Businessolver Blog

Back to School: The Need for Reskilling in Today’s Economy

Back to School: The Need for Reskilling in Today’s Economy
Posted on Monday, August 26, 2019 by Rae Shanahan

We hate to say it, but summer has officially started winding down.


Kids are making their back-to-school shopping lists and parents are hard at work planning for autumn’s busy schedules. But it’s not only family life that benefits from this preparation—today’s workforce has good reason to go “back-to-school,” too.

With changes in digital technology coming faster than ever, it’s vital that workplaces become adaptive. Organizations that once relied on print advertising and cold calling have had to quickly develop social media presences, robust websites, and on-demand customer service. But ultimately, it is individual employees who execute these new initiatives, and it’s the responsibility of employers to ensure their staffs are prepared to navigate the world of work as it continues to evolve.

In this ever-changing environment, employers have to consider their options to remain relevant and in-demand. What’s the best plan of attack? Promote younger “digital natives” into more senior positions, regardless of experience level? Limit the adaptation of new programs to maintain a sense of continuity? The savvy HR professional knows there’s an alternative: that’s where reskilling comes in.

What is reskilling?

Quite literally, reskilling is the process of replacing existing skill sets with new ones. In employment, it is the process of updating the capabilities of a workforce by educating them on new skills and providing support in shifting away from outdated operating procedures. For 82% of executives at companies with more than $100 million in annual revenues, reskilling is seen as at least half of the answer to addressing the skills gap

How can HR support reskilling?

  • Plan ahead. Every industry expands and contracts in its own unique ways. Researching what is on the horizon for your business is the first step to understanding what skills will be needed in the future. You may be surprised what you come across. New tech skills like cloud computing and artificial intelligence were merely buzzwords a few years ago, yet today, they are amongst the most sought-after competencies. We suggest staying engaged with your industry by using professional networks and industry publications to spot budding trends.
  • Offer resources. One reason reskilling is a compelling initiative is its flexibility and potential for scalability depending on your organization’s needs. An effective program can be as simple as regular lunch-and-learn sessions, or as complex as tuition support for additional schooling. Identifying the skills your employees will need is, again, crucial to determining the proper scale. What is non-negotiable, however, is flexibility. Employers who ask employees to learn new skills must ensure their policies support this, with offerings like flex time for study sessions or career counseling from HR that advises how new skills will transform their current position.
  • Approach with empathy. Often, reskilling can be seen as a negative development that becomes necessary only when it’s clear that a business is lacking a certain skillset. As an employee, it can be incredibly stressful to fear that your position will become irrelevant through no fault of your own. We encourage HR leaders to develop a positive framing toward reskilling that demonstrates empathy for this experience. Defining reskilling as a valuable professional development tool can help build employees’ excitement for new challenges on the horizon. Essentially, reskilling is the process of remaining engaged with the future of work.

What comes next?

Reskilling, in many ways, can demonstrate the remarkable capacity human beings have to learn new information and adapt to a changing world. Its impact on your workplace might mean that the day-to-day looks different than it once did—and that’s a good thing. Creating benchmarks and scheduling regular status checks with leadership can help ensure that your efforts stay on track and remain relevant. You may even begin highlighting your reskilling efforts in recruitment work. Potential employees will learn that your company values their personal and professional growth and will take steps to support them. It’s certainly a strong basis for building a career with an employer. Done effectively, a reskilling program means investing in employees and taking a hopeful look at the future.

Technology can help reskill employees as well as increase overall engagement. How? Join our upcoming webinar to find out.