November 29, 2023

Drawing the line between retraining and upskilling

The recent digital revolution is developing at such a fast pace that the job market is lagging behind. As some roles become redundant and many others are created (or redesigned), more and more businesses are struggling to find talent that fits their specific requirements. Things aren’t getting any easier for their existing staff either as more skills are constantly being added to their roles. To overcome these challenges and support their employees to achieve the best possible results, organizations focus on training and development of employees, especially retraining. But what is retraining and how does it differ from upskilling? Furthermore, why is retraining key to your organization’s success?

What is retraining?

When conditions change in the company and new positions open up, or when they are ready for a career change, employees find that they need to add a new set of skills to their arsenal. We refer to the process of learning to adapt to situations like these as “reskilling” and it’s a great way to close talent gaps in an organization. To achieve successful reskilling, businesses typically look for employees with adjacent skills that can easily evolve to fit their needs. The sheer amount of technological advancement we’ve seen has required retraining a large portion of the workforce.

What are the differences between retraining and upskilling?

Businesses often consider retraining and upskilling as two terms that refer to the same thing. However, they are two different techniques with different purposes. Since we have already defined retraining, let’s see what upskilling is. Where retraining prepares employees for different positions within their company or a whole new career, upskilling means enriching their knowledge base so that they are more effective in their current role. In other words, it involves creating a culture of continuous learning and improvement to achieve higher levels of engagement and profitability.

Another difference between retraining and upskilling is when businesses choose each technique. There are a number of scenarios where reskilling is necessary, one of which is to retain valuable employees whose roles become obsolete due to outsourcing, internal transfers or the implementation of a new type of technology. Retraining can also be used for new hires who need to take on a position with highly specialized responsibilities. On the other hand, upskilling is best for current members of your workforce and ideally during times of change. This could be related to the introduction of new software or an employee training program on product knowledge or soft skills training and so on.

4 benefits of retraining you need to know about

Now you know what retraining is and when you need to use it. But the question still remains: why is it so important? Here are 4 benefits of retraining you should know about.

1. Stay versatile and agile

The business world is constantly undergoing changes that few of us can predict. The only thing you can do to make sure your business continues to thrive is to make sure your employees are well equipped for the future. By identifying their current capabilities and investing in their professional development, you help your employees hone their skills and reach their maximum potential. At the same time, your business as a whole becomes less sensitive to external developments such as talent shortages or unexpected changes such as the rapid shift to remote working.

2. Identification of hidden talents

Businesses often take their employees for granted, use them only within the scope of their role, and do not further explore or exploit their talents. This could lead to wasted resources or even high turnover. Retraining your employees puts you in the process of identifying and assessing everyone’s skills, which can lead to unearthing hidden talent. For example, an assessment phase that precedes training may help you detect leadership tendencies in a lower-level employee or strong communication skills in an employee who does not typically interact with clients.

3. Increasing talent retention and attraction

Knowing your employees’ strengths and weaknesses will help you better match the right job to the right person. This way, your employees will get more satisfaction from their work because they are using their full potential. Not to mention, when employees see that their organization is taking the time to support their development, they feel valued and are more likely to remain loyal over the long term. In addition, creating a culture of continuous improvement can be very beneficial to your brand image. It can attract high-quality clients and new talent who want to take their next professional step with a company that openly appreciates and supports its employees.

4. Managing Success

Having said all that, it’s easy to see how retraining can help your business become more successful. Between building an internal talent pool and creating a culture that attracts new candidates with valuable skills, reskilling can give your company all the tools to become a leader in your industry. Take into account the agility that constant learning helps you develop, and you’ll be confident that no sudden changes or transitions can limit your momentum, because you’ll always have the skills needed to adapt quickly.


With the digital revolution affecting more and more aspects of our daily lives, embracing development is the only way forward. As a result, more and more businesses are accepting that retraining is one of the most valuable tools to keep their employees productive and their business successful. In this article, we looked at what reskilling is, how it differs from upskilling, and what benefits you should expect from its implementation. Hopefully, the information we’ve shared in this article has cleared up the confusion surrounding these two terms and helped you understand which approach is more appropriate for your business needs. You can also check out our list of the best upskilling and reskilling content providers that are easy to outsource.

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