How to Bridge Skills Gaps through Upskilling and Reskilling

Learn how to bridge the skills gap in your organization with our step-by-step guide on upskilling and reskilling full of practical strategies.



When you have a limited talent pool to choose from and need to fill a position, you either wait anxiously to find the right person or fill it with someone who is not properly qualified. 

However, a recent survey suggests the specialized skills gap in the U.S. is rapidly widening. This means the demand for professionals with a particular skill set is greater than the ability to successfully fill a role, even if you are willing to wait indefinitely for the perfect candidate. 

The solution? Upskilling and reskilling current employees.  

What is Upskilling?  

Upskilling is the process of teaching employees advanced hard and soft skills related to their current job. This allows employees to remain competitive, take on new responsibilities, and keep up with evolving job requirements, industry trends, and technological advancements.  

In other words, upskilling helps employees expand their expertise within the same field or domain. 

What is Reskilling?  

Reskilling, on the other hand, is a training strategy where you teach an existing employee a completely new skill set from their current position. Oftentimes this involves transitioning to a new department, usually because of a shift in job roles or the skills becoming less in demand.  

As technology makes more and more jobs obsolete, reskilling allows you to retain employees by putting them in a new position without losing their industry knowledge, skill sets, and relationships with customers and coworkers. 

7 Strategies for Upskilling and Reskilling Your Workforce

Both upskilling and reskilling employees can be highly effective strategies for bridging the skills gap when done correctly. Here are seven steps to effectively implement your upskilling and reskilling initiatives. 

  1. Conduct a Skills Gap Analysis  

An important first step in bridging the skills gap is understanding what is missing in your business. This can be done through employee surveys, tests, assessments, interviews, and performance evaluations. These tools will help you identify employees within the workforce who need new skills or are ready to expand their existing skill sets.  

  1. Develop a Skills Framework 

Next, you will need to outline the competencies and skills required for separate roles within your organization. This framework will serve as a guide for identifying skill deficiencies and designing additional training programs. 

  1. Align with Business Objectives 

As you develop your skills framework, ensure that your upskilling and reskilling initiatives align with your company’s strategic goals. This includes identifying key skills needed to achieve those goals and making them a priority in your learning programs. 

  1. Design Training Programs 

Now that you understand the skills gaps and have a framework that aligns with your business objectives, you can create employee training programs to help bridge the gaps. This may include some combination of internal learning, external courses, workshops, seminars, online courses, mentoring, job rotations, and certification programs. 

  1. Reward Participation 

Not everyone is intrinsically motivated to better themselves by developing new skills. To encourage participation, offer incentives. This could be as small as a one-time monetary reward for earning a certification, or an increase in pay for passing a course. 

  1. Promote from Top-Down  

For the program to be successful, your leaders must actively support and promote your reskilling and upskilling initiatives. This includes identifying skills gaps in their teams and providing opportunities for employees to develop new skills.  

While participation may need to be limited during critical times for your team’s productivity, employees should not feel guilty or threatened for participating in skills development programs. Consider setting up a schedule and allowing employees to set aside so many hours a month that do not conflict with primary obligations for developmental opportunities.

  1. Measure and Evaluate 

Develop metrics to measure your reskilling and upskilling initiatives, then measure the progress of participants to assess their performance improvements. Use feedback and data from metrics to refine and improve your programs. 

Make sure to empower employees  

Successful reskilling and upskilling will not be possible if your employees are resistant to changing or learning new skills. Allow your employees to determine their level of participation to enhance their career development.  

Many will already know what they want to learn and how they want to progress in their current career path. Your job is to help them get started and offer opportunities and resources to take positive steps forward. Ultimately, this will increase their motivation, productivity, and overall well-being while saving you on recruiting costs and potential losses in productivity. 

Consider various learning styles  

As part of your reskilling and upskilling strategies, think about the diverse ways in which people learn and how you can accommodate them. While some employees like learning days or hands-on experience, others prefer reading, webinars, e-learning courses, and even games.  

Find out and incorporate preferred learning styles by conducting surveys or gathering feedback. This will help employees to learn quicker, stay motivated, and want to keep training in the future.  

Stratus Can Help You Regularly Evaluate HR Strategies with Business Needs 

As the world keeps evolving, evaluate your strategies based on changing business needs and societal shifts to help you think outside the box. A recommended best practice is to reevaluate your upskilling and reskilling strategies at least once a year.  

For more tips, please contact your certified HR expert. Not a current Stratus HR client? Book a free consultation and our team will contact you shortly. 

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