What is upskilling and how to use it to benefit your SME

The upskilling of staff has become the new ‘must have’ for SMEs and their employees. Employees are now more likely to look at the other benefits on offer to them rather than just the salary itself, and the opportunity to be upskilled ranks highly amongst those benefits.

Upskilling does not only help individuals by developing them to reach their potential, it also helps the organisation to attract and retain staff, as well as improving the performance of the organisation through it people.

What is Upskilling?

Upskilling is very similar to training and development. With both upskilling and training, the idea is to help get the most out of your people by helping them to develop new skills or improve existing skills that are required for the role. The difference between training and upskilling is in the development process. Upskilling is a continual internal drive to help employees develop the skills they want. It is also a conscious effort to help employees discover new talents, encouraging them to bring more back to the organisation. Acquiring new skills that are not necessarily specifically required for their job function empowers people to take control of their own learning and could result in a positive impact for the company in ways that may not have been immediately apparent from the outset. The aim for the SME is to create a positive learning environment.

What are the Benefits of Upskilling?

The benefits of upskilling are mutually beneficial to both the employee and the organisation. We’ve listed some these benefits below:

Employee Retention

Employees that believe that their work is challenging, and feel therefore that they are continually developing their skills, are the happiest within the work environment. When employees are upskilled beyond their normal roles they often are eager to discover what could be the next step to take in their personal development.

Promote from Within

As an SME, attracting the best talent can be a long and difficult process therefore once you have people on board you will want to keep hold of them. The best way to do this is to promote from within. Promoting from within saves time on searching for new talent when you already have an extensive pool within your organisation. However, you will not be able to do this without upskilling them first.

Customer Satisfaction

As the saying goes ‘happy employees means happy customers’. By upskilling your staff, they are more likely to be happy within your organisation, meaning they will be more invested in your brand which in turn will result in them presenting a positive company image to your customers. Also upskilling enables them to think outside the box and better aid your customers.

Attracting Talent

As mentioned above, attracting the best talent can be difficult for SMEs; you may not be able to offer the highest salary or the best perks. However, being able to offer to help give them skills that they want to develop it is a great attraction. Being seen as providing a positive learning environment enables your business to continue to compete with ‘the big boys’.


It is obvious to anyone that has had to deal with an unskilled worker that they impact negatively on productivity. However, not only training employees to have the right skills needed for their role but also upskilling them, has a positive impact on productivity. When employees are upskilled, they have a diversification of skills, meaning that they can take on additional tasks or roles, therefore increasing the overall productivity of the organisation.


These are just five examples of the way in which upskilling your workforce benefits both your business and its people. As discovered by providing opportunities to upskill you are not committing to simply a noble gesture, but you are enabling rewards to be felt by both the organisation and the employees.

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