What Is Upskilling?
With upskilling, employees gain additional training and skills so that they can better fulfill their current responsibilities. A staff member who currently works on event planning, for example, might be trained in event management software, helping them optimize their performance.
That’s not to be confused with reskilling, which is when employees learn an entirely new skill set that enables them to take on a different role. For example, if an employee’s job description is to run a mentorship program that the nonprofit then decides to eliminate, that employee could be reskilled in, say, fundraising — an entirely new role.
“You see more conversation now around skills being the currency for growth, so you can progress in a career not because of arbitrary hurdles,” Jacqui Canney, chief people officer of IT service management platform ServiceNow, told BizTech magazine earlier this year.
Given that nearly three-quarters of nonprofits have undergone or are in the middle of a digital transformation, according to the Nonprofit Technology Network, tech upskilling becomes a key component of how nonprofits can continue to fulfill their missions. The same survey reports that 65 percent of nonprofits are training existing employees in digital skills.
Why Upskill Employees?
In the big picture, upskilling benefits employees by providing professional development, and it benefits the organization by incorporating an expanded skill set without needing to recruit new staff. Research indicates that one-third of the job skills that will be considered essential in 2025 are not yet regarded as crucial by organizations, demonstrating the need to invest in upskilling to stay competitive.
When employees have skills they believe are scarce, they become more invested and engaged in their organization. According to research from PwC, compared with employees who don’t consider their skills in demand, these workers are 17 percent likelier to feel satisfied with their job and 25 percent likelier to feel that their manager listens to them. Similarly, a 2021 Gallup poll shows that 71 percent of people who have received upskilling report that their overall job satisfaction has increased.
With tech upskilling in particular, employees who are not in IT services become more invested in agile technology at every level of an organization. While tech teams that actually conduct the training start out as the experts in the target technology, on-the-ground workers are the ones with the application insights that reveal how they can deploy the technology to help nonprofits better achieve their mission.