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Upskilling, Reskilling and Skilling: A How To Guide

Find out how you can spend your time productively by refreshing and building your skill-set to give yourself and your team a competitive advantage.
Upskilling, Reskilling and Skilling: A How To Guide

Updated 24/06/2020

The introduction of the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has seen many businesses across the country furlough their workers in order to keep their businesses alive and protect their profitability. Moreover, with the economic challenges brought about by coronavirus potentially causing a new recession, unemployment rates have soared.

As a result of the UK’s lockdown measures, many people have found themselves sitting at home with extra time on their hands- which might be a problem. This extra time away from work may mean people become bored, feel like they lack purpose, or find that their wellbeing suffers from the sheer amount of time spent without a clear focus.

So, we’d like to shine a light on how any downtime during or after lockdown could be better spent - and used to capitalise on new learning opportunities that potentially improve the success of a business later down the line by helping its employees develop a strong and broad skillset.

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • Skilling – how can I as an employer support my employees?
  • Upskilling – What options are available to improve my value to my organisation or as a prospective employee?
  • Reskilling – Why re-learning your duties may help improve performance

If you’re a business owner, this guide may help you figure out how to help your employees develop their skillsets, and if you’re furloughed, unemployed or just have some extra time on your hands - perhaps these tips could help you put yourself in a better position to sieze the next opportunity you come across.

What is upskilling and how can I upskill people?

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There’s plenty of positive outcomes that can be born out of a decision to upskill- which means to upgrade a skillset and develop new competencies. For employers, upskilling your employees can really affect your business by helping your team evaluate and build upon what they’re personally bringing to the table.

Having your team learn new technical skills and cutting-edge strategies may create new opportunities. Perhaps, for example, by learning a new technology- you’re able to analyse your sales data on a deeper level that helps you better understand which customer segments you should be targeting. Or, perhaps by learning a new trade that’s closely related to your current skillset, you can expand your offerings and add value to your customer’s experience (and perhaps your business’ bottom line).

For employers, you could upskill your employees by searching for courses (or creating courses) for them to undertake in their free time, and the same is true for employees. So, what skills are worth learning?

What is the difference between soft skills and hard skills?

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It’s worth noting that skills can loosely be categorised into two different groups. Examples of soft skills include creativity, emotional intelligence and adaptability- and acquiring soft skills such as these may increase the value that your employees can add to your business in a variety of different ways.

This could include making your employees better team-players or helping them to develop their own leadership capabilities and communication skills. It goes without saying that these kinds of abstract skills are highly desirable in the workplace- they may be what separates your business from your competitors.

Hard skills, on the other hand, are practical, technical competencies you have. They can include:

  • Knowing how to use a piece of equipment
  • Understanding and interpreting data using different software (also known as analytical reasoning)
  • Sales
  • Qualifications
  • Language skills
  • Computer programming

These skills often are more than just ‘desirable’- they’re required in order to do a job effectively. So, how can you upskill with your free time during or after lockdown?

Where can I acquire new skills for the workplace?

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Exactly where to learn new skills really depends on the industry within which you work. Generally speaking, though, for each different discipline there are a range of online courses available, many of which are free, to help expand your skillset. Some examples include:

Graduate skills

If you’re a recent graduate in an entry-level job, are yet to graduate, or know someone in this position, you may want to browse giveagradago.com’s list of free online courses which could help pad out your CV or progress quickly to an assistant or executive level job.

Practical skills

For learning practical trades, Trades Courses offer a range of training courses (fees apply) which are designed to teach incredibly technical skills through an online portal - something which may be desirable during or after lockdown. If you’re a business owner and looking to upskill your employees as electricians, plumbers or gas safe engineers, a simple Google search for ‘practical skills courses’ or ‘trades courses’ may help you discover a brilliant new resource.

Digital skills

Those who work in digital industries are likely to be familiar with Facebook, Google, Twitter and the likes. These giant platforms benefit from skilled marketers, SEO analysts and advertisers using their platforms effectively, and have each compiled their own list of guides and training courses.

Google’s analytics courses, for example, may teach a business owner or its employees how to properly understand the back-end of a website - and help you set up your online platform for success.

If you have employees who you think would benefit from upskilling during or after lockdown, it may be worth creating a training program for them. Having such a schedule in place may help them organise themselves and improve their wellbeing - after all it may be difficult to motivate yourself to get up in the morning if you have nothing planned for the day.

But, if you find that upskilling isn’t hugely relevant for your team - it may be worth turning to reskilling instead.

What is reskilling?

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Reskilling simply means relearning skills you have acquired in the past. This tactic is hugely underrated, as many of us could suffer from getting into negative habits of presuming that we’re experts in everything we do - while failing to keep up to date with the latest trends and methods used in our industry.

A practical way of approaching reskilling could be to revisit your employees’ job descriptions. Look at the skills that you’ve listed as essential, and assign your employees some courses to work through that ensure that those skills are not only known, but refined to a high standard. Doing so may help your business excel in subtle ways, and none of us are above refreshing our skillsets.

For employees, you could examine your CV and see what proficiencies you have listed. Are you confident that you can talk about and deliver on each of those skills? If not, it may be time for a refresher course to ensure you stay ahead of the competition and give your team a competitive advantage.

Skilling: teaching and empowering others

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Skilling, or teaching others new skills, is a trait good mentors often have and want to utilise. As the leader of a small business, you may benefit from teaching new skills to your employees, as you could find that they become better equipped to support you and challenge you - making your business stronger as a whole.

Skilling is about advocacy. It could demonstrate to your team that you support them and take their personal development seriously. Different individuals in different job roles may have varying personal development needs, but if you have limited time to set up a training program you could even look to incorporate some group training sessions into your team’s schedules.

Furlough rules state that whilst on furlough, you cannot perform business-generating activities for your employer. You can, however, undertake training - so many businesses may be taking this opportunity to help develop their employees’ skillsets and invest in their futures.

Are you doing all you can to support your team during lockdown? Are there skills you’ve been meaning to learn but keep putting off? If so, you may want to consider skilling, upskilling or reskilling to make the most of the extra time you have and keep yourself and your team competitive.

How could Esme Loans help?

These are difficult times for many businesses, so it’s important now more than ever, to take good care of yourself and your team. If you’re concerned about your business being impacted financially due to coronavirus, visit our advice page for information about how we may be able to support you.