In translation into Portuguese, reskilling is requalification, something that consists of acquiring new skills, with the most common objective being to change the area of professional activity.
What is more strategic: hiring a new professional who will have to adapt to the company’s culture and processes or training an employee to occupy a new position in the company?
Both options may be valid, but if the interest is to get the best out of the workforce, keeping those who are competent and identify with the company, reskilling may be the best choice .
You still don’t know what reskilling means? Go ahead with reading this post, learn about the concept and understand what its benefits are!
what is reskilling
Maybe you already know what skill means skill. Thus, reskilling can be understood as a new process of gaining knowledge and, in the Portuguese translation, the term can mean retraining or requalification.
With this, we can say that reskilling is a management concept whose premise is to direct professionals to the achievement of new skills .
In this way, they become able to occupy new positions within the organization in which they are already inserted.
It is a strategy that should be adopted when the company realizes that it has qualified human capital, but that it needs to train one or more of its employees to carry out activities different from those they performed until then.
As a result, reskilling is interesting for both the company and the professionals and can even be seen as a way of valuing talent .
Something that, in turn, tends to contribute to the vision that employees have of the organization, that is, for the employer brand .
Reskilling vs. upskilling
If you’ve come to this post with any idea what reskilling means , you’ve probably come across the term before.
And if that did indeed happen, it is even more likely that you have also encountered upskilling .
The idea behind the two management concepts is similar, because the common essence of both is learning . However, there are differences.
While reskilling focuses on a change of area , upskilling works more as a process of improvement so that a professional remains in his/her area of expertise, but better able to perform his/her duties.
Reskilling and digital transformation
If you research what reskilling is, you may end up finding explanations that the concept has to do with an adaptation of the professional to the digital universe.
Although the need to learn new skills may be closely related to the emergence of new technologies, it is important to understand all this better.
Reskilling is something that is really related to learning skills that are not related to the current role of the professional .
Could technology be involved? You can, but this is not a rule and it is more appropriate to relate the act of learning to deal with software, for example, with upskilling .
With that, reskilling can be something more radical, so to speak. Let’s look at an example so you can understand better.
Let’s assume that Marcos is a technology enthusiast and works in the Customer Service of an IT and Innovation company. Its function is to ask questions about the use of software and even correct some errors remotely.
Over time, based on conversations and other forms of observation and evaluation, management and the Human Resources (HR) sector realize that Marcos has the potential to do more.
The professional is so involved and dedicated that he could succeed in developing solutions for the company if he knew about Robotics.
This, therefore, is a case of reskilling in which Marcos will need to learn different skills to change areas, even though he remains within the technology segment. Before, technician and customer service and, later, robot developer.
Skills developed by reskilling
With Marcos’ example, we show that reskilling can be geared towards learning technical skills .
In this regard, it is important to make it clear that we are talking about something that goes beyond “digital fluency”.
In other words, the main objective is not to make a professional learn to use software that will automate part of the activities that are already part of their routine.
Requalification is usually directed towards the objective of changing areas of activity, and not simply adapting to changes.
For this reason, technical learning can be significant, even if it is not the only one.
The conversation about digital transformation tends to make us think about the future and, with that, we take the opportunity to ask: do you know what skills are expected of the “ professional of the future ”?
It is not today that this topic has been debated and, although different points are addressed, they usually follow the same line.
See the example of 10 skills highlighted by the United Nations (UN):
- Cognitive flexibility;
- Orientation to serve;
- Judgment and decision making;
- Emotional intelligence;
- Coordination with others;
- People management;
- Critical thinking;
- Solving complex problems.
Did you notice that there is a focus on soft skills ? With this, it is interesting that a learning process aimed at individual and team professional development also provides behavioral skills.
That said, it is even easier to understand that reskilling can contribute — among other things that we will see below — to the identification and formation of leaders within the company.
The company really needs to get involved in reskilling
Further on, we will talk about the importance of reskilling and, with that, it will be easier to understand why this should also be an effort of the company and not just of its employees, individually. First, an important reflection.
Professionals can, on their own, identify the need to update, improve or even change careers.
With this, they can be proactive and seek, without any help from employers, courses, lectures and other means that allow them to achieve these goals.
In a way, this autonomy is well regarded because companies like to have in their staff professionals who understand the importance of investing in their own evolution, right?
