It’s the skills that pay the bills

‘Upskilling’ is a buzzword thrown about a lot these days, but what does it really mean and how can your business benefit from it?

If you could change one thing to improve your organisation tomorrow, what would it be? 

Install a new piece of software? Move to a new office? Free pizza on Fridays? While I’m sure we’re all secretly hoping for the latter, one way of quickly improving your staff’s productivity, wellbeing and preparation for the future is to introduce a programme of ‘upskilling’.


‘Upskilling’ is a buzzword thrown about a lot these days, but what does it really mean and how can your business benefit from it?

In its essence, upskilling involves teaching new skills to employees. Sounds simple enough right? However, it has the potential to be so much more. Although teaching specific skills to staff no doubt has significant benefits for solving specific problems, where upskilling can be really amazing is in its implications for the culture of a business. And don’t just take it from us!

According to PwC’s Upskilling report from 2020 (*1), 41% of businesses surveyed said their upskilling programme has been ‘very effective’ in creating a stronger corporate culture and engaging employees.

Implementing structured programmes of upskilling fosters a culture of continuous self-improvement, adaptation and flexibility among staff. This is all the more important now that our relationship with machines and automated processes is becoming more intimate, and change happens rapidly and without much notice. By promoting learning and professional development, businesses can empower their people to be flexible when faced with changing times, responsive to developments in technology, and more productive in their work. Upskilling is about more than teaching staff how to automate data entry or use the latest collaboration platform: it’s about encouraging a resilient approach to learning and trying new things. It also makes your company a more fun and fulfilling place to work!

We’ll let the benefits of upskilling for productivity speak for themselves. 93% of CEOs (*2), who have introduced upskilling programmes, have found that they have increased productivity. There are a few reasons that might explain this.

First, when people learn new skills, new possibilities are opened up to them. Upskilling allows staff to tackle work outside of their usual remit and to engage more meaningfully in areas of work that they were previously unfamiliar with. This means that staff are more versatile and their time at work is more worthwhile. Instead of spending all his time writing code for the website, Tim can now write a few lines of HTML before giving a stunning motivational speech!

Second, people are often more productive when they feel fulfilled in their work. Learning new skills is satisfying and fulfilling in its own right, and can make employees more motivated by giving them a sense of progression and achievement. Also, encouraging and facilitating upskilling can make staff more aware that their employer is personally invested in their success, and thereby highlighting that their contribution is meaningful.

Finally, upskilling enables new technology to be used more effectively. When staff engage in regular upskilling, they can apply new technologies, but, more importantly, they can apply them in creative ways. These benefits of upskilling all contribute to a more productive and fulfilling workplace!



*2 World Economic Forum Future of Jobs Report 2020 (October 2020)

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