Upskilling and reskilling: Know the difference and boost your team’s learning


Technologies that help companies to automate tasks and optimize processes, such as artificial intelligence, are becoming increasingly important in the modern business world. Despite this, the job market is facing a shortage of professionals trained in these key emerging disciplines. This is a common problem when it comes to adapting to new technologies, posing a significant challenge for companies that need to stay ahead in a competitive environment.

In short, companies run the risk of having a big professional deficit when they attempt to fill positions that require the latest skills. This in turn leads to a stark choice – organizations both large and small either need to update their workforces through training, or face becoming obsolete. And it’s precisely for this reason that upskilling and reskilling are so important.

What are upskilling and reskilling?

The terms reskilling and upskilling refer to corporate strategies that focus on the development of new skills, or the improvement of existing ones. These allow companies and employees to remain competitive and relevant within a constantly evolving labor market. Both reskilling and upskilling not only give companies the chance to fill talent gaps, but also help to foster a work environment that values growth and development.

Reskilling seeks to train employees in completely new skills, updating their professional profiles so they can adapt to new positions inside the company. This strategy enhances an employee’s overall competence by making them more versatile, and is crucial in helping them stay both relevant and employable in the face of change.

Upskilling, on the other hand, is the process through which an employee improves skills that they already possess. This strategy seeks to strengthen and update their competencies, ensuring that workers can keep up with technological advances, new trends, and changing demands. It is, essentially, an ongoing professional development approach that helps people to advance their careers.

What is the difference between upskilling and reskilling?

The main difference between these two strategies lies in the purpose of the training, in which reskilling opens up opportunities to change jobs and job functions or even to pursue new career paths. On the other hand, upskilling adds value to the employee’s job profile within the company in this constantly changing and evolving environment.

Another significant difference lies in the choice of skills. In an interview for BBVA, Elisabet Bierge, partner and business director of Adqualis Executive Search, stated that reskilling prepares or retrains the professional to take on a task for which they already possess soft skills but not hard skills or technical competencies. In contrast, upskilling strengthens soft skills so that the employee can take on more responsibility and also improve or add new perspectives to the work they are already doing.

The importance of upskilling and reskilling

Currently, companies are looking for workers who possess very different skills from those needed in previous years. This is where retraining proves its worth, because it allows organizations to hold onto existing employees – who may have many desirable qualities – instead of looking for completely new ones to fill those gaps.

Reskilling is vital for companies because as technology and automation combine and evolve, these skills gaps will continue to increase. On the other hand, prioritizing upskilling is vital if we want to gain a competitive advantage in the market. Through this strategy, we can respond to the need for leadership tools and ensure the longevity of specific careers.

The benefits of launching a upskilling and reskilling program

In a McKinsey survey, 53% of leaders indicated that skills development was the best way to close skills gaps. Upskilling and reskilling both foster a culture of learning in companies, and help to distinguish them from the competition. They do this by transforming a workforce into a team of agile, diverse and creative agents who constantly look to acquire and perfect new skills. Let’s take a closer look at some of the main benefits of implementing these programs:

  • Increased productivity: by training employees in new skills, it becomes possible to optimize their performance and efficiency at work. This translates into an increase in productivity, as well as an improvement in the quality of the results obtained. Additionally, workers are likely to become more competent in their everyday tasks, which will also be positively reflected in the results the company attains.
  • Talent retention: a lack of opportunities for professional growth and development is one of the main causes of employee dissatisfaction and turnover. By implementing reskilling and upskilling programs, companies have the chance to demonstrate their commitment to staff growth and improvement. This helps them to retain talented employees, preventing the loss of knowledge and experience.
  • Expenses reduction: while it’s true that any employee’s training requires an investment, a new hire would mean up to 20% more in the budget since hiring costs add to the time and resources of the recruitment phase, interviews, and selection processes.But that’s not all; work’s evolution and its inevitable elimination of specific roles, in general, leads to firings that imply compensation costs and negatively impact employee morale.
  • Flexibility and ability to adapt to change: both training strategies allow companies to train their staff in the skills they need to handle change. This ensures that the company is consistently ready to take on new projects and opportunities, effectively keeping up with market demands.
  • Improved competitive edge: by implementing reskilling and upskilling programs, companies give themselves a clear competitive advantage. Having a team of highly trained and up-to-date employees on hand helps them to offer better service, develop more innovative ideas, and quickly adapt to market demands. All of this ensures that they differentiate themselves from the competition, and position themselves as leaders in their field.

5 key skills to enhance through your upskilling and reskilling program

The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2023 illustrates a clear evolution in the pattern of predictions about which skills will be most in demand in the future. When the report was first published in 2016, the companies surveyed projected that 35% of job skills would be affected over the following 5 years. Since then, that figure has risen to 44%, anticipating that the adoption of new technologies will stimulate the evolution of job skills, as professionals adjust to the changes these technologies will bring.

