Technology is constantly developing, reshaping how we live and work. As digitalization increases, the amount of qualified people with the right skills for the job is declining — it’s known as the digital skills gap.
Organizations are left with a choice on how to fill the gap; recruit specialists, who may be hard to come by and expensive to hire, or upskill current employees through digital upskilling programs. There are many benefits to this, as it allows organizations to provide relevant training to meet their needs and motivate employees.
In this blog, we’ll take you through the different types of digital upskilling programs, the benefits and drawbacks of each and how to decide which option is right for you.
Digital upskilling programs — what options are available?
So, you’ve decided that digital upskilling is something you need to invest in for the future of your workforce and organizational success. There are many different routes you can take — we’ll break them down in more detail.
An in-house learning and development program.
A learning and development (L&D) program is potentially the most obvious route to take. An L&D platform consists of an overall strategy and objectives, with the content and training to meet these goals. It also needs to feature monitoring and evaluation to determine whether the intended outcome is achieved.
If you have a highly skilled L&D team, this could be the option for you. It allows you to tailor your L&D strategy and content in a way that suits your organization's goals and enables employees to action their learnings in a real-life setting.
But creating a comprehensive, in-depth L&D program that delivers results is no easy task. You’ll need professionals experienced in devising an L&D program, specialists to create engaging, valuable content and the digital capabilities to create an effective learning management system (LMS). Sounds like a lot? There’s a solution to that…
Work with external specialists.
There’s always the option of working with a digital skills provider specializing in their field. If you don’t have the capacity, expertise or digital knowledge to upskill your employees in-house, this can be a valuable opportunity to get the results you need.
Working with an external provider can have a range of benefits. These will vary depending on the provider you choose to work with, but here’s a taste of what they can offer:
- A process that keeps your organizational needs and objectives front and center.
- Create a tailored program and platform that works for you.
- High-quality content that keeps learners engaged, embeds knowledge and is actionable in day-to-day settings.
- Extensive syllabus breadth and depth, covering all the areas of digital skills you need.
- Measurable results and reporting that help you prove the impact.
While working with an external specialist may be more expensive than an in-house digital upskilling program, it’ll save you time, ensure your employees receive top quality learning and, most importantly, achieve results that help your organization succeed in the future.
Job rotation is where employees undertake different roles within an organization with the intention of learning new skills. In terms of digital upskilling, employees could take on roles within digital teams to learn from peers and develop their digital knowledge.
Job rotation busts boredom and provides employees with a chance to learn new skills. Considering 94% of employees would stay with an employer for longer if it invested in their learning development, job rotation could be a win-win situation for all involved.
Although it can be an effective way of digital upskilling in-house, moving an employee into another role leaves you with a gap to fill. It could also lead to lower work quality while an employee gets to grips with their new role.
Mentoring programs have been a popular method of training for decades. In fact, 67% of businesses reported an increase in productivity due to mentoring and 55% stated it had a positive impact on their profits.
Mentoring programs can be successful, particularly if other employees already possess the skills needed within your organization. It’s also one of the cheaper methods of digital upskilling, as it doesn’t require an external provider and can be actioned during work hours.
But that doesn’t mean mentoring doesn’t have its drawbacks. A successful mentoring program takes time and effort, both from your learning and development team and the employees involved.
These challenges could be overcome by trying out blended learning. Employees can use a mix of online educational materials and in-person learning, giving them both theoretical and practical experience.
Finding the most suitable option for you.
We’ve given you an outline of some of the digital upskilling options available; now it’s time to find the one that works best for you.
First up, it’ll be worth completing a skills gap analysis to identify where exactly the gaps are and the skills you need to deliver to improve. Then, you should outline what you’re trying to achieve with your digital upskilling program. Without these goals, you’ll never know if the process is succeeding and whether it has been worthwhile.
Next, you need to consider what you have the time, budget, understanding and scope for. As we’ve already discussed, in-house options such as mentoring and job rotation may be cheaper, but do you have the time and possess the appropriate knowledge for these programs to be successful?
Working with an external provider can take out a lot of the risk and hassle.
Choosing the right provider for you.
If you’ve decided that working with an external provider is best for you, you’ll want to find a partner that’ll help upskill your employees and meet your overall goals.
There are many options available, all with different processes. Some will be in-depth, cater to your exact needs and become a seamless part of your organization, while others will have thousands of lesson options to choose from.
It’s worth understanding each provider's pros and cons and seeing how they align with your learning and development objectives. Need some help with that? You’ve come to the right place.