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Reskilling and Upskilling Initiatives in Global Workforce Development

Managing an efficient and flexible workforce can be challenging, but reskilling and upskilling can help make things easier. Discover how in this post.

Gabriele Culot
Written by Gabriele Culot
April 8, 2024
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Key takeaways

  1. Reskilling and upskilling are crucial elements of any successful people management strategy
  2. A clear understanding of company goals and growth trajectory is important to ensure these initiatives deliver positive results
  3. A sufficient allocation of resources is essential to the implementation of reskilling and upskilling initiatives

Upskilling and reskilling are two indispensable talent management strategies that can help boost performance while avoiding staff turnover and improving the overall work environment.

As pointed out in a Gartner study, promoting worker retention through ongoing mentoring and learning programs is a very successful way to future-proof an organization. However, the approach of 77% of surveyed executives, when it comes to learning and development for workforce training, falls short.

In this post, we explore how entrepreneurs and people managers can create a workplace that harmonizes business needs with employee career development aspirations through the strategic use of reskilling and upskilling.

What are upskilling and reskilling?

What is reskilling?

Reskilling refers to the process of learning new skills or retraining workers in order to adapt to changes in the job market or technological advancements. It involves providing current employees with opportunities to gain the knowledge and capabilities needed for different tasks within the organization or industry.

Key elements of reskilling

  • Identifying skill gaps within the organization
  • Offering targeted training programs to address specific needs
  • Empowering employees to transition into new roles or responsibilities
  • Enhancing the overall skillset of employees
  • Improving employee satisfaction and retention rates

What is upskilling?

Upskilling involves providing employees with opportunities to acquire additional skills and new knowledge to advance their career path and adapt to changing job requirements. It focuses on developing employees' existing skills to help them become more proficient, efficient, and competitive in their current jobs.

Key elements of upskilling

  • Offering training programs that enhance existing skills
  • Encouraging continuous learning and professional development
  • Promoting a continuous learning culture and growth within the organization 
  • Supporting employees in achieving their career goals
  • Increasing productivity and innovation within the workforce

Main differences between upskilling and reskilling



Focuses on skill refinement and specialization

Focuses on developing new skills

Aims at training workers to improve their competencies and thus achieve better performance

Has the goal of training an employee’s adaptability to new positions

Ideal if you are planning to expand the scope of work within a team or department, but are not planning headcount changes

Ideal if you need to pivot to new processes or reallocate resources during organizational restructuring

Benefits of upskilling and reskilling for employee retention

In an increasingly competitive job market where finding the right talent is a challenge, overlooking employee retention can be a big mistake. This is due to the high costs associated with recruitment processes, which can result in an increased cost-per-hire rate if new employees are not motivated to stay long-term.

Implementing a staff retention strategy can prevent communication issues, build trust among employees, and ensure that departments operate effectively on both strategic and operational levels. It makes setting long-term goals and projecting future achievements more feasible.

People feel engaged and connected to you as an organization when they feel connected and engaged with the people, to include their manager, leadership, cross functional partners, and peers they connect with across various interest groups.

Casey Bailey, Head of People, Deel

Many retention strategies focus on economic or cultural incentives (bonuses, events, parties, etc.); however, as important as these may be to convincing talent to stay in the organization, they may not deliver the best results if they are not paired with upskilling and reskilling strategies and plans.

These should be seen as essential components of any retention strategy. They avoid career stagnation, which is a key driver of employee turnover, no matter how good other incentives may be.

✨ Discover how Quantium retained top talent with Deel’s global mobility solutions

With Deel, we have an easy remote work solution powered by a user-friendly platform and a seamless process. This has been helpful in ensuring we didn’t lose key staff and the deep corporate knowledge and skills that are hugely beneficial to our business

Lysette Randall, Executive, HR Performance & Partnering, Quantium

Main benefits of upskilling and reskilling for employee retention:

  • Promoting a holistic development of both soft and hard skills
  • Opening broad opportunities for professional growth, both vertical and horizontal
  • Enabling a path of continuous growth for workers
  • Supporting better alignment of worker skills with organizational needs
  • Delivering higher job satisfaction rates
  • Increasing opportunities for employee recognition and promotion
  • Lowering recruitment costs
  • Promoting higher levels of satisfaction and engagement
  • Improving the organization’s brand recognition as a good employer
  • Fostering a continuous learning culture within the organization.
  • Supporting diversity and inclusion initiatives by offering more opportunities

Implement upskilling and reskilling initiatives successfully

While there is widespread agreement on the benefits of reskilling and upskilling, implementing them successfully can be more complicated. Plans and priorities change, and ensuring there are open development avenues for employees can quickly move down the priority list, especially in fast-paced environments. However, it doesn’t have to be difficult, and below, we show you how to do it.

