Is reskilling the same as upskilling? Everything you need to know in 2023

Is reskilling the same as upskilling? Everything you need to know in 2023

reskilling same as upskilling

Modern advances in technology and artificial intelligence are bound to put many jobs at risk across the globe. 

In its report from 2020, the World Economic Forum projected that 85 million jobs will be displaced by 2025.[1] However, according to the same report, technological innovation will create around 97 million new jobs. Clearly, businesses will be forced to adapt to these changes. 

These factors are a major driver for the reskilling of employees across industries. Successful companies must create reskilling programs that can cover their most valuable workers who are at risk of losing their jobs. Organizations that don’t adapt will suffer severe economic and personnel losses that could drive them out of the market. 

In this article, we’re going to discuss the difference between reskilling and upskilling, list the benefits of having a reskilling plan in place, and go over some examples of how to create a reskilling program for your business in 2023. 

Table of contents

What is reskilling?

Reskilling is the process of providing employees with opportunities to learn new skills so that they can move to different job roles within your organization. 

It’s critical to find employees whose current skills overlap with those needed for a new position. This will make the transition easier for the employee, and you won’t need to spend too much time and resources on their reskilling. 

An example of reskilling would be relocating in-store consultants to your online customer service branch and teaching them the different nuances of chat, email, and phone support.

This way, you can retain your employees, who will be grateful that they didn’t lose their job. In addition, you won’t have to spend resources on recruiting new people, whom you’d need to put through onboarding and training before they could start their actual work. 

What is upskilling? 

Upskilling is the process of learning new skills for the same role. Think of it as the process of career growth – employees need to learn skills to progress in their chosen career path. 

The term usually applies to specialists who have extensive experience in their field. For example, a massage specialist might upskill by learning new massage techniques, broadening the services they can provide. 

Upskilling is a good practice for any business that wants to retain its employees for longer. A LinkedIn report stated that 94% of workers would stay longer with an organization if it invested in their career development.

Thus, you need to invest in your employees to reduce turnover and get the most out of them in the long run. 

Reskilling vs. upskilling: What’s the difference? 

Although reskilling and upskilling are often used interchangeably and are both essential to your learning and development strategy, there are certain differences between them that you need to be aware of. 

The focus is different

As mentioned, reskilling is when you teach employees new skills so that they can take on different duties or roles within your organization. Upskilling, on the other hand, is when an employee learns new skills to become more proficient in their current role. 

Thus, upskilling and reskilling have different focuses and require distinct strategies to implement. You shouldn’t use the same methods to reskill and upskill employees because you might not get the desired results. 

For example, if you try to use an upskilling program to reskill someone, you risk giving them advanced information about a certain skill that they have little to no prior experience in. The employee might even feel foolish for not understanding what they need to do, demotivating them and making the process take longer than required.

Therefore, to make the most of reskilling and upskilling, you need to implement them differently, which leads us to our next point. 

The implementation is different 

As your company’s hiring manager, you need to know whether reskilling or upskilling is more appropriate for your organization. Consider the following when choosing between implementing reskilling or upskilling: 

different implementations for reskilling and upskilling

Implement reskilling when you need to:

  • Retain valuable and trustworthy employees
  • Shift workers from one sphere of your company to another
  • Change business strategies and fill positions with people who already know the ropes of your business

Choose upskilling when you need to:

  • Introduce a new technology
  • Keep employees up to date with the latest trends in your field
  • Help employees gain new skills so that they can perform better at their job

Now that you know the difference between reskilling and upskilling, we can go over the benefits of reskilling your workers. 

What are the benefits of reskilling?

There are many advantages of reskilling your workforce, especially when so many jobs are at risk of displacement these days. 

Reduced recruitment and training costs

Finding, interviewing, screening, and onboarding new employees are expensive for every business. According to LinkedIn’s Workplace Learning Report, 79% of leadership and development professionals believe that reskilling an employee is less expensive than hiring a new one.

Even if you find the perfect hire, things might not always work out. They might leave or not perform as well as expected, bringing you back to square one. 

Reskilling current employees is less expensive. And since they already know your organization inside out, you don’t need to worry as much about them leaving or underperforming. This will free up more resources that you can channel back into your reskilling program. 

Retention of employees and company knowledge

Reskilling employees shows that you care about them, making them more likely to stay with your business longer. You’ll also be able to keep your best employees, who would otherwise be left without a job. 

In addition, all the investments that you’ve made in them will be retained within your organization. This includes company knowledge, know-how, and market insights that they might otherwise take to your competitors. 

upskilling good practice businesses wanting retain employees

Development of employees’ skills 

Research has shown that 70% of employees have left a job because of a lack of career development. Further, 95% of the same respondents said they would have stayed with their organization if they had better opportunities for career growth.

Reskilling employees enables them to develop personally and professionally, boosting their morale and performance. 

Additionally, by reskilling current employees, you’re investing in their skills and broadening the tasks they can perform. This makes them versatile since they can draw on knowledge from their previous job role, which can prove beneficial for your organization’s overall performance. 

The ability to keep up with future demands

According to the World Economic Forum, the average half-life of a skill is around five years, meaning that the skill will be half as valuable in just five years.

