Upskilling: A Must For SME Businesses In India.

Workforce upskilling has become a buzzword in the current job market. With technological advancements and ever-changing business needs, the workforce must stay relevant to be successful.

In our view, upskilling is even more important from the perspective of SME businesses. Because the employees are often not professionally educated or trained for their job roles. Many junior employees take on bigger responsibilities, as senior people are not affordable.

In such scenarios, upskilling can be a good way to remain competitive.

Definition of upskilling and its importance for SME businesses.

Upskilling is the process of enhancing the skills and knowledge of employees in their current roles.

It focuses on providing continuous learning opportunities to the workforce, to keep up with the ever-changing demands from clients and the market.

Upskilling involves advancing the existing expertise of employees to fill skill gaps and improve performance.

· For example, digitalization has changed the expectations of clients a lot. They want quick service response, through client portals, or virtual meetings. Customer service executives need to hone their communication skills for online media. ​​​​​​​

· Another example: The level of visual presentation is going up in business proposals and pictures. This means salespeople must learn to use online designing software like Canva. The use of CRM solutions is also a must. Salespeople must learn to use these platforms effectively to remain competitive in the marketplace.

· The same goes for new upcoming technology features for engineers, emerging workplace concepts for HR, and the use of financial analytics for accounting teams.

So, the upskilling is important for remaining competitive in the business.

It also helps in employee retention. It boosts morale, promotes career growth, and positions employees for internal advancement.

Furthermore, it is a cost-effective alternative to hiring and training new employees, as it saves time, money, and resources.

Therefore, SME businesses must recognize the benefits of investing in employee training and development as a means of staying competitive in the modern job market.

There is another term often used: Reskilling. It is important to understand the difference between the two.

The difference between reskilling and upskilling

Reskilling and upskilling are two distinct concepts that shouldn’t be confused with one another.

Reskilling refers to teaching an employee new skills for an entirely different job function. But upskilling aims to expand on a worker’s existing set of skills and make them versatile in their current role.

Upskilling is a valuable investment for both employees and employers.

For employees, upskilling leads to improved confidence, enhanced job satisfaction, and a new sense of direction in their career path. They can take on more responsibilities, increase their productivity, and excel in their roles.

For employers, upskilling leads to benefits such as improved retention, increased employee loyalty and motivation, and cost-effective training and development.

  • By upskilling their existing workforce, employers can meet the evolving demands of their businesses and avoid the expenses associated with hiring and training new employees.
  • Upskilling is a cost-effective alternative to hiring and training new employees. While it can be costly to train and upskill employees, it is still more affordable than hiring and training new workers from scratch.

Upskilling improves productivity and employee morale.

By enhancing their skills, employees become more efficient and productive, leading to improved work quality and higher job satisfaction.

When teams have access to learning and development opportunities, they are more engaged and motivated, and their involvement in the organisation’s growth increases. This results in higher morale and improved teamwork.

Upskilling creates a career path for employees in the organisation.

Upskilling not only empowers employees with new skills and knowledge, but it also prepares them for the next level of promotion them. This is a very important factor for them to remain in the organisation and not shift to other companies.

Upskilling is a long-term investment rather than a short-term expense.

Seeing upskilling as a long-term investment rather than a short-term expense is a vital perspective for companies to embrace.

Upskilling is not just about providing training for current employees, but it is also an investment in the future of the organisation. By providing employees with opportunities for professional growth and learning, companies can ensure that they remain productive and competitive.

Companies that understand the importance of upskilling are more likely to attract top talent.

Upskilling is a crucial strategy for achieving long-term success. Especially for SME organisations that are in the growth phase. Upskilling makes the organisation ready to scale up.

Here are some upskilling possibilities for SME organisations.

1. Digital Skills

These skills include proper computer use, learning new software, digital marketing, programming skills, or social media use. If you work in marketing or sales, having knowledge of digital marketing and social media can help you to better understand and target your audience.

2. Analytical Skills

Analytical skills involve the ability to collect, analyze and interpret data. These skills can be applied to a wide range of fields, including marketing, finance, and human resources. For example, employees can learn how to use data analysis tools like Excel, Google Sheets, or APIs to help them make better and faster decisions.

3. Organizational Transformation Skills

Organizational transformation skills are essential for companies undergoing change. All growing SME businesses fall into this category. These skills include change management, project management, and leadership development. A company that invests in these skills ensures that it can handle growth well.

4. Soft Skills

Soft skills are non-technical skills. And include teamwork, communication, leadership, and problem-solving. Very important skills for progressing into a professionally run organisation.

5. Industry-Specific Skills

Industry-specific skills refer to the knowledge and expertise required to work in a particular industry. For example, if you work in healthcare, you may need knowledge of medical terminology or specific regulations. One needs to update the knowledge all the time as the pace of change is fast in all industries.

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