Upskilling has become a popular way for companies to address skill gaps that exist in their workforce. It’s something our executive search professionals have seen an increase in popularity with all types of organizations as they prepare for upcoming skill gaps. According to a McKinsey survey, 87% expect to see skill gaps develop within the next 5 years. 

In a time when things are in constant flux and companies need to make adjustments, your average training session is not enough to ramp up your employees. Specific, targeted, and strategic skill development is needed. Below, our recruiters dig into the proper approach to help your employees upskill. 

executive search toronto how to help employees upskill


More Training Is Not Necessarily The Answer 

The reality is that more training is not the answer to put your company and your people in a position to succeed now and in the future as technology and best practices continue to change over time. People are already overloaded with information and bombarding them with one-size-fits-all information during training sessions is not the answer. 

“More training is not the answer. We can’t simply send employees to workshops focused on whatever proficiency is fashionable at the moment and expect to get results. What is essential is to build coherent skills-based strategies. We must think seriously about which specific skills are to be targeted, who has to learn them, and what mix of education, experience, and exposure will be effective to create the skills-based organizations we need to meet the challenges of the future,” says Greg Satell, Abhijit Bhaduri, and Todd McLees in their recent article on Harvard Business Review

Practice Makes Perfect

Education and instruction are not enough to plug skill gaps. There needs to be a practical element to training to ensure that people learn how to practically apply new skills in their jobs. 

Enter the 70/20/10 Learning Model

The 70/20/10 model is a combination of education, experience, and practical application. Less emphasis is placed on education and more time is focused on implementing the skills you are learning. 

Satell, Bhaduri, and McLees, break down this new approach to upskilling:

  • 10% Formal Instruction (Education): This is where standing training starts and stops. This is your standing training session or webinar. 
  • 20% Social Learning (Exposure): This step is focused on learning from and with others. It can include coach and mentoring that provides employees with personalized attention. 
  • 70% Learning in the Flow of Work (Experience): This is on-the-job training where you can apply the new skills you learned in a real-time environment. This is where real implementation happens. 

The 70/20/10 model offers employees so much more than traditional corporate training. It puts people in the position to do more than just learn a new skill. It allows people to implement these skills and make them part of their workflow. 

Skill development will be a constant in the future. The reality is that most in-demand skills in the future have yet to be identified. So, companies that can effectively help their employees upskill will have an advantage. 


More Insights From Our Executive Search Team in Toronto

What Is Upskilling? 5 Reasons to Invest in It

How “Microcredentials” Can Help You Stand Out From the Crowd

Are You Prepared for the Future of Work?

Bruce Powell Executive Search

Bruce Powell

Bruce co-founded IQ PARTNERS in 2001 and currently operates as Managing Partner. His personal background includes hands-on management experience in sales, marketing and marketing services. He has built management teams for a wide variety of marketing, communications, media and technology companies. He has also participated in several M&A transactions for service-based companies and is frequently called upon as a resource in the planning and negotiation of such deals.

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