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ATD Blog

Upskilling and Reskilling for the Future of Work

Monday, August 23, 2021

Accelerated digital transformation and changing business conditions have highlighted the need for upskilling and reskilling at all levels. But despite awareness of the need in the C-suite, few organizations have effective strategies to build the critical skills required for the future workforce.

Here, we explore the key skills needed for the future and the obstacles facing organizations as they build the personalized, contextualized learning experiences needed to drive changes in performance. For more information about the state of upskilling and reskilling and six actionable strategies, download Upskilling and Reskilling: Delivering Personalized Learning at Scale, which was produced in partnership with Brandon Hall Group.

According to the 2020 PriceWaterhouseCooper report Upskilling: Building Confidence in an Uncertain World:

  • Seventy-four percent of CEOs are concerned about the availability of key skills.
  • Forty-one percent say that upskilling programs are effective in creating stronger culture.
  • Only 18 percent have made significant progress in upskilling programs that mix soft, technical, and digital skills.

The Future of Skills Is Increasingly Human

While technical and digital skills are important, human skills needed to innovate, learn, and manage stress dominate the top 10 skills for 2025, according to the World Economic Forum:

  • Analytical thinking and innovation
  • Active learning and learning strategies
  • Complex problem-solving
  • Critical thinking and analysis
  • Resilience, stress tolerance, and flexibility
  • Creativity, originality, and initiative
  • Leadership and social influence
  • Reasoning, problem solving, and ideation
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Technology design and programming

Organizations Struggle to Personalize Their Upskilling and Reskilling Strategies

Personalized, contextualized learning experiences are needed to engage learners and drive meaningful impact on behavior and performance. But barriers stand in the way, according to recent research by the Brandon Hall Group.


The top five challenges to personalized learning at scale are:· We (68%) have managers who are not very good coaches and don’t know what their employees are learning.

  • We (60%) do not have the technology ecosystem in place to develop and deliver personalized learning at scale.
  • We (54%) believe it would be too expensive.
  • The organization (54%) believes a one-size-fits-all approach to learning is sufficient.
  • We (48%) believe it would be too difficult to administer and maintain.

Three strategies to upskill and reskill at scale are to:·

  • Establish a bridge between skills and competencies. Skills are developed at the individual level while competencies are agreed upon by the organization.
  • Build your strategy around tools that support skills. Use of technology should focus on experience to be as frictionless as possible.
  • Set clear expectations for leaders and managers. Enable team leads to understand how to assess, coach, and measure skills.
About the Author

Declan Fox is a product marketer at NovoEd with over a decade’s experience bringing learning technology products to market for learners of all ages. He is passionate about using technology to engage learners and provide opportunities for learning and growth.

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