2020 has been a tumultuous year, to say the least. 

We’ve all had a lot on our plate this year. Whether you’ve adapted to a new work-from-home environment, or even had to start a new profession entirely, most of our realities resemble a new kind of normal. 

But one thing’s clear — business priorities are changing. Digital transformation processes are producing new technologies at incredible speed. Enterprises are increasingly using AI and automation, making way for a new era of working. To preempt the need for more advanced digital skill sets, global companies are making upskilling a priority.

Many businesses quickly embraced remote working at the start of the pandemic. And, out of necessity, this has accelerated the development of e-Learning technologies. Considering that 56 percent of enterprises believe they have a moderate to severe skill gap, it has never been more important for global organizations to promote upskilling — at scale.

But before we dive into the details, let’s clarify the difference between upskilling and reskilling.  Then, we’ll uncover why remote work has such a large impact on e-Learning technologies.

The pandemic didn’t only affect classrooms in schools

More and more workplace learning is taking place online. The pandemic has made video calls the norm, and as online collaboration tools and cloud computing advance, e-Learning is becoming more accessible for companies. To tell you the truth, it’s become a priority. 

Turns out, remote working is more efficient than we initially thought. And it’s here to stay. Companies like Google and Microsoft have pledged to extend their remote work policies post-pandemic. So it’s becoming increasingly important that employees feel self-sufficient. It’s also prompted global companies to maximize the effectiveness of their e-Learning content and platforms. 

The pandemic has also accelerated the need to address the skills gap. 60 percent of employees think, to some extent, that their current skills will become outdated in the next three to five years. Companies are being forced to strategize about how they can build and maintain an agile, engaged, and future-proof workforce. 

And that brings us to upskilling — not to be confused with reskilling:

  • Upskilling is the process of teaching an employee new additional skills.
  • Reskilling is the process of teaching a person new skills for a change in occupation.

The skills gap requires both upskilling and reskilling — and e-Learning technologies support both processes. 

But why do companies want to upskill their employees? Or reskill others?

With a greater than ever need for technical skills, and qualified workers in short supply, upskilling is critical to the health and growth of your enterprise. An upskilling initiative is about more than building a better brand reputation (although that’ll happen too). It’s about helping employees qualify for more in-demand positions. 

By 2030, McKinsey estimates that automation will replace 14 percent of the jobs in the global workforce. This isn’t to say that new jobs won’t be created — but they’ll require specific skills and training. And considering the trend toward remote working, e-Learning solutions are the most logical solution to keeping people employed.

What’s more, 79 percent of CEOs are either extremely or somewhat concerned about the workplace skills gap. So, to prepare the workforce of tomorrow, global companies need scalable solutions. For now, upskilling efforts will be focused on successful remote work. But many organizations are aware of their responsibility over long-term reskilling efforts, and know they need a more holistic approach. 

Empathy Guide

Upskilling as a Competitive Advantage

Upskilling and reskilling initiatives are an opportunity to prepare your business for the future. In today’s digital world, employees have to be comfortable using cutting edge technologies. If not, it’s much harder for your enterprise to compete in the marketplace. 

And from a business perspective, upskilling makes a lot of sense. Hiring a new employee can cost six times more than reskilling a current employee. Not only does upskilling create cross-functional teams, it also reduces hiring costs.

Here’s a list of ideas for how you can incorporate upskilling initiatives into your business:

  • Lunch-and-Learn sessions. Informative lunchtime classes can occur in person and virtually, via multiple formats (such as online tutorials, e-Learning exercises, live lectures, and seminars).
  • Virtual learning courses. Make sure your employees can access online training for relevant technical certifications and establish internal e-Learning tutorials.
  • Platforms for self-enablement. Poise your employees for success by giving them access to digital tools that enhance their abilities (such as content improvement solutions).
  • Microlearning. Use e-Learning platforms to give employees quick learning bursts on specific topics. 
  • Career training programs. Be invested in the development of your employees. Think about offering mentoring and apprenticeship programs. 

e-Learning technologies will be a permanent feature of the future workplace

There are many benefits to upskilling. For example, by upskilling a current employee, your enterprise avoids the risk and costs associated with hiring an unknown candidate. You also increase your likelihood of strong employee retention. 

Regardless, by 2022, the World Economic Forum estimates that 54 percent of employees will need reskilling or upskilling. The rapid evolution of new technologies means that upskilling and reskilling through e-Learning are only going to get more relevant as time goes on. People will always need better digital skills. This isn’t going to be a one-off initiative, but something enterprises have to embed into their C-Level strategy and maintain.

59 percent of Millennials say opportunities to learn and grow are extremely important to them when applying for a job. Here are some other reasons why so many global companies choose upskilling initiatives:

  • Keep your employees up-to-date with the constant development of new technologies. 
  • Encourage inclusion by providing opportunities to previously under-represented groups. 
  • Reap the benefits of employees who are better (and more motivated) at their jobs and more likely to remain with your enterprise.
  • Promote the intent of your brand. Upskilling initiatives show that you care about your community and are responsive to the changing expectations of your employees.
  • Improve your overall business performance. e-Learning technologies have great ROI as it’s often cheaper to upskill an employee than hire a new one.

