Regular post Skills

A Skills-Based Approach to Attracting, Retaining, and Developing Talent

The way organizations hire, develop workers, and structure work is rapidly changing and the future of work lies in skills—not jobs. There’s been an ongoing shift towards a skills-based approach to hiring and talent development through which job candidates and current employees are evaluated based on their skill set and potential capabilities instead of their prior work history.

This approach helps organizations identify the talent they already have in place and fill in-demand roles with workers that possess transferable skills. Transferable skills—also known as portable skills—are competencies that a candidate has developed throughout his or her life that can “transfer” to a variety of different roles and industries. These skills may have been obtained in a previous job, during his or her education, or through hobbies or volunteer work. For example, food servers and hospitality workers possess many of the skills needed for customer service roles even though they have no experience in the field.

Reskilling vs. upskilling

Reskilling and upskilling are often used interchangeably, but there’s an important difference between the two. Upskilling focuses on improving—usually through training and development—your employees’ competencies within their current occupation to give them the ability to acquire new skills to be better equipped to do their job. Reskilling often requires that a worker learn new skills to shift his or her career trajectory to an entirely new role or occupation, sometimes requiring additional education, degree, or certification in a completely different field.

Bridging the skills gap through training and development

A company’s ability to upskill—or its capacity to train and develop its employees to expand their skill sets—creates a significant competitive advantage in our increasingly technology-driven world. Technological advancement generates numerous business opportunities but also creates gaps due to a mismatch of skills. According to McKinsey, “adapting employees’ skills and roles to the post-pandemic ways of working will be crucial to building operating-model resilience” and “companies should start crafting a talent strategy that develops employees’ critical digital and cognitive capabilities, their social and emotional skills, and their adaptability and resilience.”

To create an organizational upskilling program that develops a mix of soft, technical, and digital skills, employee training and professional development are essential. Why you might ask?

  • Provides a competitive advantage in attracting talent: Job candidates want to work for organizations that have a talent-centric culture. The American Staffing Association Workforce Monitor® online survey—conducted by The Harris Poll—found that job training programs put employers at a competitive advantage when recruiting candidates from all generations. Among those employed, 84 percent of Millennials view an employer’s professional development and training offerings as important considerations when accepting a new job, along with 79 percent of Baby Boomers, 79 percent of Generation X, and 70 percent of Generation Z.
  • Increases workplace satisfaction and quality of life: An effective training and development program supports and empowers workers by helping them learn new skills that positively impact their lives. The American Upskilling Study found that clear majorities of workers that participated in upskilling programs reported improvements in three areas —71 percent reported greater satisfaction with their jobs, 69 percent said their quality of life improved, and 65 percent reported their standard of living increased.
  • Fosters higher employee retention: The retention of talent is an ongoing challenge for employers. If workers are not given opportunities to continually update their skills, they are more inclined to quit. It’s been found that 93 percent of employees will stay at a job longer when the company invests in their career development.
  • Develops future leaders: Upskilling can support and solidify an organization’s succession plan. According to the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), having established leadership development programs ensures that an organization is focused on future business goals by continually preparing promotable talent to fill skills gaps when they arise.


The labor market is shifting from set jobs towards an ever-evolving skills-centric workforce. What does that mean? Employers need to anticipate the skills and capabilities required to succeed in the future, enhance their training and development programs for upskilling and reskilling, and foster a corporate culture of lifelong learning. Recruiters and hiring managers must redesign talent acquisition around the work that needs to be done—with demonstratable skills and learning agility—and stop focusing only on experience and past job titles.  And workers can set themselves up for future success by proactively learning new skills and being adaptable and open to change.