Here are some of those skills that will be most important in the future:

1. Creative thinking

This is closely related to critical thinking. Employees with initiative and creativity will not simply limit themselves to following instructions, but actually create their own opportunities. Companies are increasingly looking for professionals with these qualities – a creative capacity, originality and initiative – who can adapt easily to a changing environment and offer better insights into what clients need.

2. Artificial intelligence and big data

Technical skills are just as important as soft skills, and chief among them is the use of technology, which is essential today. Companies are increasingly demanding more candidates who are prepared to face the challenges that changing technology has imposed.

For this reason, companies today classify AI and Big Data as priorities within their training strategies, alongside other skills such as design and user experience. Developing these skills will continue to assume a higher priority as technology evolves.

3. Leadership

Although one person can influence another without holding a leadership position, a leader cannot manage or lead a team without the ability to influence others. Influential leadership is essential for working with people’s ideas and helping align them with the company’s strategies. A professional with these skills can get their team to adopt business values, mission, and culture.

4. Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is one of the communication skills that a good leader should master to build high-performance teams and work environments. The world of today requires professionals who, in addition to possessing technical knowledge, must have empathy and adaptability and be able to understand their team.

This skill includes self-control, a goal-oriented emotional approach, assertive communication, and active listening. And it is not surprising that this is a skill in high demand by most companies. According to a Capgemini study, organizations that have employees with high emotional intelligence skills achieve 20% higher profits.

5. Stress management

This is another skill that has moved to the forefront in companies due to the consequences of the pandemic. Stress management involves the ability to deal with tensions effectively in both the work and personal spheres. This requires identifying stress triggers, as well as applying strategies to manage and minimize their influence. Developing stress management helps with job satisfaction, wellbeing, and fostering a positive work environment.

Want to know the complete list of essential skills for 2024? Download our whitepaper Essential power skills for your team in 2024, and discover what they are, as well as how to integrate them into your L&D strategy.

How to implement a upskilling and reskilling plan in your company

With a view to filling new and emerging job positions, as well as expand the skillsets of employees towards these roles, we outline the steps you should follow if you want to implement a successful reskilling and upskilling program:

  • Evaluate the needs of the company

To carry out a successful upskilling and reskilling strategy within your company, it’s necessary to first evaluate and prioritize the skills that are most urgently needed amongst your employees.These skills must adapt to the new work environment to achieve immediate objectives. But it’s necessary to think in advance, update the relearning process, and include other skills for long-term purposes while the company reaches short-term goals.

  • Study existing skills in employees

Just as it is necessary to map the gaps in existing skills within the company, it is also required to identify the skills or previous knowledge your team already has. The organization’s skills must be compiled in a database, allowing you to distinguish employees who can more easily transition to other roles and have more control of their previous knowledge.

  • Offer tools that guarantee an effective learning experience

In order to provide an effective learning experience, you’ll need to choose a platform that not only offers courses in the most in-demand skills, but can also be constantly updated to reflect the latest trends and developments in the job market. Opt for a comprehensive platform that covers everything from technical competencies to soft skills. You should also ensure that it offers quality courses, featuring interactive elements such as videos, simulations, practical activities and assessments. Crucially, it should also offer enough flexibility so that employees can access content anytime, anywhere.

  • Encourage continuous learning

Often, the prospect of having to train or even learn a new set of skills can be overwhelming for some people. To help employees through this, it’s helpful to maintain active communication so that they understand how vital continuous learning is for the survival of the company, as well as for their own professional growth.

Finally, remember that organizations should always collect and analyze employee progress data, to ensure that they stay on top of the program’s success, and can restructure any areas that need attention.

Discover how isEazy helped Telefónica with the largest reskilling plan in Spain

Reskilling and upskilling give employees the opportunity to acquire new skills, knowledge and competencies, as well as expand their understanding, so they can participate fully in the growth and success of the organization. A great example of this is the transformation of learning at Telefónica, the leading Spanish company in telecommunications infrastructure.

Through the largest reskilling plan in Spain, the company has managed to get 93% of its employees to carry out some form of training activity. Additionally, by offering more than 1,185 courses on a whole variety of topics, it has transformed its learning model to offer more complete training. Want to learn more about this success story? Here we tell you the full story (available in spanish).

Improve the execution of your upskilling and reskilling programs with isEazy

Today, companies must implement agile and innovative methodologies adapting to employees’ lifestyles. The key is to make it easy for a workforce seeking a work-life balance. Therefore, in addition to having a talent development plan, employees should be able to choose when and where to carry out their training.

If you want to develop a reskilling & upskilling plan, at isEazy Skills,we’ll provide your team with all the skills courses they need to boost their talent. Request a free demo and discover the most extensive soft skills training platform on the market!

Elizabeth Aguiar Chacón


Elizabeth Aguiar Chacón

Content Marketing Specialist at isEazy

Close this search box.


Design and share your own training content.


Bespoke content creation in record time.


Learning and management centred on the user experience.


A complete catalogue for upskilling your team.


Gamification app for boosting the success of your training.


Sustainable app with a wide range of courses online.