Not too long ago, we had a discussion with the highly respected L&D professional Dr. Stella Lee in which she argued that the COVID pandemic presented a need, challenge, and opportunity to L&D professionals to help reskill and upskill workers (and noted that COVID just accelerated a need for reskilling and upskilling that existed before the pandemic).
In this article, we’re going to discuss reskilling workers a little bit. Please also check out our earlier article on upskilling workers.
Before you read on, please feel free to download the Guide to Online Manufacturing Training below.
Part of the answer to filling the employee skill gap at many workplaces is going to have to come from reskilling and upskilling. This lengthy piece by Deloitte does a nice job of sketching that out for you: Deloitte on Reskilling, Upskilling & Outskilling.
But let's start up here by explaining what upskilling and reskilling are.
If you're upskilling an employee, you're helping that employee develop new skills that they'll use for their current job. So it's not about teaching them to do a different job, just to perform their current job in some different ways (hint: this may include working alongside or with technology).
By contrast, when you're reskilling an employee, you're helping that worker develop skills for an entirely new job. There may be a number of reasons an employee needs reskilling. In some cases, their previous job may have disappeared. In other cases, a new job that didn't exist before may come about (again, perhaps because of changes in technology). There's reason to believe that with the coming of Industry 4.0 and/or advanced manufacturing, this is going to happen more and more commonly over time.
If you're a learning and development professional and you're spending all your time on compliance training, hoping somehow that workers will reskill and upskill on their own, you're probably going to be disappointed. And you may wind up without a job, as you'll find it difficult to argue how the efforts of your L&D department align with and support your organization's business goal. Yes, your organization wants and needs to comply, and yes, providing compliance training is a good idea, but your organization DEFINITELY wants skilled workers to help them reach their goals and this is where you should focus much of your effort).
To do this, you'll find it helpful to create a learning partnership with the employee. Remember that learning and skill development are hard for anyone, and it can be all the harder (and all the more intimidating) for a worker who's struggling to learn entirely new skills for an entirely new position. So remember part of your role here is to simply help encourage and support the worker.
Of course, you'll also want to use evidence-based training practices, including having an understanding of what the worker believes, knows, and can do now. In some cases, you'll want to build that new knowledge and skills upon those previous ones. In other cases, you may need to help the worker "unlearn" something they believe so they can get a new understanding of something (see our articles on lifelong learning and mental models for more on this).
Every job is going to require different, unique skills. But there are going to be some commonalities that workers will need to continue thriving in the advanced manufacturing workplaces.
In some cases, you may have to give workers an assist on some basics like math, science, and computers. We've got an entire library of core industrial skills training to help you and your employees on that.
Of course, as our workplaces become more and more complex, workers will need to become more and more adept at problem-solving and troubleshooting will be necessary skills, as will be critical thinking, communication, and working on a team (see our Advanced Manufacturing Skills article for more on this).
You bet. We're learning and performance-improvement specialists. Check out our Solutions to see how we can help!
At Vector, we’re here to help employers help employees on their upskilling journey. We’ve got many libraries of elearning courses on the essential topics for a modern manufacturing workplace and a learning management system to help deliver that training to employees.