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Modern business is transforming at scale and over the last year, leaders are becoming increasingly aware of the responsibility they have to create a future ready workforce.

With a need for innovation, resilience and sustainability, upskilling and reskilling strategies are now non-negotiable in the workplace, with organisations keen to create a workforce that can not only keep up with business demands but are inspired and motivated by change.

The question is however, how do you build an effective upskilling strategy? We discuss below.

What is an upskilling strategy?

An upskilling strategy is a strategic employee investment plan that aims to provide training to enhance the development of skills and knowledge of individuals at work. Upskilling strategies are formed for several reasons including:

  1. Managing the demand of employee learning
  2. Encouraging employee retention and loyalty
  3. Bridging skills gaps and keeping up to date with modern technologies
  4. To remain competitive within your industry

With 70% of employees keen to upskill in their job current roles, in this blog we are going to discuss the steps that organisations can take when building their own upskilling strategy, with a particular focus on personalised learning paths.

Step 1) Identify what skills are needed for each role

When building any strategy, it’s important to first think about the outcome, or rather what your organisation would like to achieve with an effective upskilling strategy. For the sake of this blog, the answer would be the development of employees’ skillsets.

Firstly, the skills required of each role must be identified. List them and separate them into categories that make sense for your business. Remember that these are the skills required for employees to reach maximum potential in their roles.

For example:

In a finance department, what skills are required of employees to properly do their jobs? What skills would you, the creator of the upskilling strategy expect those working in finance to have? Think about now and into the future.

With new technologies being developed and utilised, those working in finance will soon need to have knowledge of AL, machine learning & Intelligent Document Processing (IDP), specifically when it comes to data management.

The skills required to manage these processes should be listed.

Step 2) Undertake a skills gap analysis to see what’s missing

Gaps within organisations will always naturally occur, however, this should not and does not stop organisations consistently working to build an effective, high performing workforce. The three most common gaps in a workforce are often:

A skills gap: the difference between an individual’s current skills and the skills they require to best perform in their specific role.

A knowledge gap: referring to the knowledge that an employee has verses the knowledge that their company deems essential for their role.

A performance gap: the difference between the current and desired performance levels of employees.

Homing in on skills gaps and an upskilling strategy specifically, to know where you want to be vs where you are, a job role analysis of your current workplace positions must be undertaken. This will highlight what skills an employee must hold to do their job to the standard expected of their managers and seniors and can be undertaken without team members present.

Upon completion of a job role analysis, a skills gap analysis can then take place to pinpoint what skills may be absent of employees. It is at this stage that they should be included in the process.

It’s important to communicate the benefits of a skills gap analyse to your employees throughout the process, explaining that knowing where their current skills lie, will only support the creation of an upskilling strategy that works for them.

Ways in which you can undertake a skills gap analysis include:

  1. Analysing performance reviews to see what skills employees are using regularly.
  2. One to one interviews which include competency-based questions.
  3. Conduct both hard and soft skills tests through personality assessments and hypothetical workplace scenario questions.
  4. Observing employees while they are working

Step 3) Create and design personalised learning paths per role

Following a skills gap analysis, you should know both the skills required of each role and the skills that current exist within each role. This means that you are now in the position to create personalised learning paths for each individual, with the goal of developing the skills that appear to be lacking.

When organisations develop these paths, they will commonly use a Learning Management System (LMS). These systems are described as “software tools that allow you to create, deliver and report on training courses and programmes.”

There’s several different Learning Management Systems available for use today and each one will vary in terms of prices, features and capabilities. Some popular ones include:

  • CoreAchieve: passionate about AI, virtual reality learning and advanced technology
  • Absorb LMS: passionate about mobile learning, content and AI
  • 360Learning: passionate about collaboration, innovation design

Once your LMS has been secured, you can then create personalised learning paths.

A sequence or course of activities that an employee (or student) will undertake to meet an objective, learning paths include a multitude of different resources, including:

  • Demonstration videos
  • Interactive slide decks
  • Written information
  • Gamification
  • Certification and accreditation management

It is at this stage that you will map out the various resources necessary for each learning path, remembering that different departments and individuals will have different preferences, so a mix is often well received. An individual’s learning path is like their road map, how they will essentially get from A to B.

Step 4) Trial your upskilling strategy and ask for feedback

Before rolling out an upskilling strategy, it’s important that you have a trial period to mitigate any potential risks and errors. We recommend creating a list of questions for feedback that include:

  • The types of resources and content
  • User capabilities
  • Overall design and look and feel
  • Success and completion rate of training activity

Once you’ve confirmed these questions, it is important to ensure you have a diverse group of testers. This should include both senior and lower-level management and individuals from across the entirety of your business. More diversity often allows for better perspective.

Step 5) Launch and monitor the progress

One of the most successful ways to imbed and reinforce any new strategy into a business is to align it with incentives and targets. Straight away this will create enthusiasm and encouraged your employees to get involved.

Once you have gained the interest of employees, the most important thing they will be looking for from this point onwards is clear communication. No-one will engage with a strategy that they do not understand.

Similar to the trial stage, you will then want to make room for monitoring and evaluation. Encourage employees to speak up if they are coming across hurdles, reassuring them that there is room for change and adaptions if something does not work for them.

Monitoring also includes the collection of data, which could include a mix of hard and soft metrics like:

  1. Participant progress and completion times
  2. Behaviour changes and skill application
  3. General Pass / fail rates
  4. Improved productivity and motivation levels

Strategies often are not set in stone and to some degree should provide flexibility – especially ones based around learning and upskilling. Keep this in mind throughout the monitoring stage, which is ongoing through launch and continued use.

To help you on the journey of creating your own upskilling strategy, why not draw inspiration from some of the businesses that are doing it best?

Examples of some of the best upskilling strategies


One of four of the largest accounting firms in the world have taken a reinvention approach to upskilling, keen to ensure that the company is in the best possible position to thrive in a world of economic technological change.

Making use of individual education plans that are centred around micro-learning has ensured that employees of PWC are upskilling constantly.


Passionate about connecting their multigenerational workforce, Heineken created their upskilling strategy based on reverse mentoring program, where the younger generation entering the workforce share their skills and knowledge with senior executives and the older generation.

The thought behind this strategy is  to provide leadership with a new perspective on the future world of work and to provide autonomy to younger members of staff entering the workforce.


Mastercard, passionate about work/life balance have created their upskilling strategy around this ethos. Providing their learning through an online portal, Degreed, and in the form of engaging content that was personalised to each individual employee.

Mastercard were keen to that their upskilling strategy focussed on flexibility and developing at your own pace.

Why is building an upskilling strategy beneficial?

Upskilling strategies are no longer nice to haves but are essential for both retaining and attracting talent within a business. Upskilling strategies allow:

  • Businesses to remain competitive and highly sought after
  • Staff to feel invested in, improving performance, boosting confidence and increasing ROI
  • Organisations to bridge their skills gaps
  • Savings on recruitment costs
  • Overall increased productivity

Building an upskilling strategy is something that should excite businesses, as with upskilling, new opportunities arise.


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