A report by the World Economic Forum indicates that, by 2022, at least 54% of professionals will demand some type of reskilling or upskilling.
The percentage is significant. As a result, it may be unstrategic to leave the relearning and retraining process solely in the hands of employees.
In fact, when the company gets involved, it has a better chance of directing employees to seek skills that, yes, are in their personal interest, but that also correspond to the needs that the organization has.
Next, you will better understand how this involvement can result in attracting and retaining talent , increasing engagement and achieving better results.
The importance of reskilling
The importance and benefits that reskilling can bring to companies and their employees can be understood from different points. Let’s go to them!
Adaptation to work changes
To talk about the changes in the world of work, let’s continue the conversation about digital transformation and robots.
How many times have you read or heard around here that robots are going to take people’s jobs? If you’ve lost count, we understand, because this is an issue that turns and moves, gains prominence and even scares some people.
After all, no one wants to be replaced by a machine and be left with nowhere to make a living.
We won’t go into the details of this debate, but we want to point out that the expectation is not that robots will wipe out jobs one by one.
Machines already perform several functions by themselves and this number only tends to increase. This requires professionals to develop themselves to fulfill roles that only human beings can do.
Thus, many processes can be changed due to digital transformation . Activities can be extinguished, while others will be created.
In parallel to all this, reskilling ― as well as upskilling ― appears as a tool for professional development , in order to make employees maintain their relevance and become capable of meeting new demands.
Cost reduction and talent retention
How many strategies does your company adopt to attract and retain talent? This concern is quite common and valid.
Therefore, know that we have no intention of making you give up the initiatives that are adopted.
The point is that attracting and retaining talent , especially those who are ready to meet the new demands that arise with digital transformation, can be expensive.
This makes it interesting for the company to look inside and assess the costs of training or retraining its employees to save resources and benefit in other ways as well.
To give you an idea, Amazon has adopted technology that has made its inventory professionals less necessary.
Faced with this change, the giant decided that a third of the employees would undergo reskilling instead of firing them.
Opting for reskilling can be more cost-effective because the company needs to consider the costs of firing employees in addition to the costs of recruiting, selecting and training newcomers.
Adaptation to changes in professionals
Also, as we mentioned, investing in employees can help attract and retain talent .
As a management methodology, reskilling can be a strategy to make the most qualified professionals want to remain in the company’s staff.
In this regard, it is worth bearing in mind that millennials , also known as Generation Y, tend to “jump” from one job to another, but there is research that indicates that these professionals also know how to value opportunities to develop in their jobs.
Today, millennials are between 25 and 40 years old, and this makes it clear why betting on strategies such as reskilling (and upskilling) can be important to count on your services for longer.
To understand the differences between Generation Y and the older generation, check out the infographic below:
In addition to them, the market also turns its attention to generation Z, which today has people aged between 10 and 25 years old.
Part of it is already prepared and another part is already occupying spaces in the world of work, being formed by professionals who also appreciate continuous learning.
Thus, investing in reskilling and embracing this culture that accompanies generations Y and Z is essential for companies that really want to attract and retain top talent in the market.
Promoting engagement and reducing turnover
Basically, what we are saying is that professionals, in general, tend to embrace growth opportunities, and there are even those who especially like to learn more and more.
It is true that there are professionals with enough autonomy, here we talk about mentality and even financial planning, to pursue new skills and even a career change on their own.
But it is when the company participates that it gains most of the benefits that reskilling can provide.
With that in mind, when the company bets on reskilling , it conveys the idea that it values its human capital and proves it .
Employees who feel valued enough to realize that the company invests in them, in their learning, tend to be more engaged.
Also, greater engagement or identification with the company contributes to the reduction of turnover , which, when high, causes financial loss, image deterioration and a drop in the organization’s results.
Another point is that when reskilling directs a professional to a new career, he can finally feel fulfilled and motivated.
Something that also contributes to improving employee engagement and even teams that benefit from or participate in the change.
Improved company performance
With all this, it is natural to infer that reskilling contributes to improving the performance of teams and the company as a whole.
The redirection of careers provided by requalification allows the company to fill gaps with professionals who are already aligned with its values, mission and vision .
With this, the company gains by having an employee who has acquired new and important skills.
And it wins once again by preventing someone with valid skills even before reskilling from ending up in the competition.
Promotion of professional growth
With what you’ve just read, you can already identify points that make reskilling an interesting reality for professionals too, right? Therefore, we will highlight just a few other points.
