Reskilling, Upskilling, and Cross Skilling

Reskilling, Upskilling, and Cross Skilling

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Reskilling is used to train and develop a recruit, and it is used to train current employees to perform a different job. Benefits of reskilling include reducing the cost of hiring new employees and reducing the time it takes to onboard new staff. Reskilling can speed up movement and availability of current employee to new positions. Implementation of reskilling can take on the format of traditional facilitator-led training, virtual training, and online programmes. A business can improve job prospects, education, and employee training by adopting a Reskilling Revolution approach to empower self-starters and employees with good time management skills.

Options to Reskill Your Team

  • Use industry courses and qualifications that lead to certification of the employee.
  • Use coaching and mentoring to identify employees who need reskilling and use directed training and development programmes to reskill the team.
  • Use on the job training to observe and learn by watching others perform work tasks before doing it themselves.
  • Use eLearning or online learning by using available time, at any location and using courses accessible across various devices. This type of training has a quick turnaround time and can be done over many different sessions.
  • Use blended learning where two or more training methods are combined to achieve reskilling outcomes.


Upskilling involves teaching current employees new skills, that allow them to move up to improved business jobs. This training type helps an organisation retain existing employees by investing in their learning, development, and growth. Upskilling leads to happy employees, and this enhances customer satisfaction for the business. It reduces the costs of losing and replacing current employees.

Benefits of Upskilling

  • Employee Retention because employees are challenged to develop and grow.
  • Leads to Customer Satisfaction in the organisation—because happy employees lead to satisfied customers.
  • It is expensive to lose and replace existing employees.

Upskilling Strategies

Personal Development Plans can include areas identified for improvement of competencies, knowledge, and skills.
Empower employees to produce their plan to decide how they want to achieve success.
Allocate time during the weekday for employees to develop their PDPs and to upskill.
Job-specific upskilling and credentialing programmes offer job-specific training to enhance current skills.

Types of Upskilling

  • Classroom training for a learning programme, learnership, skills programmes and workshops.
  • Virtual Classroom Training using virtual programmes to training employees at various locations at a designated time and using a facilitator and an online platform or technology-enabling tools.
  • Microlearning interventions can provide short 5—10 minute learning modules covering skilling topics. You can also offer a wide range of relevant issues that employees can explore based on his/her interests.
  • Use Lunch and Learn solutions where training sessions are scheduled during lunchtime to cover specific topics over a complimentary meal—in a more relaxed atmosphere.
  • Use Mentors and Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to share their expertise and knowledge to train employees.

Cross Skilling

This is training and development that aims to improve employees’ proficiency levels to perform tasks outside their current responsibilities.

Advantages of Cross Skilling for Employees

  • Increased job satisfaction for both employer and employee—the latter builds trust to take on additional roles and responsibilities.
  • Employees will have more significant opportunities to increase job satisfaction.
  • A greater sense of job ownership is achieved, and morale is boosted—especially when knowledgeable and skilled employees are cross-training others.

Advantages of Cross Skilling for the Business

  • Leads to multi-trained, flexible, and resilient employees. Has a positive impact on coping with absenteeism and staff shortages in critical areas of the business.
  • Makes employees feel valued, happier, and productive.
  • Multi-trained employees can take on more responsibilities, making them candidates for internal promotions.
    Reduce the cost of recruitment and hiring.

Deciding to Reskill or Upskill or Not

In February 2020, a McKinsey global survey established that nine out ten executives and managers noticed skills gaps in their organisation or expected to develop gaps within the next five years. 33% of the survey respondents communicated that their organisations could not cope, currently, with workplace disruptions from technological and market changes.

Although the survey was conducted pre-COVID-19, the results of the study are indeed still applicable. Skills gaps exist and continue to exist. The workplace and work environments have become challenging and more volatile—and this calls for greater usefulness and adaptability in the role-players involved. The greatest challenge that the business faced was the shift to remote work or WFH environment. This pivot led to a steep learning curve for many organisations and their employees.

All business activities, such as team collaboration, client interaction, customer engagement, and training pivoted to online platforms such as MS Teams, Zoom and Hangouts. Virtual communication has become a staple medium for any organisation to interact with its internal and external customers.

Reskilling and upskilling programmes demonstrate they effective at closing the existing and recently identified skills gaps in the new working environment.

Summary of Survey Findings

The survey results of the McKinsey Global Survey can be summarised as follows:

Company Responses to Upskilling and Reskilling during Covid-19 pandemic
Employee responses to Reskilling and Upskilling during Covid-19 pandemic

Essential Soft Skills Results

Of all the McKinsey Global Survey responses, participants identified the following essential skills lacking in their organisations.

Essential Soft Skill identified in the Survey

Support for Reskilling and Upskilling

Of all the responses to the McKinsey Global Survey, companies and employees have responded as follows:

Impact of Reskilling and Upskilling on Company productivity levels

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The following reference material was used for this post.

  • Agrawal, S., De Smet, A., Poplawski, P. and Reich, A., 2020. How companies are reskilling to address talent gaps. [online] McKinsey& Company. Available at: <> [Accessed 2 February 2021].Survey: Upskilling and reskilling in 2020 | Workable
  • “Survey: Upskilling and Reskilling In 2020 | Workable”. Recruiting Resources: How to Recruit and Hire Better, 2020, Accessed 2 Feb 2021.