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The importance of upskilling and reskilling in building a future-ready workforce

Talent Assessment | 8 Min Read

The importance of upskilling and reskilling in building a future-ready workforce


With a rapidly changing job landscape and accelerated pace of tech innovation and automation, HR managers or leaders have placed a high premium on upskilling and reskilling to understand the critical needs of the workforce. As a result, more than ever, employers are turning to hiring candidates with the adaptability and resilience to thrive in a continually evolving workplace environment.

According to the World Economic Forum’s research, 50% of all employees will need reskilling by 2025. Furthermore, according to the ManpowerGroup report, 77% of employers report difficulty filling roles. This data underpins the need for reskilling and upskilling to keep jobs from being redundant and prepare employees for future roles.

But how can organizations bridge these gaps efficiently and attune their workforce to evolving jobs and business needs?

The answer lies in a talent mobility strategy focusing on upskilling and reskilling employees.


What is upskilling and reskilling?

Upskilling enhances employees’ skills, enabling them to acquire new skills within their current job function to improve performance. Upskilling helps employees bridge the skills gaps through continuous professional development. It is crucial as it allows employees to stay abreast of emerging business trends and practices, thus helping organizations stay competitive in the market.

Reskilling, on the other hand, is the process of acquiring new skills required to perform a different job role. Reskilling ensures that employees stay engaged, motivated, and eager to develop new skills and obtain expertise that will benefit the individual as well as the organization.


The importance of upskilling and reskilling for organizational growth

Businesses should administer employee upskilling and reskilling programs to keep them aligned with the ongoing trends; also, employees are more likely to showcase their best work in a company that attends to their development needs.

The employee upskilling or reskilling process involves imparting new skills and increasing employee competency and efficiency. The more skilled the workforce is, the easier it is for an organization to achieve desired outcomes and stand competitive in the market.

Some crucial points stating upskilling and reskilling importance have been outlined below:


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1. Minimizes cost and saves time

Considering the efforts and investments involved, recruiting qualified applicants to fill vacant positions is arduous. However, by upskilling existing employees, an organization will engender loyalty and instill multitasking skills by broadening employees' horizons at work. As a result, minimizing money and time spent on hiring new employees.

2. Helps curtail turnover rates

According to LinkedIn’s 2023 Workplace Learning Report, 93% of organizations are concerned about employee retention. For most of them, providing learning opportunities remains the top way to improve retention. Upskilling carves a learning culture that inspires employees to associate with their organization for a long time, significantly contributing to higher employee retention rates.

3. Improves performance

Upskilling fosters skills improvement, enabling employees to explore the pathway to new skills and career progression. This empowerment leads the employees to grow in their current roles and helps the organization accommodate evolving business needs.

4. Helps develop self-awareness

Employee upskilling programs can help uncover strengths and limitations, which comes in handy in understanding new skills they should learn to improve their capabilities. In addition, such programs enable employees to track their development regularly.

5. Improves efficiency levels

Every organization aims to attain higher-than-usual productivity. Upskilling the workforce will help them anticipate the diverse needs of different clients and accordingly deliver solutions.

6. Provides growth avenues

A company that offers equal growth opportunities for employees is desired by everyone. A growth-centric environment that supports upskilling can foster employee satisfaction and boost productivity in the workplace. It also generates goodwill among the employees and helps the organization become an employer of choice for job seekers.


Upskilling vs. reskilling

While upskilling and reskilling are often interchangeable as they pertain to skills acquisition at large, they have subtle differences, as listed below: 

Upskilling Reskilling
It refers to teaching advanced skills to employees to maximize their efficiency in their current jobs. It refers to imparting new skills required for a new role.
It focuses on imparting learning in improving knowledge and performance in a current role so employees can adapt to evolving market conditions. It does not focus on refining existing skills but on equipping employees with new skills so they can transition to a different role within the organization or another company.
It aims to increase employees' value by skilling them to be future-ready. It aims to reskill those with an aptitude for such a transition.
It does not necessitate changing the career path of upskilled employees. It mandates the learning of new skills for a new career path.
It enables employees to improve their performance with their current responsibilities in their current role. It enables employees to adjust to significant changes in their new roles.


