Top Employee Upskilling Trends to watch going into 2021

Amit Gautam
Amit Gautam January 06, 2021

Pandemic or no pandemic, employee upskilling has been a priority for many organizations given the constant tech disruptions sweeping through global industries. But, with the pandemic unleashing the full wrath on the business world, it has become increasingly clear that upskilling in a must-have to cope with the wave of digital transformation, remote working and in-demand competencies across the world.

According to Udemy’s 2021 Workplace Learning Trends report, there is a significant rise in the rate at which employees are being upskilled or reskilled as opposed to previous years; and data further suggests that the trend is mostly the result of more and more organizations identifying and addressing the skills gap.

Although the emergence of this upskilling trend across the globe is inspiring, it still remains to be seen as to how L&D leverages it going into 2021.

State of Upskilling in 2021

More and more organizations are now prioritizing cultivating a culture of learning to upskill employees. One simple reason for this trend being that it’s just too expensive for organizations to recruit as a way out of their skills gap crisis.

When rated on Bersin’s Learning Organization Maturity Model, over 58% of surveyed organizations stated that their L&D program is at level 3 or 4, which are the highest levels of maturity, which means these organizations have proven-effective L&D programs that empower employees to take their learning into their own hands and have also integrated learning in the flow-of-work.

However, 42% organizations also reportedly having very traditional approaches to L&D, with ‘lack of time’ begin stated as one of the most critical obstacles.

Going into 2021, with the knowledge and experience of constant innovations in the workplace and the rising attrition rate driving a constant demand for talented employees, it’s about time for L&D to be more proactive in their approach to optimize available talent and focus on capability development in order to address the skills gap.

So, which skills are in-demand in today’s business landscape, and what capabilities are companies looking for in candidates for working remotely? Forbes asked ten professionals from Forbes Human Resources Council, who shared the top skills they’d be seeking out in 2021.

  • Growth Mindset

Dominique Farnan from DotConnect says – ‘The top skill I will continue to look for in 2021 is growth mindset, one of our core values at drive plus curiosity. I am more inclined to hire someone who wants to learn and is flexible than someone who has all of the technical skills but lacks curiosity or flexibility. Things are constantly changing, and the way we work needs to reflect those changes.’

  • Critical Thinking

Rachel Lyubovitzky from EverythingBenefits says – ‘The ability to think critically will be crucial as we chart the course toward a post-COVID world. Businesses will continue to face challenges that will require teams to be innovative in their problem-solving and communicating frequently.’

  • Resilience & Curiosity

Rohini Shankar from CIOX Health says – ‘The top skills we are looking for are resilience, adaptability and curiosity. We need learners who are curious about the world around them, can easily adjust to new things thrown at them, and then have the resilience and grit to overcome obstacles and win.’

  • Flexibility

Jennifer Marszalek from Working Credit NFP says – ‘Flexibility is going to be key in 2021. We're used to the new normal by now, but it's likely to change again just as quickly. In 2021, some things may feel like 2019, some like 2020, and some things will be brand new. We're on an all new journey. Finding candidates that have a comfort with change and ambiguity will help you, and them, get off to a good start.

  • Virtual Environment Skills

Bianca McCann from SAP SuccessFactors says – ‘Seeking out talent who can thrive in a virtual environment will be critical in 2021. Contenders for remote roles should demonstrate how they have been able to stay visible in a virtual world. Visibility can include offering up a critical skill set, collaborating across teams, leveraging tech tools, offering impeccable responsiveness, being in alignment with key business priorities, promoting team success, and more.’

While industries will continue to demand newer skills going into 2021, it’s important for businesses to look out for upskilling and reskilling trends to aid their skilling initiatives to compete at the highest level.

Check out our curated learning plans to boost your L&D programs from good to great.

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