How to Reskill and Upskill Employees in the Age of AI

Jeni_Odley
edited November 2023 in Business

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is changing the world of work as we know it — and fast. New machines and technology can now take over an increasing number of monotonous manual tasks traditionally done by human workers. AI is also increasingly able to handle knowledge-based work like coding, writing, and research. which was long regarded as safe from such disruption. As these shifts continue to cause shockwaves throughout workforces, reskilling employees is no longer a choice — it is a necessity.

What is upskilling and reskilling?

Various companies are already investing in upskilling their workers to adapt to the digital age. In fact, a recent study showed that these investments account for up to 1.5% of an organization’s total budget. However, upskilling alone may not be enough to shield workers from the impact of AI.

The US Chamber of Commerce defines upskilling as teaching employees new information and skills required to help them improve their current job performance. This helps them adapt to change while teaching them how to do their job more efficiently. Upskilling also helps employees understand modern techniques and creates specialized workers. For example, marketing professionals can learn Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to remain competitive in their field.

On the other hand, reskilling refers to learning new skills required to start a new job or function. Reskilling also lets organizations retain important employees even if their department is no longer required. Some skills may overlap, however, workers must acquire new skills to get ahead. For example, employees could earn a degree or certification in a different field.

How has AI changed job roles and which new skills are required?

It is estimated that 70% of companies will have embraced AI and adopted at least one AI-powered technology by 2030. AI is already enhancing existing jobs by removing human errors and improving precision in quality control and data analysis tasks. For example, using AI-assisted healthcare can help professionals make more accurate diagnoses and improve patient outcomes. 

Despite this, it is estimated that advancements in AI technology could mean some of the skills learned in college or university will soon be obsolete. As AI evolves, the need for human skills like critical thinking and problem-solving will increase, and we will likely see demand for a whole new skill set.

Aligning employee skills with evolving industry needs

Employers should encourage employees to align their current skills with evolving industry needs. Not only does this enhance their competitiveness, but also that of the company. Employees with the skills required to face industry changes are vital to overcoming potential challenges and market shifts. It can also help companies better serve customers in the digital age.

What skills do employees need in the age of AI?

Generation Z and beyond are digital natives who have been brought up around technology.  They learn essential computer skills like coding and how to use AI from a young age, which they take with them into the workforce. This means they are automatically far ahead of older colleagues when it comes to using and understanding modern technology thanks to their environment and a more refined and customized education process. Older generations must be adaptable and learn new skills to remain competitive in the job market. Luckily, Acer TravelMate P Series laptops seamlessly support AI-assisted solutions like Microsoft 365 Copilot and Teams to help ease the transition into using AI. 

Alongside technical skills and data literacy, employees should consider the tasks that robots or computers cannot do well. For example, skills like creativity are difficult for technology to mimic without sounding robotic, which is where human emotions and our ability to invent, imagine, and dream come in. Critical thinking is crucial as we can analyze the pros and cons and imagine real-life outcomes better than machines. Humans can also solve complex problems through logic and reasoning and consider how certain decisions impact other humans. 

Machines have little or no emotional intelligence and cannot empathize with others’ feelings. Although machine learning helps AI-powered chatbots improve their responses, they will never be able to understand and value real human connections as we do. Humans communicate through body language and other mannerisms that are hard for machines to replicate. Therefore, improving interpersonal skills is also beneficial for workers looking to adapt to current industry conditions.

How to reskill and upskill employees

With rapidly evolving AI and technological advances, it can be challenging for managers to know where to begin reskilling and upskilling employees. Instead of resisting change, it is beneficial for companies to lean into and embrace it. Here are some tips to help do just that.

Step 1: Determine which skills need more focus

Identifying bottlenecks or issues that impact the flow of internal operations provides valuable insight into skill gaps. Doing so helps allocate resources and investments to the departments and areas that need them most. Moreover, managers should assess company goals and train employees to reflect them. 

Step 2: Create a list of reskilling criteria

Managers should take time to analyze the company’s future and what they aim to achieve for survival and growth. Assessing current performance, future goals, and objectives while considering current workforce capabilities can provide valuable insight into reskilling criteria.

Step 3: Identify individual employee skill gaps

Employees should be free to decide which career development opportunities are important to them. Initiating open discussions about their career and life goals may provide food for thought regarding skill gaps. By asking the right questions, communicating clearly, and providing steps toward growth, managers can help employees reskill and protect themselves from industry changes.

Step 4: Select a training style for reskilling and upskilling workers

People learn in different ways, and managers should offer reskilling and upskilling opportunities to reflect this. Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, offering a range of training methods like presentations, hands-on workshops, simulations or games, or instructor-led courses may be more suitable. This approach also empowers employees to make their own decisions about their learning, helping them feel supported in their progress. Offering rewards or recognition for upskilling or reskilling efforts may also motivate employees to participate.

Step 5: Discuss reskilling and upskilling with employees

Talks of global job cuts and AI taking over roles can be scary for employees. Managers should reassure workers and help them navigate these uncertain times by offering support. By discussing reskilling and upskilling opportunities, managers can reach out to employees and listen to their concerns. It will also help employers decide which kind of training opportunities are most suited to their workforce.

Step 6: Develop a reskilling and upskilling program

Developing and implementing a reskilling and upskilling program should be beneficial and empower employees. Once training courses are over, managers should collect feedback to ensure it reaches the intended learning outcomes. Moreover, managers should understand that reskilling and upskilling is a journey, not a destination. Courses and training content should be refined and redefined as technology develops and employees become more skilled. This also helps create a resilient workforce that does not waver when faced with change.

Conclusion

Upskilling involves teaching employees new skills to advance in their current role, whereas reskilling prepares them for a new role. As technology advances, so should workforce skills, and both upskilling and reskilling are crucial for navigating AI transformations. Employers can support the transition by encouraging employees to learn new digital skills to keep competitive in the workplace. Bosses should identify areas for improvement and implement a strategy designed to upskill or reskill their workforce. Doing so will be beneficial as technology continues to improve, and devices like Acer TravelMate P Series laptops, packed with AI-assisted productivity features, that companies would desire and enable their employees to navigate and excel in this new AI-focused era right away.

Jeni is a translator and writer based in Taiwan. She is passionate about business development and loves helping companies enter international markets. She is fluent in English, German, and Mandarin Chinese, and combines these with her industry experience to provide practical market entry solutions.

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