How to Effectively Upskill Your Employees (with 8 Examples from Famous Companies)


HR Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for HR pros

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

There’s lots of inspiration available from big firms when it comes to upskilling, which could prove crucial to the future success of your business.

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How to Effectively Upskill Your Employees (with 8 Examples from Famous Companies)
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Upskilling is becoming an increasingly important aspect of HR for companies across all sectors as employees seek to learn the new capabilities they need for the modern working environment.

Far from being just another buzzword, recent research from Gartner found that 58% of the current workforce will require new skillsets to do their jobs adequately in future. Meanwhile, further findings from Gartner suggest the total number of skills needed for any given job increases by 10% every year.

The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly accelerated and exacerbated the skills gap, but the availability of talent was a problem even before the health crisis. Some 70% of CEOs were concerned over this issue prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, according to PwC.

That’s why businesses want to future-proof their workforces to boost their resilience as the digital economy continues to evolve, while employees are increasingly eager to stay relevant and bridge the gaps in their knowledge.

But how exactly do you roll out an upskilling strategy and know where to start in imparting fresh, useful new knowledge to your workers? A good place to begin could be to look at the existing initiatives of some of the world’s leading organizations for inspiration.

Here are just a few upskilling programs that you could emulate:

1. Walmart

Walmart has been running its Live Better U scheme since 2018, and it aims to encourage its employees into higher education by completely reimbursing their tuition fees from partner educators.

This tackles the problem of high fees putting adults off getting qualifications and ensures associates have all the key skills they need in their day-to-day careers. To reduce the investment required for an initiative like this, you could consider partial cost-covering or promotion of selected short courses.

2. PwC

PwC has invested $3 billion into its New World, New Skills and Digital Fitness programs, which aim to allow employees to follow individualized education paths based on micro-learning to constantly upskill.

These are designed to “help our people think differently and unlock their innovative creativity at scale”, said vice-chair Joe Atkinson.

3. Randstad US

One of the US’s biggest staffing organizations, Randstad offers a range of training programs for its employees across topics such as leadership development, communication skills and coaching.

For example, its partnership with Udemy means staff can take advantage of courses on key business skills and even gain professional certifications in specific areas like Python, machine learning and cloud services, all of which they may need in future.

4. Pfizer

Pfizer offers learning and development schemes split into ‘required’, ‘necessary’ and ‘desired’ in order to encourage employees to feel as though they want to go the extra mile in boosting their skills.

This culture of encouragement ensures work-life balance is retained while also offering staff plenty of opportunities for career advancement.

5. Accenture

Accenture has invested almost $1 billion since 2021 alone in training and upskilling its workforce via the Connected Learning Platform. This learning exchange portal provides content from experts within the company as well as those outside it and offers modules both digital and classroom-based.

What’s more, the organization has also been assisting with the rollout of training and upskilling programs for its clients and partners, further building key competencies workers need in their day-to-day careers.

6. Mastercard

Credit card giant Mastercard also provides personalized learning pathways for employees, but it stands out by offering a very modern array of portals through which to pursue them. There’s everything from podcasts to blogs via its provider Degreed, meaning staff can learn in their own way and even while they’re on the move.

7. Marriott International

Another great example is Marriott’s Global Voyage Leadership Development program, which provides university graduates with training in everything from accounting to engineering to operations. This ensures they have a specialized background to make career progression more likely throughout their working lives.

8. Amazon

Finally, there is of course Amazon and its $1.25 billion Upskilling 2025 scheme. Among the best-known aspects of this are the Mechatronics and Robotics Apprenticeship Program, which provides classes and training to prepare for a digitized future, and the AWS Grow Our Talent initiative for those with entry-level or non-traditional backgrounds.

Following their lead

These schemes demonstrate the extent to which upskilling can really work in practice, so it's worth considering what you can do to follow these examples by:

The results could be significant for all involved, as a recent survey by Workable, TalentLMS and Training Journal found 91% of companies and 81% of employees feel upskilling has boosted their productivity.

Furthermore, 74% of employees said they would prefer to work for a firm that offers upskilling opportunities, showing the extent to which such initiatives are in demand.

By incorporating upskilling into an employee’s career journey right from the beginning, you can build trust in your workforce, keep their skills relevant and ensure your business is better placed for success in the future.

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