22 February 2023

What is upskilling? The best way to advance your career.

What is upskilling?

You may have heard the term before, but what is upskilling really? In short, it’s the process of learning new skills or improving existing ones in order to make yourself more marketable in the job market. In fact, PwC data shows 77% of workers want to upskill, which highlights how important this area is for both employees and employers.

It could mean furthering product knowledge, developing tech competencies, or doing pretty much anything similar to keep up with modern trends and technology, giving you more up-to-date expertise. This kind of initiative helps you stay ahead of the curve, keep in tune with industry trends, creating opportunities for better employment or even becoming independent in our field without necessarily relying on a traditional degree program. 

It can also help you become more adaptable with different roles or projects, and imparts other perspectives while building up your self-confidence. This is particularly crucial for organizations that want to ensure they don’t fall victim to serious skill gaps.

Do skill gaps hurt organizations?

Skill gaps can have a significant impact on an organization’s performance and productivity. When people lack the necessary abilities to complete tasks, it can lead to costly mistakes, delays and inefficiencies. Skill gaps also create an environment of frustration and stress, which can lead to higher levels of worker turnover and absenteeism. 

In addition, they can make it difficult for organizations to remain competitive. Without the necessary knowledge, companies will be unable to keep up with industry changes or capitalize on incoming opportunities. They may also be prevented from taking full advantage of technological advancements and modern tools that could improve processes and operations. 

What is upskilling versus reskilling?

Upskilling is the process of helping existing employees acquire skills and knowledge to develop their current roles. Reskilling, on the other hand, involves teaching new skills that are necessary for a different job or career path. While upskilling initiatives tend to focus more on improvement and development within an existing role, reskilling programs are typically geared towards helping employees transition into different job roles. Both can help organizations develop a more dynamic, agile, and highly skilled workforce.

65% of employees believe upskilling is important to evaluate when seeking a new job.

What are the top benefits of upskilling at work?

There are many, but at the end of the day, it all comes back to a universally recognized truth. Knowledge grants opportunity and power, and when it comes to your career, it can quickly turn you into a near-indispensable member of the team. With today’s resources, you can pursue almost any path you imagine for yourself, so why not try?

Here are some of our top reasons for why you should learn at work:

  1. Strengthened job security: Upskilling can help you remain competitive and marketable, increasing your chances of job retention, and reducing the risk of unemployment. 
  2. Improved performance: Enhancing existing skills or gaining new ones can help you become more efficient in your role, improving job satisfaction and productivity. 
  3. Increased career opportunities: It can open up more doors for you when it comes to jobs, promotions, and higher salaries. 
  4. Enhanced professional development: Investing in training and development can help you stay ahead of the curve and increase your knowledge across multiple fields. 
  5. Improved confidence: It can boost your self-esteem and make you more confident in your job performance.
  6. Improved problem solving: It can help you think critically, identify solutions to complex problems, and provide innovative ideas for your organization.
The benefits of upskilling

What are some common obstacles when trying to learn new skills?

Okay, so you’re thinking about picking up a few abilities that will help you along your journey or set you on a different path. But as we know, nothing comes without its challenges. So what are the main things that could stand in the way? We’ve listed a few of them below, but don’t worry - we’ll also talk about the ways in which you might overcome them.

Lack of time. 

With a backlog of tasks to complete and tight deadlines, it can be difficult to allocate enough time for learning. 

At Transcom.

Training is a core part of our values and how we operate. Which means that despite a busy workload or intense schedule, there’s always time to learn something new and develop your skills. It’s built right into the training, onboarding, and every other aspect of the employee journey.

Limited resources. 

Depending on the industry you work in, available resources for learning may be limited or hard to access. 

At Transcom.

Our proprietary e-learning platform, Transcom University, is readily available to all of our teams and loaded with a variety of courses designed to increase knowledge and expand skill sets. To add to that, we offer a variety of leadership, product specialist, and technical education programs.

Financial constraints. 

Investing money in this arena can be a barrier for some, especially if your company doesn’t provide funding. 

At Transcom.

Luckily, this is something we truly believe in at Transcom. In order to provide the best in class in customer experience, we know that all of our employees have to be empowered with the latest knowledge both from the clients they’re ambassadors for, and from the market and its most recent trends.

