Why Upskilling in Manufacturing Is Key to Bridging the Skills Gap

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Before COVID-19, manufacturers understood the importance of continuously training their workforce.

They planned to spend a collective $26.2 billion in 2020 to help employees improve their existing skills, and around three-quarters said they were either launching or expanding workforce training efforts. The pandemic put many of those investments on hold — but it also rearranged their priorities. As we emerge into the fated “new normal,” training must reevaluate any slated reskilling and upskilling efforts.

So what’s the difference between reskilling and upskilling? Reskilling moves someone laterally between different jobs so they’re competent at multiple skills. On the other hand, upskilling moves someone vertically through a process of gaining skill and specialization around the job they have currently or the career path they’re following. It’s the difference between training an employee broadly versus deeply.

Both approaches are imperative coming out of the pandemic. But with many changes happening at once in manufacturing, upskilling, in particular, can help employees adapt so they can continue on their pathways successfully, ensure efficiency, and achieve operational excellence.

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