Learn the five steps to upskill and reskill manufacturing employees. Find out the benefits such as improving productivity and retention.

Although the terms upskill and reskill are used interchangeably, they are not the same.

Upskilling refers to cultivating a worker’s skillset to help them excel in their current role. Meanwhile, reskilling involves teaching an employee new skills in order to transition to a new role.

For example, a programmer can be reskilled to become a systems analyst. Or workers can be upskilled to manage technology as more jobs become automated.

Half of all workers will need to be upskilled by 2025 as more jobs become digitized, according to the World Economic Forum. Workers will take on more critical thinking and problem-solving roles, leaving technical tasks to artificial intelligence and machine learning. Furthermore, the growing skilled labor gap in manufacturing has created a workforce shortage, and upskilling and training are becoming necessary to ensure production capacity is met.

Explore the following topics below to learn more about upskilling and reskilling in manufacturing, including a step by step guides to reskilling and upskilling manufacturing workers.

What does upskill mean?

Upskilling involves evaluating an employee’s existing skills and helping them to advance in their current role. It helps facilitate continuous learning by providing training opportunities to develop employee skills.

It can involve refining either soft skills or technical skills to fill workplace gaps. For instance, emotional intelligence is a soft skill that can be honed in leadership roles. Similarly, technical skills are needed in many manufacturing positions. Working with technology is a must as companies automate more and more of their operations.

An HR representative with data analytics experience, for example, can hone their skills to take on more specialized tasks. This can consist of taking a class to gain more knowledge or attending a virtual conference to learn about industry-specific technology.

Upskilling staff can help your business stay on top of industry trends and pivot in an ever-changing digital landscape.

What is reskilling?

Reskilling involves learning new skills to move on to a new role within a company. It’s also a cost-effective alternative to hiring new employees.

For example, an electrician may have excellent planning and job estimation skills. The organization could choose to reskill that worker to an estimation position instead of hiring someone from the outside.

Or an employer could reskill a production assembler to work as a maintenance technician. The new role may require taking a series of training courses and completing certain safety classes or certifications.

Upskilling and reskilling employees are efficient ways to retain a workforce. Both provide opportunities to help workers grow and advance skills. Learn how to upskill and reskill staff with the following steps.

How to upskill manufacturing workers

It’s important to have a clear plan before upskilling manufacturing workers:

Step 1: Assess current skills.

It’s crucial to map employees’ current skills. This data will serve as the baseline for measuring employee progress.

A great way to outline worker skills is through a skills matrix, which digitizes and helps accurately track skills across your organization. This can help identify any skills gaps that exist in current departments.

skills matrix

Step 2: Access skills needed for the future.

After assessing current employee skills, it’s time to identify any skills needed for the future. Keep in mind that these must align with any changes expected to occur in the manufacturing industry or in your long-term business plan.

Step 3: Create upskilling goals.

Set employee-specific goals. For example, you may want each worker to take training courses to hone job-specific skills.

Step 4: Match workers with new learning opportunities.

Workers can develop skills through new learning opportunities. It’s important to offer training and development opportunities that help workers grow and foster their skills.

Step 5: Monitor progress.

By this stage, you should have mapped employee skills and outlined which ones are needed. It’s important to monitor any progress made. Organizations that digitally track employee skills can map “what the worker has been trained on” to actual job performance (“how the worker is doing”) to create a true representation of proficiency gaps and upskilling opportunities.

skills job proficiency mapping

How to reskill manufacturing workers

If you’re looking to reskill manufacturing workers, consider the following steps below:

Step 1: Identify what skills need cultivating.

Pinpoint which skills are the most valuable and create training programs to train workers on those skills. Think about which new roles need to be created.

Step 2: Integrate upskilling.

It’s vital to start training employees and offering resources to advance skills. For example, training your workers on how to operate digital tools or a specific piece of equipment can help them take advantage of promotion opportunities down the line.

skills job proficiency mapping

Step 3: Customize learning plan.

Develop a plan of core learning opportunities for any skillsets that are needed now or in the future. For example, you can customize learning plans to specific roles.

Step 4: Test and adjust.

Developing a perfect reskilling plan on the first try is no small feat. Be willing to acknowledge any mistakes and fix them.

Step 5: Invest in budget.

Allocating enough financial resources for reskilling employees is vital to company growth. Modify your budget to make reskilling a priority.

Benefits of upskilling and reskilling manufacturing employees

Workplace roles are changing and expanding in the age of automation. This change can bring about skill gaps that need to be filled for a business to stay ahead of the curve.

Upskilling and reskilling manufacturing employees has a number of long-term benefits for employers, such as:

  • Boosts retention. Investing in your employees’ skills development fosters better relationships. Workers who feel valued are less likely to leave. Improving retention can save businesses money on hiring and training new workers.
  • Improves morale. Businesses that offer training and development opportunities help their workers grow and move forward in the company. This can help employees feel like they’re working toward something and not staying stagnant within the company.
  • Improves quality and productivity. Beyond retention and morale improvement, upskilling and reskilling can have production benefits. A more skilled and trained workforce can result in improved quality, productivity, and efficiency throughout your organization.

Looking to improve upskilling and reskilling within your organization?

Augmentir’s suite of smart connected worker tools helps manufacturing organizations create a more skilled and productive workforce. Find out how our software can make it easier to upskill and reskill workers in your manufacturing operation. If you’d like a demo, let us know and we’ll be in touch.

Learn how to track employee skills in manufacturing and discover modern approaches to effective skills tracking.

