Upskilling: What It Is and Why It Matters

Making sure that your employees continue to acquire new skills and refine the ones they have is hardly a new idea, but as competition for qualified workers increases, it’s become an essential part of maintaining a productive workforce and gaining a lasting competitive advantage. For many contractors, that means proactively exposing their employees to concepts and technologies that will define the workplace in the future. According to experts, the digital skill gap is very real, and as industries continue to adopt automated processes and AI-enabled tools, making sure that your employees have access to digital learning opportunities is time and money well spent.

What It Is
Simply put, upskilling is an ongoing commitment to education and development that expands and enhances your employees’ professional capabilities. It can be the result of formalized live and online training programs, individual mentorship or group collaboration among workers with a diversified skill set. Regardless of format, the goal is to equip your employees with skills that support improved performance now and anticipates which skills will be necessary for success in the future. The construction industry is undeniably a dynamic one; as new tools and technologies are introduced, the evolution of traditional roles and responsibilities in the construction industry is inevitable. Upskilling is important preparation for new ways of working, helping to ensure the continued relevance and value of your employees and the viability of your business as a whole. 

By 2022, 54% of all employees will require upskilling.

World Economic Forum.

Why It Matters
Upskilling is more than a professional “perk” for your employees; it has direct benefits for your company, too, and cost reduction is at the top of the list. Prior to the pandemic, many contractors were having a hard time finding enough qualified workers to fill vital positions, and as the industry begins to recover from the impacts of Covid-19, competition for the best candidates is certain to resume. The real problem? Training new employees, assuming they are available, can be cost-prohibitive. By investing in the upskilling of existing employees, companies have the potential to acquire similar skill sets at a much lower cost. 

A recent survey conducted by SHRM found the average cost-per-hire of new employees is more than $4,000.

Important as it is, cost isn’t the only reason to upskill your employees. Upskilling has been shown to improve employee engagement, morale and retention, all of which can result in a more productive workplace, reduced turnover, and ultimately, a more profitable business.

Engagement. Broadly speaking, an engaged employee is a good employee, and upskilling has been shown to support higher levels of engagement at every level. Just as important, with an expanding skillset and knowledge bank, employees are more likely to perform better and be accountable for outcomes

Morale. Attitude, they say, is everything. Having a workable plan in place to develop professional skills in your workforce can help make your employees feel valued, which in turn improves their morale and strengthens their loyalty to your company.

Retention. According to a Gallup poll, companies that offer professional development opportunities are more attractive to desirable job candidates. By giving employees the chance to upskill, you make it clear that your company is focused on the future and are willing to make an investment in their professional success. 

Conclusion:
If you think that your employees could benefit from an upskilling program, it pays to take action sooner rather than later. The construction industry continues to evolve at a rapid pace, with new tools and technologies emerging every day. Contractors that are embracing change and adopting advanced solutions have a built-in advantage: their technology partners are an ideal choice to provide formalized employee training on the products they provide, and the knowledge that is transferred can serve as a catalyst for internal mentorship and group collaboration. By closing the digital skill gap now, your company can boost individual performance and proactively prepare for the future.

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