Start with two foundational steps:

  • Outline your company’s future goals and trajectory
  • Ensure you allocate sufficient resources to ensure your people management efforts can align with business plans.

With these bases covered, you can move forward with implementing your strategic plan step by step.

Master upskilling and reskilling in 5 steps

Here is a five-step wireframe you can use and adapt to your specific needs. While each organizational structure may be different, these five steps should serve as common building blocks for most situations.

Step 1

Define a process and selection criteria for participants

Step 2

Design a short, medium, and long-term training program

Step 3

Share and communicate the plan with the team

step 4

Measure and optimize the training plan and initiatives

Step 5

Assign new responsibilities or relocate to new roles

Paso 1

Definir un proceso y criterios de selección de los participantes.

Paso 2

Diseñar un plan de formación a corto, medio y largo plazo.

Paso 3

Compartir y comunicar el plan con el equipo.

Paso 4

Medir y optimizar el plan de formación.

Paso 5

Asignar nuevas responsabilidades o reubicar a nuevos roles.

1. Define a process and selection criteria

While it’s important that everyone can access new tools and resources to improve their current role, and a good plan should aim to enable everyone to grow and develop according to their needs and preferences, you will surely find roles that require priority in training needs.

This is why clearly defined processes and selection criteria are important, as they ensure clarity and transparency in reskilling and upskilling initiatives, facilitating their management and accessibility.

When designing the process, ask yourself:

  • What are the critical skill gaps at present?
  • What hard and soft skills training do you need to incorporate to address future needs?
  • Which individuals have priority for updating their knowledge or acquiring new skills?

A good starting point is to diagnose the current situation and future demands through team and manager surveys and performance evaluations and use the results to map out and prioritize any skill gaps that need to be addressed.

2. Design short, medium, and long-term training plans

Once the gaps are identified and prioritized, you should start building training plans to address them. Building them in tiers is a smart approach, as it enables more flexible planning and opens up a broader range of learning opportunities for workers looking to grow professionally.

To build training plans for each upskilling and reskilling tier you identify, you can follow the steps below:

  • Draft each plan’s objectives
  • Determine training methods and content
  • Choose the trainers and/or training tools
  • Establish an evaluation system
  • Design training calendars

3. Share the plan

Communicate the strategy across the organization and empower people to become ambassadors for the programs. Widespread recognition of training opportunities and transparency around their processes and accessibility criteria is crucial to their success.

When conveying information, always underscore the importance of continuous training and describe the positive outcomes that are expected throughout the organization.

Another important point that should always be communicated is the company’s support of the initiative. Explicit buy-in from company leaders can greatly boost the success of these programs.

4. Measure and optimize the training plan

Monitoring the progress and advancement of employees who have successfully completed upskilling or reskilling programs is the next step. Measurements should be based on objective KPIs and metrics.

This way, areas for improvement can be highlighted and growth opportunities can promptly be leveraged.

5. Assign new responsibilities or redeploy

Once the process is successfully implemented and new skills are being developed and honed, you can start assigning new responsibilities and challenges to your workforce, or redeploy them to new jobs depending on the objectives you have worked on in this training plan.

Looking to grow your workforce in addition to optimizing it? Discover how global hiring can help you access a worldwide talent pool of high-performers.

Download the guide

Build a winning workforce with Deel

Promoting the growth and development of your workers is key to taking your organization to the next level and ensuring you have a stable and motivated workforce that will meet and exceed your business objectives. But it’s not the only ingredient to success.

To achieve the best results you must also offer your workers tools that allow them to limit operative tasks to focus their efforts on strategic matters. New technologies are quickly shaping the way successful companies operate, and Deel is at the core of this digital transformation of the workplace.

From relocation support to aid you in deploying your resources wherever they are needed, or want to be, to a full HR suite designed to boost the effectiveness of your human resources management, we offer a range of different solutions to ensure the success of your people management.

Discover the full range of Deel products and solutions, and take a look at the Deel blog to learn more about all topics relating to the future of work and modern trends like remote work and automation.

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