The Great Resignation has hit the tech sector hard. But you can start fighting back by investing in your existing workforce. Read about the value of upskilling and reskilling, and follow our tips for kick-starting your internal mobility program.

The Great Resignation hit — and continues to hit — the tech sector hard. Global Knowledge's 2021 IT Skills and Salary Report found that 76% of IT decision-makers had experienced critical skills gaps on their teams, a 145% increase since 2016.

There are two obvious ways for firms to fill those skills gaps. The first is to offer stellar benefits to get new recruits through the door — paying candidates to show up for interviews, for example, or paid leave for pet adoption. The second is to upskill or reskill existing employees. Executed well, this second approach doesn’t just help fill gaps but also incentivizes talent to stick around and develop their careers.

But before we talk about execution, let’s define some terms.

upskilling vs. reskilling: what's the difference?

Imagine an organization that's making the transition from in-house to cloud servers. Instead of recruiting DevOps and cloud engineers from outside, the firm gives its current engineers the knowledge and training they need to move into the cloud (as it were). That's reskilling.

Now imagine that this new crop of cloud engineers needs a firmer grasp on AI and machine learning to build advanced automated processes. The organization facilitates this learning journey while keeping the engineers in their current roles. That's upskilling.

4 tips for upskilling/reskilling tech workers

You can start shifting some of your focus from attracting new talent to investing in your existing teams right now. Consider these tips.

conduct a skills audit

Use surveys and one-to-one interviews to assess the skills of your current workforce. This will help you identify knowledge gaps that can be filled by upskilling to meet the evolving needs of the organization. Furthermore, you might also identify employees with latent skills that are ripe for development — a software engineer with leadership potential, for example, who can be reskilled to take on a project management role.

get buy-in from your workers

Don’t expect employees to embrace upskilling and reskilling if you portray them as quick fixes for your staffing problems. Instead, talk about the opportunities for long-term career advancement these initiatives present. Fear of career stagnation is one of the key sentiments driving the Great Resignation, so the more you promote growth and development through your internal mobility programs, the better your chances of retaining top performers.

embrace mentoring and job shadowing

When mapping out a learning journey for your employees, don’t stop at certification and online courses. Also look for opportunities for people to learn on a day-to-day basis and within your organizational culture. For example, pairing a junior web developer with a more senior colleague in an informal mentoring relationship could have the effect of upskilling both parties — the former in technical skills, the latter in leadership. Job shadowing, in turn, is a great way for workers identified as reskilling candidates to gain experience in a different role.

reimagine your talent pipelines

If your organization is polarized into “tech” and “non-tech” people, now’s the perfect time to reach across the aisle. Identify your skills gaps and then consider upskilling and reskilling existing employees who don’t have tech experience. Target underrepresented groups — women, for example, who are constantly being told that tech is now a level playing field. So why are fields like cybersecurity and data analysis still so male-dominated? If your reskilling and upskilling initiatives help diversity your workforce, they could be among the best investments you ever make.

If you need help implementing your upskilling and reskilling programs, Randstad is uniquely well-positioned to provide it. Read about our advanced workforce solutions that can power the success of employees and employers alike.