Fear of failure. 

Learning a skill or taking on additional tasks can be intimidating and lead to procrastination, especially if you’re not sure where to start.

At Transcom.

When it’s baked into your organization’s DNA, it’s easier to take the leap without fear that it won’t work. With experts in learning and development, and a highly motivated leadership team, everyone is always fully supported on the road to gaining fresh competencies.

Resistance from superiors. 

Some bosses may not approve of upskilling initiatives as they may fear that this will lead to increased workloads or job loss. 

At Transcom.

Learning never stops. Most of our leaders started as agents, and we always advertise and encourage internal career opportunities in order to promote talent. With initiatives such as our Leadership Development Program, we ensure that our leaders pass the torch along as they go.

Feeling overwhelmed. 

If you try to take on too much too quickly, it can be easy to become overwhelmed and give up. Ensuring that you have time, mental space, and the resources to try is half the battle.

At Transcom.

Employee wellbeing is one of the most important aspects of our business, and a big part of that is ensuring that they feel fulfilled and able to do their jobs to the best of their ability. Allowing for ample time to learn skills, programs, processes, and ways of working, all enable innovation  and create a safe and inclusive environment for growth.

What is upskilling? Starting your journey.

We’ve gone through what it is, how it can benefit you, and the most common obstacles to starting. It may seem daunting at first, but have no fear. Let’s take a look at doing it for yourself while still in your current job.  

Take advantage of any training courses or online classes your employer offers. 

By taking the initiative to upskill yourself and stay ahead of your peers, you can demonstrate your commitment and dedication to continual learning. Taking advantage of any training courses or online classes offered by your employer is a great way of getting ahead in the workplace. Many employers are now offering free access to online courses and other resources that allow employees to grow and stay current with the latest industry trends.

Taking up these opportunities can help you gain valuable competencies that will give you a competitive edge over others in your field and make you more attractive to potential employers, or to other areas of your organization. 

Identify areas where you can grow.

Before you start, it’s important to take the time to identify areas where you can grow and develop. Taking an inventory of your current skillset is a great way to determine which need improvement, so you can focus on these and become even more valuable in the workplace. In fact, Gartner found 58% of employees actually need new skills in order to do their jobs successfully.

Additionally, it’s important to stay up-to-date with the latest technological advancements and industry trends, so you can gain a better understanding of where they can be applied in your own work. Learning a new program, reaching out to experts in the field you’re targeting, or dedicating time to improving on something you consider challenging are all great ways to begin.

How can AI help in upskilling?

Participation is half the final grade.

Staying up-to-date with the latest technology and industry trends is essential if you want to remain competitive in the job market. Participating in events such as conferences or seminars can help you gain a better understanding of how certain developments are impacting your field. Many companies also offer access to discounted or free tickets for such events, so don’t be afraid to take advantage of these opportunities. 

Attending industry events gives you the chance to build relationships with peers and establish yourself as an expert in your field, so get out there and connect! Even if you feel out of place in the beginning, take a deep breath and remember that everyone started somewhere. It’s important to step out of your comfort zone - that’s when growth starts.

Read, read, read.

They say the best writers are the most avid readers. The same can be applied to most other capabilities, so make sure that you stay in the loop with what’s happening in the industry and the market. Reading industry publications, blogs, and trade magazines can help you keep informed about new technologies and advancements in your field. 

Whether you’re trying to break into a different area, or taking the next step in something you’re already doing, expanding your worldview allows you to gain an understanding of how certain changes may affect your job or even create opportunities for further growth.

Ask for feedback.

Chances are, your closest circle is the one that can provide you with the most accurate read on where you stand in terms of your strengths and opportunities for advancement. Asking for feedback from peers and mentors is an effective way of gaining insight. 

Many experienced professionals are willing to share their knowledge, so take advantage of this to learn more about what your next step could be in your workplace. Ask for input from colleagues and superiors as to which areas you could focus on to help you reach your professional goals. That means having candid conversations with your manager, completing personality assessments, consulting with the learning and development team at your organization, or even simply having a chat over coffee with some peers to discuss your ideas for your future.

Take on additional projects in chosen areas.

Whilst it may not always seem possible with a heavy workload, taking on additional projects or tasks that require new skills can be a great way to gain experience in these areas. By taking initiative and expanding your knowledge base, you will become a more valuable asset to your employer and increase your chances of career advancement. 