Best practices for upskilling and reskilling employees

1. Optimize learning programs

Most organizations already have several learning assets or programs in place. These assets must be reviewed to ensure they meet the organization’s existing and future skills requirements. While reviewing the learning programs, the concerned person should consider the following:

  • What more can be integrated into these programs to deliver an enriched learning experience?
  • Are programs available in variegated forms, such as online, self-training, peer-to-peer, micro-learning, etc.?
  • Are the learning programs aligned with the employee’s needs?

2. Work with the talent acquisition (TA) team

The success of any upskilling and reskilling strategy is determined by how well the HR teams are aligned with the TA department. They must analyze which candidates they are looking for and which skills are critical for new hires.

3. Leverage automation software solutions

The modern human resource and L&D processes are becoming much more streamlined with technology. These tools can help employers collect, store, and analyze valuable data to identify skills gaps and create a targeted plan for the right set of people.

The HR tech landscape is brimming with advanced software solutions to help organizations analyze skills gaps, conduct training needs assessments, and upskill and reskill their workforce.

4. Keep a feedback channel open

Employees undertaking an upskilling or reskilling program must be kept abreast of the latest developments with regular feedback on their progress. These standard feedback loops will help organizations find top performers and improve opportunities in the training and development programs early on. 

5. Introduce skill assessments in the process

Skill assessments help identify employees closest to the desired skill set. In addition, they enable organizations to understand skills gaps in their workforce. With these assessments, managers can assess the level of learning through upskilling or reskilling programs.


How Mercer| Mettl can help devise an up-to-date upskilling and reskilling strategy

Mercer | Mettl empowers organizations to execute an end-to-end upskilling and reskilling strategy in simple steps. Mercer | Mettl’s Skills Gap Analysis helps businesses understand the training requirements to identify the current skills gaps and skills required through structured assessments. This is done through robust and technologically advanced tools. The holistic assessment tools accurately and scientifically measure domain skills, coding skills, personality traits, cognitive ability and communication skills.

Some Mercer | Mettl tools that organizations can exclusively use for their upskilling and reskilling programs are:


1. Virtual Assessment and Development Centers (VADCs)  


Mercer | Mettl’s Virtual Assessment and Development Centers (VADCs) can help gauge an individual’s skills, fitment and developmental needs in a company. VADCs automate the process using digital tools, helping organizations find high-potential workers, plan strategic employee development, and analyze training needs.


2. 360-Degree Feedback Tool


Mercer | Mettl’s 360 Degree Feedback Tool differs from conventional assessment software as it uses a multi-rater approach. The tool collects ratings from multiple sources, like peers, managers, and clients. Apart from making the performance evaluation seamless, the 360-Degree Feedback Tool also helps:

  • Identify gaps in skills as perceived by other stakeholders
  • Identify high-potential (HiPo) employees
  • Get a holistic overview of an employee’s performance

3. Training Needs Analysis


Mercer | Mettl’s Training Needs Analysis enables organizations to identify their training and skills requirements. It also helps design an effective training program that meets the business’s needs. The tool works in three simple steps:

  • Identifying what to train
  • Spotting agile learners who can be quickly trained, and
  • Measuring the effectiveness of the training programs.



As the business landscape continues to change, organizations need to understand the importance of upskilling and reskilling programs. Such programs can help organizations thrive despite economic uncertainties and pivot with changing demands.



Why are reskilling and upskilling important in the working environment?

What are the benefits of upskilling and reskilling?

Originally published April 15 2022, Updated December 18 2023

Written by

Vaishali has been working as a content creator at Mercer | Mettl since 2022. Her deep understanding and hands-on experience in curating content for education and B2B companies help her find innovative solutions for key business content requirements. She uses her expertise, creative writing style, and industry knowledge to improve brand communications.

Upskilling and Reskilling

Importance of upskilling and reskilling

Whether you want to upskill or reskill employees, it is a go-to strategy for ensuring your people are prepared for the future.

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