Reskilling And Upskilling Existing Staff Effectively In Pakistan

Defining Upskilling and Reskilling

Reskilling And Upskilling are frequently used interchangeably, even among HR professionals. However, these are two different terms.


It is about learning a new skill or improving an employee’s current skills to help their chances of moving up in an organization. Individuals often use upskilling to increase their eligibility for promotions or growth in their job roles. Upskilling can be applied in situations as diverse as developing technical knowledge like coding and machine learning or learning soft skills like problem-solving, public speaking, and project management.


Reskilling is defined as learning new skills that are different from a resource’s current set of abilities. Unlike upskilling, where individuals build on their existing skills, reskilling involves learning an entirely new set of abilities. Reskilling can be used to shift career paths and switch to a new industry or upgrade the employability of people in fields experiencing rapid technological advancements. Real-life applications include moving from a sales job to operations management or learning about coding.

Why Upskilling and Reskilling are Important.

Our workplaces are evolving rapidly, and core skills that staff learn in an academic setting are becoming outdated. A growing number of employers, particularly on the tech side, are no longer asking for college degrees. 

Upskilling and Reskilling are not just the latest organizational learning buzzwords and “good to adopt” benefits. They are playing a key role in the success of evolving businesses. Companies planning for their future predict their skill set gaps and bring them into line with their succession plans. 

Successful alignment of future strategy with succession, employee reskilling, and upskilling shows that such internal programs can play major roles in company growth and success.

1. Evolving Work Practices

The nature of jobs and everyday tasks is shifting due to digital transformation. AI and automation of routine jobs are now a basic part of a company’s strategic plan. AI and automation have made many jobs redundant as routine of are now being carried out by apps or other software. 

This has led to a spike in demand for roles that require employees to either upskill or reskill for their workplace. Most jobs now require staff to handle various digital tools and platforms. Compare this to 5 years back when such jobs were designated for IT staff and other technical experts.  Nowadays, most staff need to be digitally competent with a wide range of skills, previously part of the IT department’s domain. 

This evolution of work practices is ongoing, and job requirements keep adapting to changing workplace practices.

2. A Changing Workforce

The structure of the workplace is also changing as older workers reach retirement age in Pakistan. Younger people are now a larger part of the workplace. These are people who have grown up in a world where rapid technological changes occur. They are more comfortable with the idea that being up-to-date is a basic part of career development and progression. 

 GenZ, as well as the newest generation iGen (born 1995-2012), are just starting to enter the workplace post-graduation. Both age groups strongly emphasize ongoing learning when applying for and accepting a job. 

Many young employees are willing to invest personally, but they also expect employer support. Offering a wide range of reskilling and upskilling options is now a central part of an attractive and dynamic employer brand. 

3. Employee Retention and Improved Engagement

Younger employees place a higher emphasis on psychological safety, recognition, and feeling valued.  A focus on upskilling and reskilling at work ensures that employees are more motivated. Such a focus also helps to enhance the employee experience and encourages higher levels of employee loyalty.

4.  Improved Business Performance

Addressing skill gaps in an organization, especially when it is linked with succession planning, offers businesses several benefits. The obvious one is the building of more diverse and cohesive teams. It is usually more cost-effective and better to train existing talent instead of hiring external resources that will require an onboarding time and a learning curve. 

Companies that don’t offer their promising employees the opportunity for internal promotion and self-growth run the risk of losing their key employees. Consider the opportunity costs of losing core business knowledge and experience, usually to a competitor, and the business case for upskilling and reskilling is compelling.

Common Options for Upskilling and Reskilling?

1. Returnships

This is a great option to target women, specifically those who have left the workplace for parenting or other responsibilities. Most working mothers who take a career gap are willing to rejoin the workforce after a few years.   

Many highly qualified professional women struggle to re-enter the workforce or apply for full-time roles after their career break. Many Pakistani companies are launching initiatives to target such women with success, but in some cases, the searches are still constricted in the type of profile they are looking for. 

Companies can also include corporate alumni. These are individuals who are ex-employees who know the company, its products and services but need a skill refresh and can rejoin the workplace.

2. Formal Training

This can be achieved in several ways:

  • Sponsored training at colleges, universities, or other training bodies, with workplace support like financial support, day release to attend courses, and study leaves to prepare for exams or certification.
  • In-house learning sessions. These can be either real-time or online, where experts deliver workshops in their specialist field. These are particularly useful to employees struggling to attend evening courses.
  • Distance learning: This is useful for training employees who are dispersed geographically. There are several online training options that use multimedia and other interactive tools, including online breakout rooms, quizzes, games, videos, and presentations. The downside is that sometimes participants can feel isolated without face-to-face interaction.

3. Mentoring

Assigning mentors to junior employees can give them exposure to skills it would be difficult to pick up in formal training. It can also help train employees for future succession strategies.

Creating opportunities for upskilling and reskilling at work is key to the health and success of your business. Committing to lifelong learning is essential to planning, especially as advances in technology, AI, and workplace automation gather pace.

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