Reskilling: Once Just a Trending Topic, Now a Global Workforce Imperative


As we enter a new world of work, “reskilling” has gone from being a trending workplace topic to a full-fledged organizational challenge for companies everywhere.

The “Reskilling Revolution“, as the World Economic Forum (WEF) calls it, “aims to future-proof workers from technological change and helps economies by providing new skills for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

Although reskilling — defined as “the process of learning new skills so you can do a different job, or of training people to do a different job” by the Cambridge English Dictionary — sounds simple enough, companies and organizations around the world are struggling to deal with the issue.

Fuel50’s Career Agility & Engagement Research found that a whopping 81% of employees feel their skills aren’t being fully utilized at work by their organization, and they say they’re highly motivated to contribute beyond their current role.

Similarly, Mercer’s Global Talent Trends Report recently highlighted, “Executives believe that 45% of the workforce can adapt to the new world of work, while 78% of employees say they are ready to reskill.”

According to the Harvard Business Review, the current breakdown is uneven, at a time when the need for such investment is greatest:

“Employees have demonstrated their willingness and interest; online courses have reported a massive surge of demand since the pandemic. On the employer side, while some companies are leading the way, Deloitte reports that only 17% of companies have made “meaningful investments” in reskilling initiatives. Particularly as we respond to the long-term effects of the pandemic, more must be done to coordinate and increase these investments.”

The looming challenge

Continuous growth and training are vital to workforce agility and workforce development. And since we’re at a time right now where we all need to be agile not only to survive but thrive, the challenge for organizations is clear, as detailed by the Harvard Business Review:

“Companies need to build the next new professional corporate function: reskilling. This capability needs to be elevated and institutionalized like finance, marketing, and risk before it. Many organizations need to add full-fledged systems for continuous learning through teaching, training, and assessing — and they need to do it more effectively and on a larger scale than they have ever attempted before.”

If it sounds like a huge undertaking, it is, especially since so many organizations have cut back on corporate training budgets during the pandemic. But increasing spending to reskill your staff is still a better option than the costly alternative – having to recruit and hire new employees with the skill set your organization needs and desires.

That leaves employers with a critically urgent task: investing in reskilling their current workforce. But for many companies, they aren’t sure where to start and what to do.

Reskilling Fuel50

6 steps to consider

McKinsey recently made the case for investing in building workforce skills now. They highlight the following six steps to reskilling:

  1. Rapidly identify the skills your recovery business model depends on. From McKinsey: “Specify the quantity and type of people you need. For example, if you are moving from in-store sales to predominately home deliveries, your tech team and logistics coordinators will have a greater impact on the new strategy than they did on the old one. They may also need a different skill set to facilitate the increase in demand and customer expectations.”
  2. Build employee skills critical to your new business model. From McKinsey: ” Start upskilling the critical workforce pools that will drive a disproportionate amount of value in your adjusted business model. The first step is to build a no-regrets skill set—a tool kit that will be useful no matter how an employee’s specific role may evolve.”
  3. Launch tailored learning journeys to close critical skill gaps. From McKinsey: ” As companies prepare to reimagine and ramp up their business models, it is important to go deeper on strategic workforce planning. Leaders need a detailed view not only of the core activities that critical groups will begin undertaking in the next 12 to 18 months but also of which skills each of these groups will need.”
  4. Start now, test rapidly, and iterate. From McKinsey: “Organizations shouldn’t launch reskilling initiatives and then disband them after the crisis passes; whatever talent reskilling or redeployment you do now should also be used to expand your reskilling capabilities going forward.”
  5. Act like a small company to have a big impact. From McKinsey: “Smaller companies tend to have a clearer view of their skill deficiencies, so they’re better at prioritizing the gaps they need to address and at selecting the right candidates for reskilling. That’s not to say larger organizations can’t be agile when it comes to reskilling, just that it can be harder for them.”
  6. Protect learning budgets (or regret it later). From McKinsey: “Companies should not cut their employee-training budgets. According to the Training Industry Report, US data during and after the Great Recession showed a significant drop in overall training expenditures in 2009 and 2010, followed by a surge in 2011 and a drop back to 2008 levels in 2012. What this tells us is that if companies cut their learning budgets now, they’re only delaying their investment, not netting a saving—especially since the current crisis will require a larger skill shift than the 2008 financial crisis did.”

When reskilling becomes a priority, there is more opportunity for internal talent mobility and workforce agility within an organization. In addition, it helps build your employer brand and sends a strong message that you really DO put your employees first.

Ready to get started? Fuel50 can help

Contact us today to discover how Fuel50 can help with reskilling.



The 2020 talent experience is being reinvented every single day. That is why Fuel50 has dug into the Five (5) “R’s” of the rapidly changing talent experience to help you better understand not only what you are facing but how to deal with it.

These 5 “R’s” are: Reskilling; Restructuring; Re-engineering; Reform; and, Robots (aka Artificial Intelligence, or AI).

Smart, forward-thinking companies know that focusing on the employee experience will matter even more in a post-Pandemic world. We hope these 5 “R’s” will give you more insight on how to do that.

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