The best way forward with this starts with communication. Taking some time to reflect on what you need, where there are opportunities in the organization, and talking to your direct manager about how you might be able to devote some time to tasks that require you to research a new skillset - these are all great steps forward that can give you a competitive edge. We believe in the method of small steps, taken one at a time. 

Upskilling is the coolest kid on the block.

If you can progress faster in your career and make yourself more attractive to potential employers who are looking for someone with advanced abilities and knowledge, then this is something you absolutely have to pay attention to. It’s essential if you want to stay competitive and advance your career. With dedication and hard work, you will become an even more valuable asset to your employer and open the door for further career advancement. 

How does upskilling benefit employers?

We know what upskilling is for employees, job seekers, and those looking for new challenges, but how can it be an asset for employers as well? Aside from staying ahead of the curve, there are a plethora of other reasons why it’s worth investing in a strong skill development culture.

Improved productivity. 

With the right program in place, organizations can increase efficiency and productivity by developing skills. Greater knowledge leads to innovation, ease of work, and higher satisfaction for support teams.

Enhanced innovation. 

With the right initiatives in place to provide space for development, you can create a culture of learning, inspiring employees to think creatively and come up with better ways of working and solutions. 

Talent retention. 

Offering the chance to learn skills can help retain talent, by providing them with development opportunities, avenues for career growth, and giving them motivation to stay with your brand for longer - if they feel like they’ll be ahead of the curve with you, they’ll hold on tight. 

Increased employee engagement. 

Upskilling programs can boost morale, increase job satisfaction, and improve employee engagement levels. At Transcom, it’s a core part of our Values - we’re lifelong learners. And all of our teams are always open to doing things better, and discovering something new. 

Cost savings. 

Investing in employee growth can save money in the long run by reducing training costs, hiring, and turnover expenses. By some estimates, organizations that don’t invest in upskilling their teams can spend over 2.5x as much on recruiting, onboarding, and training employees.

Enhanced competitiveness. 

Want an edge on the competition? Getting ahead of the market by following the latest trends and equipping your agents to do the same is what can keep you at the forefront of the industry when it comes to performance and engagement. 

Better customer service. 

Upskilled employees can provide better customer service, resulting in increased loyalty and satisfaction. Whether they’re honing their interpersonal capabilities, or improving how they handle stress and deliver specialist knowledge, they can provide better support.

What is upskilling in a successful culture?

Building a strong learning and development pillar in any organization is hard, but rewarding, work. Research done by Gallup-Amazon stated that 48% of workers in the United States would be willing to switch jobs if offered skills training opportunities. So how do you do it? And how will you know if you’ve done it well? Some of our top tips are below.

  1. Identify specific goals. Before you can begin building a successful program, it’s important to identify what your organization needs and how you can help achieve these goals. 
  2. Assess current skills. Analyze each employee’s skill set and determine what additional training is needed to help them reach their goals and objectives. 
  3. Create a plan. Develop a program that offers employees access to the resources they need to learn skills, such as industry events, seminars, digital courses and textbooks. It’s important to provide this kind of support on an organizational level, while ensuring it stay tailored to your agents’ and organization’s goals.  
  4. Monitor results. Track outcomes of upskilling initiatives by evaluating employee performance and measuring the impact on the organization. 
  5. Offer incentives. Create a system of rewards and recognition to encourage people to acquire new competencies and use them in their job. This is where tools such as gamification, frequently used at Transcom, can really produce fantastic results.
  6. Evaluate and adjust. Assess the program’s effectiveness regularly, adjusting it as needed based on feedback from employees and other stakeholders. 
  7. Celebrate success. Recognize those who have successfully upskilled and use their stories to motivate others in the organization.
How can managers create a culture of upskilling in the workplace?

Bonus option - invest in technology. Leverage the latest technologies to make upskilling more accessible and efficient, such as virtual classrooms or online platforms that offer self-paced learning materials.

In conclusion.

People never stop learning. At the end of the day, it’s what makes us want to keep trying new things, diving into the deep end of the unknown, and daring to take the leap towards the unexplored. All things that we encourage here at Transcom - so check out how you can upskill with us as part of the team.