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Hiring a bulk of new external employees to fill skill gaps is costly and time consuming, especially when it comes to emerging tech and digital roles.

So what’s the best way to get workers with the technical skills you need while keeping everyone happy and not breaking the bank? Upskill your current employees.

If you don’t already have training as a part of your company culture, establishing an upskill strategy may sound a little intimidating. Have no fear. A recent PwC study shows that despite challenges like management buy-in, employee engagement and budgetary approvals, over 70% of employees typically want to upskill, either to be more innovative at work or increase their status. 

Giving the people what they want — opportunities to upskill on the job (and better yet, letting them lead the way) — is the key to a successful enterprise upskill strategy. 

Here are five strategies for leading an enterprise upskill  for your team.

1. Identify the Skills Your Company is Lacking and Offer Employee Training

Determining your organization’s business goals and identifying the technologies can help maintain its competitive edge is integral to leading an upskilling effort. 

If your company could benefit from a resident machine learning expert or from a data science wiz, engage your existing employee base and offer them machine learning and data analysis training to close your organization’s skills gap.

Odds are, not all of your employees will be interested in upskilling, and that’s okay. 

A recent PwC study found that  34%  of employees will be excited to learn new skills that will increase efficiency and teamwork. And an additional 37% will be interested in upskilling to get a promotion or pay increase. Meet this 71% of your workforce halfway and ask them what they want to learn.

Go directly to the source and send out a survey to find out what your employees are actually interested in learning. You can give them a few areas of focus, like digital marketing or cloud computing, but be open to suggestions. After all, the best innovation is done without restrictive bounds. 

2. Look for Experts Already Within Your Workforce

Sometimes, your employees can provide a cache of in-house experts to help reskill the workforce. People who are passionate about what they do tend to work on side projects and upskill in their free time with online classes and books.

If you need someone who understands hybrid cloud technology, put out a call to your employees and see if anyone knows. Even if they have only dipped their toes into the subject, that small amount of interest means they might be the perfect candidate to lead the way to training the rest of your team.

3. Develop a Culture of Mentorship

Not only should continued learning be a core tenet of your company, but mentorship should also be included with it. People tend to learn new skills when they have a mentor to guide them. Mentors can be employees who are slightly more skilled, or a level or two ahead.

Get your mentorship program off the ground by first selecting Internal Mentors who can support their colleagues on their learning journey and help them apply their newly acquired skills to their roles. 

Once you have your Internal Mentors leading the charge, you can build a successful mentor program via activities like project labs, mentor office hours, check-in sessions, professional development action plans and study jams to name a few.

Additionally, the best way for new skills to actually sink in is to teach them to someone else, which is also known as the “protégé effect.” Therefore, having a strong culture of mentorship at your company not only encourages growth for the mentees, it also reinforces the skills of the mentor.

4. Encourage Participation in Online Learning

Online learning is a self-paced, cost-effective and efficient way to upskill your team. According to a Workplace Learning Report from LinkedIn, well over half of the employees interviewed said they preferred to learn at their own pace, instead of in a traditional classroom. 

Udacity, for example, works with top-tier tech companies like Amazon, Google and AT&T to deliver high-quality, cutting-edge content that is applicable to the real world. 

At Udacity, all enterprise curriculum starts with business goals. Custom learning paths are then designed to upskill employees for future roles and personalized support is offered throughout the program to ensure alignment with those goals. 

Plus, every program includes projects based on actual data that leaves graduates with a thorough understanding of how to apply their new skills to their jobs.

5. Reward Real-world Applications

A great way to keep the cycle of learning (and applying those learnings) going is to reward any real-world applications of upskilling. For instance, a marketer who learns about social media marketing strategies and uses those skills to gain new followers, resulting in more sales, is a huge win! 

That person should be recognized for the work they did, not only to acknowledge their great work, but also to inspire others to upskill as well. Plus, a monetary benefit doesn’t hurt either.

Part of rewarding real-world applications is allowing room for trial and error. Your employees must be given the space and freedom to apply what they learned. Sometimes it might not work out all the way, and that’s okay. Those “failures” are really just steps on the road to success.

Upskilling Your Workforce with Udacity

If an upskill movement sounds like a net positive for your company, then  there’s no time to waste! Organizations who upskill their employees are the best suited to stay competitive and have high rates of employee satisfaction.

Udacity is a great resource for upskilling teams, with everything from custom-designed programs to real-world capstone projects. Contact our Enterprise team to start organizing your upskill strategies today.

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Jennifer Shalamanov
Jennifer Shalamanov
Jennifer is a content writer at Udacity with over 10 years of content creation and marketing communications experience in the tech, e-commerce and online learning spaces. When she’s not working to inform, engage and inspire readers, she’s probably drinking too many lattes and scouring fashion blogs.