In today’s manufacturing environment, it is daunting and time consuming to keep track of employee skill levels across the many different job tasks. With the constantly accelerating rate of turnover in the workforce, Excel or paper-based skills tracking processes of the past have become obsolete.

Leading manufacturers are now turning to smart digital technology to streamline skills tracking and connect it with frontline operations, giving them a competitive edge and boosting workplace safety productivity. Skills tracking software can be a great help to identify workers’ current skills and find any gaps. In a nutshell, such a tool helps automate, organize and simplify the process of evaluating employees’ skills and better understanding your workforce.

track employee skills in manufacturing

Learn more about how skills tracking is changing and the importance of integrating skills management into the flow of work by exploring the following topics:

Five approaches to effective skills tracking

According to a recent survey by McKinsey & Company, companies reported that tracking and validating skills and competencies was their top talent challenge.

Effective skills tracking can improve safety, productivity, and worker performance by helping match the right people with the right tasks. For any organization, there are multiple methods and tools that can be used to track the skills of your workforce:

1. Direct assessment

This approach focuses on one employee directly assessing another. This may be done as a form of peer review between employees or by a manager.

2. Self-assessment

This approach consists of employees conducting self-assessments of their skills and qualifications through surveys every few months.

3. Anonymous peer assessment

This approach involves coworkers anonymously assessing each other’s performance on projects or other tasks.

4. Skill assessment using HR or learning systems

This type of assessment can be done using an HR system (or a Learning Management System) to assess and update employee profiles based on training completed. For example, workers can report any courses finished, track their training data or report new certificates.

5. AI-based skills tracking software

Any of the above 4 methods are commonly used, however, the increasing workforce variability, absenteeism, and turnover is forcing new requirements. Increasingly, manufacturers are turning to AI-based software solutions to help digitally track and manage skills, and connect them with work execution.

HR/Learning systems or standalone skills tracking software solutions that attempt to automate skills tracking fall short of meeting the needs of today’s manufacturers because they do not connect the “skills that workers know” with the “work being done”. These standalone solutions may have been ideal for the stable, unchanging workforce of the past, but they are not suited for today’s era of high workforce variability.

skills and work

An integrated, closed-loop skills management system is the solution for this era of high workforce turnover and absenteeism. Skills management solutions that combine skills tracking capabilities with AI-based connected worker technology and on-the-job digital guidance can deliver significant additional value. Data from actual work performance can inform workforce development investments allowing you to target you training, reskilling, and upskilling efforts where they have the largest impact.

Benefits of tracking skills in manufacturing

Tracking skills in manufacturing can help identify the skills your employees already hold and those they still need to learn to properly do their jobs. Furthermore, using AI-based connected worker solutions, organizations can digitize and easily manage skills tracking and training programs and connect them with frontline operations.

Some benefits of tracking your employees’ skills using this approach include:

1. Boosts productivity on the shop floor

An organization’s commitment to cultivating its team’s skills can influence their attitudes toward the job. A worker is likelier to perform better when valued and appreciated. Skills tracking also ensures that workers are qualified to perform their job.

2. Ensure safety

Solutions that close the loop between training/skills and the work being done allow organizations to validate at the time of work assignment who has the skill level to safely perform a specific task. This helps to mitigate risk and ensure safety.

3. Intelligently assigning work

Ensure the right person is assigned to the right job. Manage work assignments based on skill level, endorsements, and actual job performance.

4. Closes the skills gap

Tracking skills is a great way to identify gaps between the skills employees already have and the skills they need. With this information, the company can arrange for additional training or other ways to invest in their employees. Keep in mind that as your manufacturing organization evolves and grows, so should your employee skillset.

5. Boosts internal communications

Employers who actively develop their employees’ skill levels are likelier to retain them. Tracking skills can also motivate and spur connections with team members.

6. Identify upskilling or reskilling opportunities

Use data from actual work performance, combined with an employee’s current skills and endorsements to inform your reskilling and upskilling decisions.

7. Enhances competitive edge

Although the purpose of effective skills tracking is to aid in worker growth and development, a byproduct is a stronger, more competitive organization as a whole. Knowing where improvements need to be made can close any learning gaps and boost the overall success of a company. Optimizing your workforce can help improve productivity in every department, giving your company a competitive edge in today’s market.

Features to look for in skills tracking software

Having the right features in skill tracking software can help a company be more productive and efficient. This type of software should help manufacturing facilities no only identify, assess, track and cultivate employee skills, but also improve operational safety and performance.

It’s important to look for the following features when deciding which software is right for you:

Training management
This feature helps businesses see how their teams are progressing and evaluate whether training opportunities are making an impact. It helps store employee training records for real-time access and evaluation, and measure training effectiveness based on actual job performance.

Certifications management
This feature helps employers manage employee certifications. If a worker’s certification is expiring, the software’s tracking functions should easily notify the parties involved.

Skills tracking integrated into the flow of work
Skill levels and current endorsements ensure that workers can perform tasks safely and correctly and, therefore need to be considered at the moment of work assignment and again at the moment of work execution.

Live dashboard
Skills tracking software with customizable dashboards offer a real-time view of employee skills, qualifications, and any skill gaps that may exist. Managers will have a better idea of where to allocate resources to train employees and who is a better fit for a role.

intelligently assign jobs


Learn how Smart Skills Management software is helping manufacturers bridge the gap between training, skills, and work to build a more resilient and agile workforce.

Download our latest eBook – The Future of Work: Connecting Skills Management with Standard Work.