A Practical Approach to Upskilling and Reskilling Your Workforce

May 12, 2021

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Has the pace of change in blockchain technology, artificial intelligence, and predictive analytics uncovered a critical need to upskill and reskill your workforce?  

Do your people lack the skills they need to meet the future of work?  

If so, you are probably facing intense pressure as a learning organization to meet the demands of the skills crisis at scale.   

It may seem like an overwhelming task. 

  • The pandemic-driven shift to on-site staff and remote employees may have made it more challenging to engage your people in learning.  
  • The shift in managing customer relationships poses a challenge in how to sustain trust using remote-only methods.
  • For many organizations, a fully digitized learning strategy is still yet to come because of the cost and efforts it involves.  

An effective upskilling and reskilling strategy can help you build a future-ready workforce that can adapt to drive value for customers.

What is the difference between Upskilling and Reskilling? 

Upskilling is learning new skills or enhancing existing skills to broaden a role or take on a new position in an adjacent discipline. 

Reskilling is preparation for a new type of work. 


When your sales teams operate in a virtual model, they need to know how to connect and interact with a visitor or a customer, present your products or services, and close deals online.    

Upskilling can give them the skills to master a virtual experience.  

 It can boost confidence, and virtualize persuasive skills. 

It can also provide them with cues to understand emotions to keep the conversation relevant to the customer. 


Some of your skilled people may need to let go of their jobs because of automation. If you do not want to lose them, help them adapt to other roles. 

Reskilling will help them with transitions like moving from manual tasks to managing software that runs the process. 

The Primary Drivers of Upskilling and Reskilling 

Upskilling and reskilling people for the future of work indicates a thriving organization. 

Many forces drive reskilling and upskilling, but two are almost universal: business complexity and digital transformation. 

Growing Complexity in Business

Today, many organizations operate through an ecosystem of internal teams, partners, freelancers, and a dynamic supply chain. 

According to TMF Group’s Global Business Complexity Index, day-to-day operations require businesses to navigate high levels of complexity to: 

  • avoid regulatory penalties and mitigate risk, 
  • comply with changing accounting and tax policies, and
  • source and manage scarce talent.  

As 2030 approaches, demand for technology skills will spike by as much as 60%.  

New technology like AI, blockchain, IoT, automation add to growing complexity.   

It demands that HR and L&D teams map the skill gaps and equip people with digital and social skills to navigate alternative career paths.  

McKinsey predicts organizations will face a 24% rise in the need for social and emotional skills.  

They will also see an 8% increase in the demand for higher cognitive skills. 

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Digital Transformation

Businesses are exploring and implementing new digital strategies to sustain them through uncertainty and rapid change. 

Gartner predicted that IT spending would hit $3.9 trillion this year as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to act as a catalyst for transformation in just about every major industry. 

Research from Business Standard shows that priority tech spending areas for 2021 will be: 

  • Augmented reality, virtual reality (AR/VR), and mixed reality 
  • Internet of Things (IoT) 
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) 
  • Robotics 
  • Cloud technology deployments 

In a global research study from IFS, the pandemic’s disruption has failed to reduce digital plans, with 52 percent of companies stating they will increase spending on digital transformation. 

Alongside digital transformation is the endless growth of vast amounts of data, which creates a critical need to manage and optimize it to streamline operations, refine processes and improve performance. 

These changes require rapid digitalization, and an urgency to rely on data forces organizations to be future-focused.   

Analyzing the future needs of your organization and developing agile upskilling and reskilling strategies can break down the disconnect between people and technology.  

How to Build an Engaging Upskilling and Reskilling Strategy 

A well-planned strategy can translate your vision into action. Here are some ways you can craft an effective strategy: 

  1. Review your company’s vision to understand where your organization is today, where it wants to go, and what you need to do to accomplish the vision.  
  2. Analyze your audience. Research past data to understand their behavior so you can align the strategy to their preferences.  
  3. Conduct a skills gap analysis. Learn what your people already know and what they need to perform in the near future. Review the critical skills your business requires. Then list the skill gaps you need to address.  
  4. Review skill gaps to establish goals 
  5. Work with subject matter experts to build curricula for each group in your target audience. 
  6. Select learning strategies.
    • Mobile learning can help if your audience mostly travels or are deskless workers.  
    • Micro learning can fit into the availability of your busy staff.  
    • Simulations can help if your people must learn to use machine or devices or respond to emergencies. 
  7. Plan rewards. Ensure you set up consistent rewards to elevate your peoples’ interests and
    bring them back for more.
  8. Have a marketing plan. Draft promotional messages that show how the program
    can expand your people’s skills and, take them to the next level of their career. 

How Upskilling and Reskilling Drives Value 

Development opportunities lead to employee happiness and satisfaction. Your people know you value them when you help them with their career progress. 

Motivates Learning and Performance  

Training your employees on the skills and technologies that are most relevant today can motivate them. It can: 

  • boost their confidence to take up new projects,  
  • equip them with the skills to meet the changing demands of business, and 
  • build a robust and agile workforce that can win and sustain through challenges. 

Boosts Employee Morale 

Willingness, confidence, and enthusiasm result from a workplace with high morale. 

Upskilling and reskilling your people can increase morale. It can also: 

  • Create a sense of responsibility and belonging.
  • Establish a culture of willingness to go an extra mile in performance. 
  • Build healthy relationships grounded on trust and optimism.

Develops Future Leaders 

Follow-up assessments will help you discover the most passionate learners. 

Proactive people don’t just learn—they apply their new skills and coach their peers. 

During the process, you can identify the go-getters or enthusiasts who can lead teams. 

I’ll bet most of the companies that are in life-or-death battles got into that kind of trouble
because they didn’t pay enough attention to developing their leaders.
                                                                                                                    — Wayne Calloway 

Creates A Consistent Learning Culture 

Reskilling can help you create a strong learning culture. 

That culture will build a resilient organization. Such a culture can help you 

  • create a competent and confident workforce, 
  • rely on your internal staff when you need people with specific skills, and 
  • bring down your costs as developing your teams is much affordable than hiring new employees. 

Consistent learning does not just enhance your people’s potential but leads your business towards growth and success. 

You must continually increase your learning, the way you think, and the way you approach
the organization.
                                                                                                                  — Indra Nooyi 

Retains your people 

According to a Gallup report, 87% of millennials rate “professional or career growth and development opportunities” as important to them in a job.  

Your people stay committed when you give them a chance to grow. You can help them expand their career options. As you engage them with career programs, they own responsibility, take risks, and promote your brand.

Build a Resilient Organization  

Learning organizations need to build agile strategies that boost skills. 

Upskilling and reskilling can help your people adapt to changing business needs. As a result, they become more loyal and engaged. 

In no time, your people become competent to perform amidst disruptions and confident to stand and succeed during the future uncertainties.  

An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage. 
                                                                                                                           — Jack Welch. 

Pixentia is a full-service technology company dedicated to helping clients solve business problems, improve the capability of their people, and achieve better results.


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