waste less on job searches and high-skilled salary overhead, and instead invest more effectively by developing vetted talent on hand.

A strong upskilling strategy will also drive down attrition. Employees who see opportunities to grow and pathways to advance in a company are happier and more committed.

More Predictability

Upskilling can mitigate many of the risks companies are exposed to through onboarding new talent. One way to say this is when you’re investing in upskilling, you know who and what you’re getting into.

It is an easy decision to invest in employees who’ve demonstrated initiative and team loyalty. When companies develop inwardly, they can rely on and pull from first-hand knowledge of how employees fit into the ethos and workflow of the company.

Competitive Recruitment

Having a robust upskilling strategy in place can help lower baseline skill requirements for your workplace or job positions. This can make your talent pipeline more competitive by reaching the best talent earlier and providing them with on-job advancement. Upskilling also allows companies to outfit their teams with specific skillsets.

Building Strong Teams

Upskilling can help drive down any revolving doors in your workforce. Providing pathways for advancement and development can help define long-term goals for employees and ultimately extend the tenure of talent within your company. Not only does this reinforce key intangibles, such as loyalty and culture, it makes a powerful statement with potential clients about your company’s stability.

How is Upskilling Done?

Like everything, upskilling has various facets and methods for how it can be done. For example, upskilling can mean attending a specialized conference or workshop, attending an in-person class for language training, or having internal trainers provide on-job guidance and instruction.

One way upskilling is becoming more achievable and successful for businesses is through e-learning, which enables companies to design and harness upskilling training through online and app-based learning management systems.

Advantages of e-learning v. in-person upskilling?

Traditional instruction has typically been viewed as the best method to achieve high training outcomes due to the benefits of an in-person instructor who can recognize and personalize progress. However, the use of AI and machine learning algorithms have greatly improved e-learning by supporting greater ease of access, gamification, user experience, and automated course adjustments. E-learning has never been more of a viable solution, and this includes the realm of upskilling.

Elearning provides numerous benefits, such as

Support for Remote-Based Teams — Decentralized workforce models are currently trending upward, making in-person learning difficult and e-learning a necessity to implement an upskilling strategy. The rise in remote work is due in part to advancements in software capability and was accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Work-from-home options have also become an expectation for many job searchers and many employers are already offering online skills training as a perk.

Time-savings — Using an online-based learning management system removes travel or location requirements for workers. This translates into saved time from commuting. Training and courses can be scheduled into any team member’s calendar and adapted to their workweek and pace. For team members who excel, this gives opportunities to clear courses faster so they can begin putting new skills to use.

Improved proficiency — E-learning can help retention for regressive skills and help avoid high-expense and rigorous retraining.  A recent study by Techinnov showed that daily 10-minute sessions of e-learning tools like mini-modules and games helped more than half of participants become 100% more efficient in second-language skill retention.

Building A Strategic Learning Management System for Upskilling

A learning management system can help companies efficiently reach skill goals, especially when these courses are thoroughly mapped and planned. Let’s review proven steps trusted by Techinnov for creating a high-performing upskilling learning plan.

Step 1: Establishing KPIs

What is your training looking to achieve? Understanding and identifying what skill key performance indicators (KPIs) you will be tracking is necessary before forming an upskilling strategy. Once there is something to measure and track, everything else tends to fall into place more naturally.

KPIs, such as activity pass/fail rates, completion rate, average test score, and job role competency, will help you gauge where your workforce is right now to form a baseline and help you measure course success.

Step 2: Design a Learning Model

Who is using the e-learning platform? How will the course be designed? These questions should be answered through a process we at Techinnov call “whiteboarding.”

In this process, a learning platform’s infrastructure is mapped out and engineered, so to speak. The target audience is identified, and best practices are chosen to accommodate them. For example, whether or not workers have dedicated time for training during a work week may change how instruction is done, whether it be one-on-one, self-directed, or with gamification.

Step 3: Building 

One of the most important steps in designing an upskilling strategy is building a way to track the KPIs you’ve identified and manage the learning process. This looks like clarifying who in an organization is responsible for learning management and providing them with a robust dashboard and analytic tools. 

Step 4: Pilot Project

Incrementally user-testing the learning platform is the final step in the process. Feedback during this step will identify user experience issues as well as highlight areas in the system where there are opportunities for improvement.

How Techinnov Can Help with Upskilling

Upskilling is a highly proficient strategy for talent acquisition in the modern labor market, and e-learning has made this strategy accessible to companies of all sizes and orientations.

Partnering with Techinnov for your organization’s long-term learning and training solutions will help streamline operational practices and simplify learning through web and app-based platforms. Techinnov’s integrated e-learning approach offers engaging solutions that strengthen your business infrastructure.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is upskilling?

Upskilling is a style of skill training that leverages and develops internal talent instead of outside hiring or recruiting. Simply put, upskilling is investing in skill training for current employees.

Can upskilling be done remotely?

Yes. The development of online tools and e-learning platforms have made remote upskilling very possible. Methods like automated course adjustments and gamification have also made upskilling through e-learning very efficient.

What are the advantages of e-learning?

Typically e-learning supports dynamic and remote teams. E-learning also provides lower costs, time efficiency, enhanced management tools, analytic insights, and improved performance.


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