There are different profiles of professionals who, regardless of age group, will welcome the opportunity to learn new skills and migrate to another area.
Some, even, may not even be clear that they are just waiting for this opportunity and for a “push” from HR and their leaders to get them motivated again with their careers.
Thus, reskilling can be important for employees to find new and more promising directions for their professional lives.
There are those who, on their own, identify this opportunity, but do not have any kind of support from their employers and, therefore, end up looking for opportunities elsewhere.
And then there are those who realize that something is wrong, but rely on an outside view to understand that trying something new can be the best decision.
In any case, reskilling tends to open doors for employees to re-engage with their activities, recover their productivity and feel more motivated to excel in their daily work.
Reskilling and accountability
Before talking about how a company can apply reskilling , let’s go through a relationship that is commonly presented: the one between reskilling and accountability .
In case you don’t already know, the term accountability can be translated as an accountability that has a relevant meaning in the context of people management.
We are talking about creating a sense of self-responsibility that favors trust in the relationships between the company and its employees and that encourages professionals to seek professional evolution.
This is because accountability makes employees more aware of their actions and tasks.
It is a change in mindset that helps everyone to be more involved in adopting a more ethical posture and being voluntarily responsible.
Furthermore, accountability contributes to making it easier to identify which employees are engaged and aligned with the company’s culture and which are not .
Thus, it is easier to balance expectations and even identify needs for changes, whether through reskilling or not.
What can still be said is that acquiring new knowledge to change the area of professional activity is not necessarily a simple idea.
There are group dynamics and other tools that can be used by HR so that skills are identified in order to point out who could build a new career.
In parallel to this, self-responsibility linked to accountability is an ally for the professional to identify and express the possibility of change.
How to adopt reskilling
In order for reskilling to work or at least make sense, it is essential to create, if it does not yet exist, a learning culture within the company.
Learning new skills, especially with a focus on changing areas of expertise, is not an easy decision.
Although the company and the professional see change as a possibility for growth, it is important that decisions are taken with a minimum of trust, because someone’s future is at stake.
Can you imagine the company investing resources and an employee investing their time and efforts to build a new career and, when the change starts in practice, both realize that things will not go as expected?
It is true that there is no 100% guarantee that a change of area will be successful, but there are factors that contribute to this process having a better chance of having positive results.
And it’s based on them that we’re going to tell you how your company can adopt reskilling .
Fostering the culture of continuous learning
Consider the following scenario: the company proposes a new skills learning process with reskilling in mind.
To do so, it analyzes its staff, plans and develops strategies. There is an investment of time and resources for all this to be done.
And then, when reskilling is introduced and started to be applied, the involvement of professionals is low.
Considering more dramatic possibilities, some employees even seem to want to leave the company.
What went wrong? Why do professionals not want to embrace the opportunity to improve themselves and broaden their horizons?
The scenario just described is hypothetical and considers two issues that your company needs to pay attention to in order to adopt reskilling:
- while employees are expected to appreciate learning opportunities , not everyone really wants that.It is likely that you have already met someone who feels good and comfortable keeping the same position for years or even performing an activity in which he does not feel professionally fulfilled;
- while many employees are indeed able to appreciate learning opportunities, this may be an unfulfilled desire.Especially considering the change of area and career that reskilling usually provides, stepping out of your comfort zone is not always seen as natural.
Therefore, it is important that the company fosters a culture of continuous learning in order to prepare its employees for upskilling and reskilling .
According to a survey carried out by the British multinational Willis Towers Watson , 94% of HR directors believe in the importance of replacing one-off training with the continuous development of new skills.
Accountability is even something that contributes to solidifying this learning culture, because even though the company must get involved, the desire to learn must also come from professionals.
Furthermore, this decision also favors the hiring of professionals who are already open to reskilling , which makes life easier for the company when dealing with market news.
Identification of demands and potentialities
Considering that fostering a culture of continuous learning is an effort that should be part of the company’s general culture, we can say that analyzing the workforce in relation to demands is the first practical step towards reskilling .
Something that can be done based on the following questions:
- Which sectors of the company are outdated and need new professionals?
- What demands does the market present that represent gaps that the company has not yet been able to fill?
- Based on pre-existing skills and their profiles, who are the employees who could prepare for a change in field?
