upskilling and reskilling gold medal

Organizational Olympics: Using Upskilling and Reskilling to Create a Gold Medal Strategy

This year, the youngest athletes at the Olympics got a lot of attention. After all, how could you not be impressed by a 13-year-old gold medalist like skateboarder Momiji Nishiya?

But it’s important not to forget that plenty of stars—in sports, the arts, and business—aren’t exactly child prodigies.

In fact, a number of Olympians over the years have completely changed course and learned to excel in an unrelated sport.

Take Lauryn Williams. A star sprinter who competed in the 2004, 2008, and 2012 Summer Olympics, receiving a gold and silver medal along the way, Williams was sidelined by an ankle injury in 2012.

But she wasn’t ready to give up her need for speed. She retrained as a bobsledder and won a silver medal at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Or Britain’s Rebecca Romero. A 2004 rowing silver medalist, Romero had switched events by the next Olympics, where she won a gold for cycling.

And after the Olympics, many athletes go on to successful, entirely unrelated careers—like figure skater Emily Hughes, who has built a successful career in tech.

These might seem like extreme examples. But in today’s world, most professional careers involve similar upskilling and reskilling (though admittedly, medals aren’t always involved).

What Are Upskilling and Reskilling?

What’s the difference between reskilling and upskilling? In some cases, you or your employees may need to learn new skills or technologies to perform better in your current jobs—say, for example, a digital marketer who needs to learn search engine optimization. This is upskilling. Employees may also upskill if they plan to move into a higher-up position in their current organization or industry.

Meanwhile, reskilling means that you’re gaining the competencies needed to move into a different role or industry. Reskilling may be important for somebody whose position has become obsolete due to advancements in technology and who will need to take on completely new responsibilities.

Reskilling to Meet Tomorrow’s Challenges

By the next Olympics, half of employees are likely to require new skills, according to the World Economic Forum. Even those at the top of their game will need to shift and adapt to new technology and consumer trends. Today’s capabilities were unimaginable not long ago (imagine explaining Instagram to someone from 2005), and the pace of change is only increasing.

Topping the list of required competencies are so-called soft skills like critical thinking, problem-solving, and resiliency (perhaps not surprising after the upheavals of 2020). Demand for knowledge of technology design, use, and programming is also expected to rise—and those are just the things we know.

And companies won’t just hire to fill those skill gaps—94% of business leaders expect their employees to learn on the job. Increasingly, employees and employers alike are turning to online learning since many key competencies can be gained or sharpened over the course of a few months.

Meeting Demand for New Learning Opportunities

At Emeritus, we’re strong believers in the power of upskilling and reskilling the workforce. Many organizations already have the talent and ability they need in-house—it’s simply a matter of applying that brainpower to new problems and new roles.

Anand Chopra-McGowan, VP and GM of Enterprise Europe at Emeritus, recently looked back at his career and the skill-building programs he helped design and deploy that were considered successful over the last decade in a recent Harvard Business Review article titled “Make Sure Your Company’s Reskilling Efforts Pay Off.”

For example, Capital One, a U.S. bank, launched the Capital One Developer Academy to train young liberal arts and humanities graduates in software engineering, an example of reskilling.

A team of analysts at the insurance company BNP Paribas Cardif participated in an advanced data analysis course where they learned how to use new tools, like Python—an example of upskilling. Shortly after, team members reported being more efficient thanks to the features of this high-level programming language.

The global beauty products giant L’Oréal put its marketing team through an intensive workshop on search engine optimization. Shortly after the workshop, the team found that its core products saw a spike in traffic from search engines.

Next Steps for Upskilling and Reskilling

Emeritus programs, created exclusively through partnerships with leading universities, are designed for working professionals with varying levels of subject-matter expertise and meant to solve specific problems felt by organizations.

Skills are the key component in your talent supply chain. From marketing and data analytics to finance and strategy, our courses target the challenges you’re facing.

Reach out to Emeritus Enterprise today to see what might help your organization rack up its next set of gold medals through reskilling and upskilling.

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