The idea of upskilling is not new. Training and development has long been a mainstay of HR and talent management. The difference today is that many companies are beginning to feel an acute shortage of technical skills, which puts them in competition for workers from both inside and outside their industries. Randstad can help with your recruitment of these employees, but re-thinking what is possible for your existing staff is another avenue to investigate.
Simply offering learning and development (L&D) opportunities is not enough. According to one report from the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp), while 76 percent of organizations provide dedicated resources like IT support, budget and staff devoted to the development of frontline workers, most do not provide reinforcement mechanisms to ensure the utilization of the programs. This often stems from productivity concerns related to pulling frontline workers away from the job and is hindered by the real or perceived lack of defined career paths for these staff members. Considering the need to make upskilling part of your workforce strategy, it is important to bring the conversation to a strategic level. Fortunately, the basics of upskilling are not out of reach.
Here are six questions that can help you start positioning your skills development culture to compete in an innovative economy.
1. Where are you striving to compete in your industry today? Understanding the key areas of business challenges is important for setting the direction of your development efforts.
2. Where are your future talent and skills needs? Are you working to raise the level of advanced manufacturing skills? Think about general skills and traits like comfort with technology, problem solving, critical thinking and versatility, in addition to specialized skills required for your particular business or worksite.
3. How well equipped is your training program to address specific skills needs? Often, training programs are a passive function, offering a place to learn and develop, but only for those who are self-motivated and available.
4. How accessible is training? Are you making training available online? Is there flexibility to fit it into the current schedule of your employees? Determine what it would it take to remove the “I have no time” excuse (often justified), which may be preventing your most valuable employees from improving their skills.
culture and communication
5. Is management supportive of skills development? Learning new skills requires an investment of time from workers — time that could otherwise be spent on current work duties. That means much of the responsibility for success is in the hands of managers, who must allow workers to take the time to develop.
6. How will you communicate the effort? Don’t let your upskilling resources gather dust. Promoting L&D opportunities that are available is essential.
As many successful organizations have found, simply offering training may not be enough to stay ahead of evolving skills and technology demands. Ask the questions, have the conversations and make upskilling a priority. It’s an opportunity that can yield great results — today and in the future.