Upskilling is more than a buzzword in the learning and development industry. It also speaks to a prioritization shift of companies embracing learning not just as a nice-to-have but a must-have to maintain a competitive edge. Upskilling employees isn’t just beneficial to the individual. Your entire organization is at an advantage when you expand employees’ knowledge and abilities

How can it pay dividends? Read on to find out how upskilling isn’t just your competitive advantage — it’s an absolute necessity.

Preview of competitive upskilling advantage

In a post-pandemic world, upskilling is a business imperative

The pandemic accelerated the transition into the next phase of upskilling at work. Now the skills companies needed to develop in their employees over the next few years will be required much sooner. 

Take data literacy, for example. Gartner says that “data literacy will become an explicit and necessary driver of business value” by 2023. Businesses have more proprietary data than ever before, but few know how to unlock its potential. Increased consumption of Udemy for Business courses on data analysis, data manipulation, and data visualization tells us that data science topics aren’t just for data scientists anymore. Some type of data literacy is essential for nearly any role. 

Traditional learning and development programs might insist that a few training sessions will improve your employees’ data savviness to set your organization up for the long haul. But it won’t. The rapidly accelerated pace of technological change and evolving business practices are shortening the skills lifespan. Cornerstone’s 2020 Research Report found that 47% of employees worry their role will significantly change in the next few years, while one in three fear their position will be eliminated. 

The tools used to aggregate and understand data are constantly changing. One tool often used by marketing teams to measure website performance is Google Analytics, which launched in 2005 and continues to advance. Its most recent version, Google Analytics 4, completely changed the web analytics tool. This update makes the product very different from Google Universal Analytics and those who had advanced knowledge of the tool are going to have to skill up. To continue leveraging the insights that a data tool like Google Analytics offers, employees will have to make time to take courses on the new Google Analytics.

Upskilling needs don’t only appear alongside organizational changes. 

How to put upskilling into the flow of work

The best way to have employees participate in learning programs is to make them easily accessible. Have learning fit seamlessly into the workday. Learners need time and space to learn, access to the right learning environment and resources, and leadership that supports their learning needs. 

This type of healthy learning culture is still possible in a remote work environment. Here are some ways to incorporate learning into the flow of work:

Upskilling at the pace of business

Cornerstone’s 2020 Research Report found that the accelerated pace of change in the workplace has led to employees seeking more meaningful employment. Upskilling can play a significant role in helping your organization to create more meaningful work for your employees. Not sure what skills matter? Download the 2021 Workplace Learning Trends Report to discover the skills your teams need.