Difference Between Upskilling and Reskilling
Upskilling and reskilling employees helps retain talent and close skill gaps. Learn the difference between the two and strategies to skill employees.
Upskilling Versus Reskilling
Define and explore employee skilling techniques for a more agile workforce.
When an employee undertakes learning to expand their existing skill set, that learning is known as upskilling. These additional skills enhance the worker’s performance in their current role, potentially advancing them along their career path.
Employee reskilling involves learning new skills outside of the worker’s existing skillset. These skills are often closely adjacent to their current function, but may sometimes be geared toward a different path entirely.
Both of the above terms apply to the development of talent, and both require the employee to learn new skills. So how do they differ?
What’s the Difference Between Upskilling and Reskilling?
In short, the distinction between upskilling and reskilling is the result. The processes are similar in that they help employees expand their knowledge, but they differ in the nature of the skills learned and in the end goal of the learning.
In this example, AdCo has recently decided to expand their offering to include motion graphics. Lia has been a production designer there for two years, and has always had an interest in motion graphics. Instead of hiring outside the organization, AdCo offers Lia the opportunity to take motion design courses through the company’s learning budget. By expanding her design skillset, Lia is able to step into the newly created motion designer role.
Northern Knickknack has recently automated their knickknack painting process. In this example, Taylor has been a painter with Northern Knickknack for 10 years. Taylor knows the product inside and out, and the company values that expertise. Instead of being let go, Taylor has been retraining as a CAD specialist to work on the team that designs new knickknacks.
Upskilling advances talent on a linear path, such as the progression seen in Jordan’s example. Reskilling connotes lateral movement, like Taylor’s switch from hand skills to technical skills.
Why Upskill and Reskill?
The world of work is changing, and this constant evolution requires a workforce that’s more agile than it has ever been. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated these changes to a pace that few anticipated — bringing home the realities of increasing automation, the challenges of remote work, and the need for flexibility at every level. L&D departments are an employee’s biggest ally when it comes to navigating these changes.
A strong L&D program is also essential to attracting high quality talent. Why? People want to work for employers who foster great culture. In a 2021 survey, employees overwhelmingly rated learning and growth opportunities as the number one marker of an exceptional workplace. Those who rated their work culture as exceptional were also 31 percent more likely to recommend their employer to job seekers, bringing additional talent into the organization.
A great culture with L&D as its keystone doesn’t just attract talent, it also improves employee retention rates. How? Upskilling and reskilling the workforce through L&D is a key driver of internal mobility in an organization. On average, companies who excel at promoting internal mobility keep employees almost twice as long as companies whose L&D efforts fall short.
Upskilling and reskilling employees does more than close skill gaps. When you invest in your talent’s development, they’re happier and they stick around longer. Implementing an L&D program with a learning platform like LinkedIn Learning — complete with over 16,000 courses to both upskill and reskill your workforce — has a cascading effect throughout the organization. The end result? Advancement toward your company’s business goals.