Why You Should Think About Upskilling vs Training

No one could have predicted the impact COVID-19 has had on work as we know it. From the sudden shift to remote work to rapidly changing demand patterns, leaders were forced to quickly develop business strategies to accommodate new processes. While we do not yet fully understand the long-term implications of the pandemic, it is clear that businesses in every sector need to be able to quickly adapt to new market conditions.

The continuous onslaught of business disruptions has made it evident that organizations must have an on-demand talent development infrastructure that is agile and dynamic and can help them upskill employees.

Upskilling occurs when employees improve upon and deepen existing skills within their area of expertise as opposed to time-consuming, expensive, and often “one-size-fits-all” training. By expanding their skillset, employees become better positioned to take on new responsibilities and move into higher-level roles. Work may never be the same again, but organizations can accelerate their workforces’ ability to meet today’s fast-evolving business demands by developing an upskilling infrastructure.

What is Upskilling?

“The process of learning new skills or of teaching workers new skills,” is the upskilling definition listed in the Cambridge Dictionary. Similarly, the upskilling definition widely accepted by Human Resources (HR) professionals focuses on improving the skills of a workforce so that employees have the skillsets needed to thrive amidst a rapid technology evolution.

Stay Afloat During and Post-Pandemic

Many companies defaulted to layoffs to stabilize following the initial COVID-19 impact and resulting economic crisis. Although these companies are merely attempting to stay afloat, they are also underestimating the negative impacts this response will have on their brand and employee morale. Rather than severing trust with your most valuable asset, your human capital, you should develop a strategy that focuses on your employees and productivity.

To help your company move forward successfully, upskill your employees to prepare for and solve the challenges brought on by the economic downturn. As opposed to training, upskilling allows organizations to harness on-demand, just-in-time microlearning opportunities to support COVID-19 business recovery objectives.

Even before the pandemic, experts were acutely aware of the need for workers to learn new skills to keep pace with the rapid adoption of automation and machine learning. Research conducted by the McKinsey Global Institute indicates that 60% of U.S. jobs could become at least partially automated by technology. Upskilling programs allow workers to gain new skills and expand on existing capabilities to remain competitive. When executed properly, employers can leverage upskilling initiatives to accommodate the adoption of automation.

While many organizations have begun to prepare their workforce for the digital revolution, the pandemic is forcing employers to make a sharper pivot towards upskilling their workers than previously imagined. To upskill your employees, you need to invest in strategic systems that show workers the knowledge and skills they have and give them access to resources that will help them acquire the knowledge and skills they need.

Microlearning Embedded in the Workflow

Taking employees away from their working environment to attend a course or classroom training is time-consuming and often ineffective. Upskilling enables employees to learn new skills while on the job and immediately apply them. Rather than using training courses that teach predefined material in a set order, companies should use upskilling initiatives that focus on short, easy-to-digest content.

To effectively upskill your employees, it is essential to leverage skills assessments to determine the skills individuals lack as well as their proficiency levels. Using a skills testing platform like eSkill enables employers to personalize the content that is highly relevant to each employee based on current skills test results.

Skills testing enables employers to provide their workforce with targeted training modules and learning pathways that include learning in daily workflow. On-demand content that helps employees ‘figure out’ tasks presented to them facilitates individual growth and allows them to adapt to changing business needs more easily.

A Targeted Allocation of Resources

Organizations are swiftly leaving behind the era of training programs that are slow, expensive to implement, and often site-based and moving to learn platforms that provide self-directed resources such as online skill-based boot camps. Research proves that the options available to upskill your employees are more cost-effective.

The World Economic Forum found that it costs approximately $4,425 to hire a new employee. At the same time, the Association for Talent Development reported that the cost to upskill an existing employee is roughly $1,300. Choosing to upskill employees is a fiscally responsible alternative to recruiting, hiring, and training replacements.


To ensure your workforce remains competitive and agile, you need to continually evaluate employees’ skills and future skills you will need to ensure your business thrives. eSkill’s employment skills tests enable organizations to identify skills gaps and develop upskill initiatives so they can fill gaps quickly.

Interested in Skills Tests to Implement Targeted Upskilling Programs?

Learn more about the benefits of using eSkill’s employment assessment tests to upskill your employees quickly.

Request a demo today.


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Written by rudyard

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