Upskilling is good because learning, generally, is good. But in business, we’re often asked to tie our upskilling strategy to the bottom line.
The best way to prove the value of an upskilling program is to prove its effectiveness. Data should inform your company’s upskilling strategy from the outset. This enables you to tie learning back to business outcomes and revenue. Simultaneously, you can offer employees a perk—and even increase employee retention.
In this article, we’ll discuss how you can use data to inform your company’s upskilling strategy.
Use Data To Launch an Effective Upskilling Program
When it comes to upskilling, some companies opt to give their employees access to a wide range of courses and programs. But for others, such a flexible approach may not be the most effective one.
The right data can help your organization identify specific areas that need improvement. From there, you can create a more concrete plan to address gaps.
Understand Your Organization’s Future Skill Needs
Before you head down a certain path, you need to understand your company’s destination.
Planning for the skills of the future is challenging, especially as the shelf life of skills gets shorter and the need for pivoting increases. But understanding the trends that are impacting your industry can help you make an educated decision on where to focus your efforts.
Use research from analysts, studies by academics and your own internal findings to create a list of skills you’ll need in the near- and mid-term future. For example, if you work in the construction industry, you might need to focus on improving your organization’s project management skills. If you work in retail, you might want to focus on improving employees’ digital skills.
It’s nearly impossible to predict every challenge that your industry is going to face. New threats and innovations pop up all the time. But based on the data you gather in this step, you can make calculated decisions about where your organization needs to steer.
Identify Areas Your Company Needs To Strengthen
Of the skills you’ve listed that will be important in the coming years, identify areas in which your company is weakest. This can be done using several tactics:
- Ask employees to anonymously self-report on their perceived areas of improvement.
- Conduct a skills gap analysis using data from previous performance reviews and manager interviews.
- Talk to current leaders about the areas they perceive as weaknesses or gaps on their teams.
Use that information to develop a skills matrix, comparing the most important future skills to the ones that need the most attention. Then plan to address the areas with the biggest gaps between importance and skill.
Harnessing Data To Measure Progress
It’s hard to gauge your success if you don’t gather concrete information about where you first started from. From there, you’ll need to set data-based goals to strive toward. Finally, you’ll need to be able to measure data to determine whether or not you’ve reached those goals.
Put simply, you need data to determine how successful your upskilling program is. Here are some tips to help you put data to work for you.
Use the Right Platform
Some companies opt for the good ol’ spreadsheet to keep track of their upskilling programs. While that can work for small and early-stage programs, it’s not effective for larger companies or for those serious about harnessing data to fill their skills gaps.
By choosing the right platform to work with from the outset, you can make data-informed decisions from the start, setting you on the right track earlier and reducing the amount you need to pivot. Select a platform that enables you to see learner engagement, total investment and demand for skills at a glance, all in one place.
Focus on the Right Data
Avoid vanity metrics that appear good but don’t drive results.
For example, the number of people who have taken a professional development course might give you a sense of its overall popularity. Sometimes that metric can be important, especially if the organization’s overarching goal is to encourage people to upskill in general. But if your goal is to improve your organization’s cybersecurity skills, the number of people who take all courses is far less important to measure than the number of people who take cybersecurity courses specifically and do well in them.
Based on your goals, you can set key performance indicators (KPIs) that can help you understand your progress. The metrics that drive those results are important; all the others are vanity metrics.
Discover Everything You Need To Know About Upskilling
Whether you’re launching a new upskilling program or optimizing an existing one, we’ve got you covered. Read our in-depth article, Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Upskilling, to learn about:
- the difference between upskilling and reskilling
- the widening skills gap
- how to upskill employees
- why now is the time to invest in upskilling
Chase Banger is a Content Marketing Specialist at D2L. An award-winning journalist and former communications specialist, he has a passion for helping people through education.
Stay in the know
Educators and training pros get our insights, tips, and best practices delivered monthly