Why employers can’t ignore the upskilling boom (and 3 platforms to help)


Upskilling is a win-win for businesses and employees. By providing your workforce with regular opportunities to engage in training and expand their skill sets, you can enrich your employer brand, minimise skill gaps, and improve employee productivity and retention.

Online training is more cost-effective and offers greater flexibility than in-person training, and the blend of learning formats involved (e.g. short videos, interactive elements, quizzes) can support information retention.

The advantages that come with incorporating an upskilling platform into your company’s learning ecosystem have been never so compelling. As more and more organisations adopt hybrid or remote working models, there is much to appreciate about a tool that enables employees to learn new professional skills from wherever they are in the world, at a time that suits them. In addition, many businesses deploy their upskilling platform as a key part of their onboarding process to help new starters get to grips with the company.

Promisingly, today’s employees seem poised to take up learning opportunities from their employer. According to our 2021 UK Skills Report, an astounding 97% of UK professionals indicated their desire to upskill in order to stay relevant in their roles.

Why employees love upskilling

There aren’t many certainties in life, particularly in business, yet this data suggests a near-universal appetite for upskilling among the workforce and presents a rich and rewarding opportunity that employers shouldn’t ignore. However, it appears that few of them are capitalising on this demand, with only 4% of employees stating that their employer sees upskilling as a high priority or essential.

Experts have been debating the optimal methods of motivating employees and increasing productivity for decades. Employers may be reluctant to invest in an e-learning platform due to concerns around the likelihood of employees engaging with their offering. But our survey reveals an enthusiasm that would lead to strong employee participation, especially when you consider the specific benefits that upskilling holds for them.  

Move up – without moving on

Many individuals value career growth above their loyalty to an employer, and will remain open to the idea of moving on to a new company should a more challenging or dynamic role present itself. However, if employees are given the chance to upskill regularly, many will choose to avoid the stress of applying and interviewing for a new job, and instead stay in their current role to embrace the opportunities immediately available to them.

A chance for self-discovery

A career path doesn’t need to be set in stone in order to flourish. While some employees will use an e-learning platform to learn a specific skill that is guaranteed to enhance their careers, for others, it is a chance to discover a new talent or passion. They will relish the opportunity to gain knowledge in a brand-new professional field and feel greater loyalty towards your organisation for making it possible.

Staking their claim

According to our Skills Report, 43% of UK employees have said that the skills needed to perform their job have changed as a direct result of the pandemic. Its continuing impact has left businesses across the world uncertain about their future, and employees are alert to the possibility of their company downsizing and making redundancies.

Employees want to stay relevant, not just in their roles, but in their organisation as a whole. They believe that most effective way to prove themselves is by equipping themselves with new skills, keeping up with technological advancements and being prepared for new opportunities within your business.

Understanding the reasons why an upskilling platform would appeal to employees is important, as they connect directly with the broader expectations of the modern workforce. Fundamentally, both current and prospective employees want to know that their employer cares about their professional development, and by incorporating a designated upskilling programme into your Employee Value Proposition, you can strengthen your employer brand and attract top talent to your business.

Licence to upskill: our 3 favourite platforms

When selecting our recommendations, our in-house Innovation team prioritised those that provide an optimal employee experience, and were most likely to be embraced by your workforce. Each of the platforms below feature user-friendly interfaces and intuitive machine learning that suggests content based on each individual’s search history.

1.       Workday Learning

Sitting within their Talent Management solution, Workday Learning combines learning, content curation, internal social sharing and job search in a single system.

Both custom and pre-defined learning pathways enable employers to qualify and upskill employees for the future, while personalised job recommendations and integration with your internal job marketplace supports internal mobility.

2.       Cornerstone Learning

Cornerstone Learning is designed to support both business-driven and employee-driven development at scale.

The platform’s intuitive algorithms direct the right training to the right learners – from mandatory compliance to self-driven development. Cornerstone’s accessibility and ease of use can help promote and develop a culture of learning within your organisation.

3.       Degreed

Degreed connects learning with new job opportunities in one employee engagement platform. By providing a centralised point of access for content, skills, learning and job postings, Degreed can streamline the upskilling and reskilling process for your business.

Degreed is unique for its ability to integrate skills insights with virtually every type of people development experience – from learning to mentors, to projects, gigs, and jobs. It can be used for learning and development, skill analytics, or career mobility.

Remember, no matter which platform you choose for your business, it is crucial that you align the internal launch with engaging training for employees so they can understand how to get the most from it. This will bring a sense of momentum, so you can quickly develop a culture of learning and development within your organisation, and meet your employees’ upskilling demands head-on.

Download our UK Skills Report 2021 to discover the most in-demand skills for the new world of work, best practices for upskilling your talent, employee insights and more.