As it should be, the company does not need and should not rely only on its assessment , that is, on an assessment made exclusively by management and leadership to answer these questions.
There are tools that can be adopted, above all, in partnership with the Human Resources sector for the internal part of the analysis.
We talk about satisfaction surveys, processes that reassess competencies and even requesting feedback on current work and personal career projections.
With this, the company will be able to visualize the perspectives of change from the perspective of the employees who, in the end, are the ones who can undergo reskilling and change careers.
The process will even allow the identification of professionals who are not interested in this type of change, which is essential for achieving good results.
Still, it is worth clarifying that reskilling applies to professionals from the most different sectors of a company. Thus, it is convenient to consider a comprehensive analysis.
Strategies for applying reskilling
With all this reasoning, the time will come when the company will need to define which strategies are most appropriate for reskilling to happen. Let’s go to them.
1. Define an initial reskilling program
Reskilling is more than a professional improvement program because, as we have said, it is most commonly focused on changing the area of activity of one or more professionals.
Thus, reskilling can represent a big step in an employee’s career, as well as for the future of the company, and this requires some caution.
In addition to carefully analyzing the scenario, evaluating demands and professional profiles, it is recommended that the company has a basic initial program.
The idea is that reskilling is applied to a small group first so that any mistakes or challenges can be more easily corrected and have less impact.
2. Identify who to start with
Knowing who to start with is also critical for high engagement with reskilling .
The time will come when the company will have to communicate to its employees that it wants to adopt retraining to better take advantage of their talents.
It is worth noting which professionals get excited right away or express a desire to participate.
This is a good strategy, because it’s common for early programs to fail and the employees most interested in reskilling are also the most willing to face setbacks.
With this, it is this group that will allow the company to experience the ideal circumstances to find out what works, what needs to be changed, make tests and adjustments.
3. Bet on formal learning
For reskilling to happen, formal learning can be a necessary path, after all, we are talking about the achievement of skills that are not yet part of the reality of the selected professionals.
A change of field of activity, a redirection of career paths may require a technical course, an MBA or other course taught by a Higher Education Institution.
In this regard, it is worth remembering that companies can partner with Colleges and Universities in search of better conditions for reskilling to take place.
Depending on the requalification proposal, training and development programs for people can be created by the company or provided by third parties.
This is something that will depend on the type of skill that needs to be acquired to change the area of expertise.
Something that deserves to be highlighted with regard to in-company training is its ability to focus on learning or enhancing soft skills .
Important! The company needs to carefully evaluate the choice of employees and the request that a course — whether for relocation or upskilling — be taken.
It is not ideal that courses are an imposition on the worker because, when this is the situation, there are chances that the company has an employee who will not commit to studies through reskilling . Something that is not positive for either party.
Still, it is necessary to pay attention to legal issues . Courses, training, lectures and other learning resources, when required, must take place during working hours or result in overtime pay.
In addition, flexibility may be necessary for professionals to handle their daily tasks and studies .
4. Consider mentoring programs
Another strategy for the application of reskilling is the creation of mentoring programs that are based on the relationship between the company’s employees.
You may already know that mentoring is commonly used for young talents, whether interns or trainees , to develop professionally, absorbing technical knowledge and also the company’s culture.
This same principle can be valid for reskilling, considering that a professional who already works in a certain area can be one of the best references for another who is in the process of migrating to an area in his career.
As a result, the reskilling employee not only learns technical issues of his/her new role, but also learns them from the company’s perspective, that is, considering their own routines and processes.
The role of HR in reskilling
Now that you know not only what reskilling means and its importance, but also the paths to follow to adopt this concept in people management, let’s review the role of HR in this story.
HR has different responsibilities in the success of reskilling , but it is good to remember that it is a methodology that depends, above all, on the approval of management and needs to have the involvement of leaders. Thus, the sector can:
- make company decision makers aware of what reskilling is , its importance and benefits;
- contribute to the creation and diffusion of a culture of continuous learning ;
- guide leaders and also carry out assessments to identify potential “candidates” for reskilling , based on the company’s needs and the profile of professionals;
- assist in the process of collecting feedback from employees about their relationship with work and career paths;
- contribute to the development of reskilling programs , definition of strategies and evaluation of results.
It is good to remember that the learning culture is something that should always be part of the company’s day to day.
As part of this culture, reskilling must also receive continuous attention so that the company is attentive to new change needs and also to the results of changes already made.