Upskilling and Reskilling Your Nonprofit Workforce

As a nonprofit leader, when it comes to the future of your workforce, focusing on skills is an essential step. However, many upskilling strategies are missing the mark. The confusion often starts with a lack of understanding the difference between upskilling, reskilling and cross-skilling—the lines tend to blur and identifying the role of each will better equip your organization to prepare for the future of work. While both upskilling and reskilling are about learning new skills, the context for each is a bit different. Upskilling is focused on helping employees become more knowledgeable and develop new competencies that relate to their current position while reskilling is about equipping workers to switch lanes and move into new roles within your organization. Cross-skilling is the process of developing skills that are valuable across multiple functions.

There’s no denying that upskilling and reskilling initiatives require a significant investment, in both money and time. Superior approaches generally include both compelling content as part of a Learning and Development (L&D) curriculum, as well as experimental opportunities such as mentoring and projects. Given the effort upskilling and reskilling require, some might wonder if it might just be easier to prioritize external hiring. While it might sound like a simpler strategy on the surface, turning to new talent won’t solve your skill-building concerns. Even if your organization manages to recruit employees with the necessary skills, these recruits will need to build new capabilities in the future. Since the pace of change is accelerating, offering opportunities for upskilling and reskilling has become unavoidable this day in age.

When determining the best form of training for your employees, it can depend on the permanency of their positions. It would be a poor use of resources to invest in the professional development of an employee whose role is becoming obsolete. Upskilling tends to benefit positions that can easily evolve with the organization, while reskilling is perfect for helping employees of changing departments get ready for entirely new workplace obligations. Organizations that are content with their current staff can use upskilling to continuously help their employees develop their qualifications without reassigning them a different position. You can help support your staff grow as professionals by providing them with enriching training opportunities while maintain an effective forward-thinking team in the workplace. 

Taking into account the skill set of your team, your organization can then determine if a particular employee will remain in their current position or if their capabilities will be more beneficial in another area of the organization. Staff members who exceed the organization’s expectations in their department and have proved to be excellent leaders should undergo reskilling to prepare them for a promotion. Where a promotion isn’t an option, perhaps they could make a lateral move, in which their salary and hierarchy stay the same but their position changes. Employees who would benefit from honing their existing abilities can do so through upskilling programs.

Upskilling and reskilling your professionals will have significant impact on their careers. Offering either form of training to an employee can develop their professional skills and position them as a valuable member of your organization. Businesses that understand the benefits of both processes will help their employees find success in whichever position and responsibilities they undertake.

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08/22/22 2:28 PM

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