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/ Upskilling and Reskilling and its importance in Talent Management

Upskilling and Reskilling and its importance in Talent Management

IN: Human Resources.31 MARCH, 2022
Upskilling and Reskilling and its importance in Talent Management

We live in an era where every second something new and innovative appears in some part of the world! In this increasingly global society where, with just a quick touch of a computer, we can access thousands of people with the ability to offer similar or even the same products or services, the real differentiating element for a successful company lies in a single element – people's talent and creativity .

In this context of profound business transformation, most of which is driven by technology and digitalization, arises the need for employers to assess the extent to which their Employees have the necessary skills to successfully respond to new organizational challenges.  

As a result of this increased need, Upskilling, that is, the development of existing skills, and Reskilling, that is, the development of new skills, assume a fundamental role in the business cycle of talent management and development.


What is Talent Management and Development?

Talent Management is an expression used by Human Resources specialists in companies to describe a set of processes involving the acquisition of new talent and the identification, development and “engagement” of existing talent in Organizations. 

The CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personal and Development) defines talent management as the “systemic attraction, identification, development, engagement, retention and deployment of individuals who are of particular value to the organization, whether in view of their potential for future or because they are fulfilling critical functions for the business/operation”.

This process follows the employee life cycle comprising the following steps:


Why is Upskilling and Reskilling increasingly necessary in companies?

Talent development becomes important when we consider all the changes that occur from the first moment of your professional life – from new techniques or even new discoveries that make previously used strategies impossible, to constantly changing work programs. And, as such, the skills that people learn early in their careers, or in their educational processes, may not necessarily be those they will need in the near future.

According to the 2018 report “The Future of Jobs” (World Economic Forum), business leaders are increasingly being asked - from all industries - to build work teams capable of meeting the challenges of a focused era. in constant change and innovation. As such, companies looking to improve their workforces focus on Upskilling or Reskilling programs. For example, in 2019, Amazon announced that it intended to spend $700 million on upskilling and reskilling programs for 100,000 of its US employees by 2025. 

Upskilling moves like the ones in this example not only contribute to building a more capable workforce, but also increase morale and engagement, encouraging employees to stay with the company. In the words of Carol Patton ( Human Resource Executive) “Reskilling or Upskilling employees is not just another trend, but a survival strategy that feeds or sustains the growth of a company”.

However, many companies are not investing in this area. According to Siddhartha Gupta, CEO of Mercer Mettl, identifying relevant Competency Gaps, lack of time to train Employees, and budgeting for sufficient funds to implement learning and development programs are some of the reasons that prevent companies from investing in Reskilling and Upskilling programs.


Upskilling and Reskilling – What's the difference?

According to McKinsey, organizations seek to find solutions to these needs by applying three different levels of talent management:

  1. Redeployment (Internal Mobility) – Occurs when a role will be terminated and it is necessary for the Employees to occupy another role for which they will not, from the outset, have the necessary skills.
    1. For example: A group of collaborators was involved in a long-term project that ended in the meantime. Instead of laying off these employees, the company will be able to train them and transfer them to other functions. Or, the company will expand and open a new workplace and wants to relocate employees to different roles that it would otherwise have difficulty recruiting.
  2. Reskilling – When a person needs to develop a set of skills different from their usual ability, in order to be able to perform a different role or a higher level of responsibility.
    1. For example: New tasks or new processes that require a new set of skills were implemented, and to help employees achieve high performance, a Reskilling program was created. Or a process that used to be manual is now being executed by a computer platform. A Reskilling program can be carried out for employees to learn how to work on the platform and become familiar with the new procedures.
  3. Upskilling – When a person develops a skill or skill set with a higher level of competence in order to achieve better performance in their current role.
    1. For example: One of the best employees gets a promotion and needs to prepare for new obstacles that may arise. The employee already has the basic talents needed to take on the new responsibilities of the role, but Upskilling can be used here to prepare the Employee for change.

These strategies can be used together, or separately, according to what the organization and the employee need for the success of the enterprise.


The benefits of reskilling and upskilling

There are several specific benefits associated with each of these strategies:

1. Reduction of Recruitment Costs

Recruiting, interviewing, evaluating and hiring new employees is expensive and time-consuming. And even with a solid hiring process, there is always the chance that the hiring will not work due to issues related to the adaptation of the Employee to the organizational culture. By looking for talent in the group of employees who already work for the Organization, costs are avoided and the process of hiring and integrating a new person is shortened. According to Gallup, the cost of replacing an employee can range from half to twice that employee's annual salary.

2. Attracting new Talents

A company that helps employees develop new skills has an edge when it comes to recruiting. Candidates who want to feel valued at work look for employers with a culture of professional growth that includes Reskilling and Upskilling opportunities. A LinkedIn study showed that most people of the new generations (Millennials and Gen Z) are willing to leave their current jobs for lack of commitment to their training and development.

3. Talent Retention

By investing in the outstanding talents that the company already has, a space is created where employees develop new skills and a culture of innovation and proactivity.

A great example of this ability to be proactive is in the life story of Dorothy Vaughan (illustrated in the movie “Hidden Figures”). She was responsible for a group of women who worked as "human computers" in the US space program in the 1950s. When Dorothy discovered that NASA had bought a new IBM computer that would have the ability to replace her team, she decided to learn the IBM programming language alone and taught it to his team. By performing this Reskilling process, she saved her job and those of her team. And by investing in her abilities, Dorothy also ended up becoming an expert programmer, working at NASA until she retired.


Build a Reskilling and Upskilling program

The first step in any Reskilling or Upskilling effort is to define the base strategy and enumerate the competencies needed for that strategy. For example, if the strategy is to digitize processes, what skills do Employees need to have?

After defining the strategy's base points and the necessary competencies, it is necessary to create and develop a learning culture in the Organization, presenting systems accessible to all Employees. To this end, a training plan must be defined that follows the strategy and operationalized according to the specific needs of each training group. We suggest 4 processes for the operationalization of the training plan:

1. Develop a Competency Development Platform

Whether you use an online system or not, by creating a learning platform you can help the team identify the gaps they feel and set learning goals. In addition, Employees track learning progress, quickly identifying where they need to invest more. This control will help you save time and money by avoiding the lengthening of unnecessary themes.

2. Seek training in specific skills

In some situations it may be necessary to seek outside help for programs with more specific themes. For example, in an Organization in the healthcare sector, the platform is likely to be full of clinical skills and medical certifications. But, if a nurse wants to learn data analysis to help her manage her unit, it will be necessary to look for resources outside the current training plan, in order to support this collaborator in her innovative initiative.  

3. Encourage follow-up.

Accompaniment at work is often defined in terms of helping interns or a new employee at the company. But that's just a fraction of what Tracking is. According to Insperity, there are at least two processes in which monitoring your team's employees can help the Reskilling and Upskilling processes:

  1. An employee of a work team can accompany another team to learn how they do their work. That employee will then share their learnings with their current team to help build the skills and knowledge base of the entire group.
  2. A collaborator who wants to transition to a new role can accompany a colleague who currently has that role.

4. Help employees to improve their knowledge.

Sometimes employees already have the knowledge and skills they need to transition into a new role. A process of updating knowledge or specialization may simply be necessary.



The proper management of the talent, with special emphasis on Upskilling and Reskilling, can be the barrier between the success or not of the organization. These processes are an integral part of professional life and need to be worked on for the organic development of your teams, for adapting to a constantly changing world, for greater involvement in the organizational culture of all those involved and for the retention of top talent. 



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Inês Cabral | Project Manager


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