And to some extent, upskilling and reskilling are part of employer social responsibility. In a digital world, technology is how we collaborate and innovate. The predominant role of AI and automation has increased pressure on enterprises to keep employees technologically up to date. 

So, which companies have upskilling or reskilling initiatives?

Pioneer companies are aware of the changing technological demands of the workplace. And they’re willing to do something about it. But not just for their workforce — for the global workforce of tomorrow. 

Here’s how some Acrolinx customers plan to empower their teams:

Microsoft

In June 2020, Microsoft announced the launch of their global skills initiative aimed at improving the digital skills of 25 million people worldwide by the end of the year. Combining resources from LinkedIn, GitHub, and Microsoft, the initiative will use data to identify in-demand jobs and the skills needed to fill them. It will also provide free access to learning paths and content, as well as low-cost certifications and free job-seeking tools.

Microsoft’s data shows that an expected two years worth of digital transformation has been concentrated into June and July of 2020. In response, Microsoft has built and implemented a technology-driven upskilling initiative, focused on making the needed digital skills more accessible to future workers. 

Amazon

Amazon recognizes the changing workforce. In October, the company announced it would be dedicating $700 million to provide 100,000 employees access to upskilling training programs. Over the next six years Amazon will help roughly a third of their U.S. workforce gain the technical skills needed to qualify for in-demand jobs. 

Amazon believes they have an important role in providing access to the education and training needed to grow their employees’ careers: 

For us, creating these opportunities is just the beginning. While many of our employees want to build their careers here, for others it might be a stepping stone to different aspirations. We think it’s important to invest in our employees to help them gain new skills and create more professional options for themselves.” 

Beth Galetti, Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Amazon 

Salesforce

Last year, Salesforce announced that it signed the White House Pledge to America’s Workers. Salesforce pledged to give 500,000 Americans the skills they need to earn Salesforce credentials. And, position them to get top jobs in the Salesforce ecosystem over the next five years. 

Trailhead — Salesforce’s free online e-Learning platform is making this reskilling initiative happen. Through Trailhead, anyone can acquire the in-demand tech skills needed for the jobs of tomorrow. If you want to learn more, here’s one of Salesforce’s upskilling success stories.

Salesforce’s reskilling initiative will generate an estimated 3.3 million new jobs, both internally and through its ecosystem of partners and customers. Salesforce believes that as we look to the economy of the future, we must bring along the workforce of today.

Self-enablement and e-Learning technologies

The greatest benefit of upskilling and reskilling is the professional empowerment it provides for employees. And in a digital world, enabling yourself to learn and adapt to new technologies is a must. 

What’s more, with the rapid development of new technologies, e-Learning content has to be produced quickly and at scale. So, when it comes to creating content to fuel your e-Learning platforms, we recommend you follow these three principles:

  1. Clarity. As you’re teaching someone a new skill, make sure your content is clear and understandable for all of its readers. 
  2. Consistency. No matter who’s reading your content, all readers should take away the same message. 
  3. Accessibility. It’s vital you use inclusive and empathetic content when you’re communicating with your employees, customers, and partners.

Even before the pandemic, virtual training was seen as the best solution to minimize disruption, by allowing employees to sign in at their own convenience. But the time spent still needs to be effective and the knowledge retained — which means it’s vital that your e-Learning content is accessible, clear, and findable.

And it’s not just about remote working — many companies have employees all over the world. Which means e-Learning content needs to move beyond translation to localization. Phrases and terms might mean different things in different places. Enterprises have to meet the needs of a multinational workforce, as well as maintain effectiveness and inclusivity across all training programs.

But what if you could use the same technology-driven solution to improve the content that fuels your e-Learning platforms and enable your employees to write better content, faster?

The Content Improvement Solution

You face many challenges as a global enterprise. But enabling your employees to create content that meets your brand guidelines and is clear, concise, and consistent on the first draft, shouldn’t be one of them. 

As much as Acrolinx can help improve your e-Learning content, it can also help your employees. You likely produce a lot of content, whether it’s customer-facing or internal. From content marketing and support articles, to technical documentation and website copy, it all needs to be expressed consistently in your brand’s voice. 

Acrolinx gives you the power to manage terminology across your enterprise: you can set up preferred names and legal terminology, or highlight those to avoid. Not only can Acrolinx help make sure your e-Learning content is clear and consistent, it can also guide your employees to do the same with whatever content they’re writing.

The Acrolinx Sidebar gives your writers immediate feedback on the clarity and style of their writing, making sure it’s aligned to your brand. This means large teams, with different language skills, across different locations, can be guided to meet your content goals. 

Regardless of whether you’re writing in your native language or not, Acrolinx reduces the legal risk associated with non-compliant or poorly crafted content. It’s a safety net against mistakes — but at scale.

Acrolinx learns how your enterprise writes and captures your content standards and brand voice so they’re actionable across your workflow. Automation carries the burden of time-consuming editing for quality control, and integrates into your content workflow to deliver automatic alignment. If you want to know how Acrolinx can help your upskilling initiative, let’s talk.