So to meet your company’s future demands, it’s vital to reskill your employees to ensure they are equipped to keep up with the evolving work environment. 

Reskilling employees prepares them so that they are ready to adapt quickly to changes. 

How to create a reskilling plan for 2023

If you don’t already have one in place, creating a reskilling plan in 2023 will greatly benefit your business in the long run. 

However, it’s important to remember that reskilling isn’t a one-time task that you can quickly finish and get out of the way.

Reskilling should be a long-term, strategic process for your business. You must constantly adapt to changes in labor demand. Laying a sound foundation for your reskilling plan can help you reap benefits in the future, making your organization more competitive in the long run. 

As the hiring manager, you can keep an eye out for changing trends in your industry and predict what new roles your company might need. Start training people early on so that you’re ready for any scenario. 

Follow the below steps to start creating your 2023 reskilling plan. 

how to create reskilling plan 2023

Write down your company’s needs

The success of every plan hinges on a sound strategy that you can use as a reference.

Map out the skills your employees currently possess, where your business is heading, and what skills they might need in the future. Assess whether your current workforce is up to date with evolving software and hardware innovations, and start thinking about what new roles might emerge that could benefit your organization. 

1. Set goals 

Once you’ve clearly outlined your reskilling plan, you want to set goals. 

To do that, you can start by asking yourself these questions:

  • How many employees will you need to reskill and for how long? 
  • What resources will you require? Do you need extra workshop rooms or more laptops? Will you opt for training courses, lead the workshops yourself, or hire an external company to do the training for you?
  • Can you reskill everyone, or will you need to let some people go to free up extra resources? 

Once you answer these questions, you can determine your reskilling goals. Here’s an example:

  • In one year, five new roles will need to be filled
  • In six to eight months, we’ll reskill 10 people to fill those roles
  • We’ll need to create three new training programs to reskill these employees 

After you set goals, you can identify employees who can potentially be reskilled. 

2. Identify employees you can reskill

As mentioned earlier, the ideal employees for reskilling are those who have shown excellent performance throughout their time in the business. In addition, you want to identify multipotentialites, i.e., people who excel in different areas thanks to their many skills and talents. 

These are the perfect employees for reskilling since they will be easier to work with and less resistant to change. They can also be the early adopters of your reskilling program, paving the way for more cautious employees to reskill. 

Apart from that, you can use a skills-gap analysis to identify the gap between your employees’ current skills and what they need to know to achieve future company goals. 

Once you identify the skills you need, you can choose your reskilling methods.  

3. Choose reskilling learning methods 

Since you’ll have different employees with varying skill sets, you should personalize the reskilling program to ensure it’s flexible and meets everyone’s learning needs. 

To find out exactly what you need, you must understand how different employees learn and process information and align this with your reskilling objectives. 

Once you’ve done that, you can choose any or all of the following learning methods based on each employee’s needs:

  • E-learning courses
  • Group training
  • Coaching
  • Simulations 
  • Job shadowing
  • Mentorships

You might also opt to train all employees in core skills that you’ll need in the future, regardless if you plan to keep all of them. These could include:  

  • Digital training to move your work to a digital environment
  • Cognitive training to improve adaptiveness, problem-solving, and flexibility
  • Emotional intelligence training to help build interpersonal skills

4. Use technology 

Using an e-learning platform can benefit your reskilling plan more than trying to do everything manually. You can also track employees’ progress and make adjustments when someone gets stuck. 

Even though TestGorilla’s skills assessments are most commonly used for prescreening candidates, you can also use them to identify knowledge and skills that your employees might be lacking.

For example, if you’ve identified people who might take on leadership roles in the future, you can use the Leadership & People Management test to evaluate their ability to delegate tasks, plan, provide guidance, and give feedback. If someone is ideal for the role but lacks any of these skills, you can train them and prepare the future leaders of the organization.  

5. Analyze results constantly 

Finally, you need to constantly analyze and adjust your reskilling methods to meet new demands. 

See what works and what doesn’t, make changes, and build a reskilling program that can last the test of time and drive real personnel change in your organization. 

Create a reskilling plan to adapt to changes  

Building a reskilling program in 2023 will give you an edge over your competitors and enable you to adjust to changing labor demands.

Whether you opt for reskilling, upskilling, or both will depend on your company’s future needs. Therefore, it’s vital to create a solid plan and set actionable goals that you can track. Analyze what skills are needed to perform new job roles, and identify employees who would be perfect for your reskilling program.

Taking these preemptive steps will enable you to adapt to change and stay competitive in the long run by retaining your best employees.

Remember that you can use skills testing to determine what abilities your employees need to develop. Sign up for a free demo with TestGorilla to find out how you can start assessing your workforce today.


  1. Russo, Amanda. (October 20, 2020). “Recession and Automation Changes Our Future of Work, But There are Jobs Coming, Report Says”. Retrieved February 1, 2023. 

Hire the best candidates
with TestGorilla.

Create pre-employment assessments in minutes to screen candidates, save time, and hire the best talent.

Try for free

The best advice in pre-employment testing, in your inbox.

No spam. Unsubscribe at any time.

Hire the best. No bias. No stress.

Our screening tests identify the best candidates and make your hiring decisions faster, easier, and bias-free.

Try for free

Free resources