A Transformative Approach to Upskilling

Learning and Development (L&D) has a pivotal role in workforce transformation. Even before the pandemic and Great Resignation, L&D teams have supported digital transformations, workforce transformations, and cultural transformations. The recent changes in how we live, shop, play, and work, and the increase in attrition has highlighted the need for organizations to be proactive in their ability to quickly up- or reskill their workforce.  

Additionally, according to LinkedIn’s 2022 Learning Report, people want to learn — especially in difficult times. If not given the opportunity to do so, they will look for new opportunities. In fact, according to the LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report, 94% of employees say they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their learning and development. During the pandemic, according to TalentLMS, 65% surveyed indicated they sought out training on their own. “The majority looked for online courses that would help them develop soft and hard skills related to their current role.” 

These numbers are important to understand, as in the same survey, only 35% of employers indicated they have an official upskilling or reskilling program in place. Your efforts in upskilling will only be as effective as they are useful to those taking the training. So how can you ensure you not only get the most out of your up- or reskilling efforts, but get learners engaged and excited?  At Ardent Learning, we like to use the Discover, Analyze, Plan, Execute approach as a framework for success when setting up or envisioning an up- or reskilling effort.



At a very high level, the goal of this phase is to align with your stakeholders on their vision for future skills. Determine “who” would benefit from an up- or reskilling program, “what” would interest them, and “how” these efforts would be accessed by the end users. Here are some elements to keep in mind: 

  • Pull together stakeholders who have access to the right information and data.  
  • Leverage existing data, job descriptions, and/or performance progression models, and identify areas where you need more information.    
  • Determine what additional data you would like to collect to help measure success factors. 
  • Set the tone and get aligned — Collaborate not just on the areas of focus for your up- or reskilling initiative, but on the vision, goals, and measures of success for the efforts.


The intent for this phase is to assess the information, thoughts, and ideas collected in the Discover phase and continue your upskilling transformation by creating a complete current-to-future state map and report. Watch out for the following: 

  • The report must be grounded in the current reality for the end user and outline areas of focus that will help reimagine a future that is possible through participation in the upskilling or reskilling efforts.  
  • Determine skills related to current and future roles, what skills are necessary to progress; consider what it would take to develop a skills inventory or career mapping by skill. 
  • Determine ways to ensure your efforts will bring comfort not chaos or add more to stressful situations. Would career mapping, mentorship, or cohort learning be beneficial? Can you tie learning to rewards? 



Focus on creating a blueprint that includes your recommended approaches and strategies for rollout, adoption, and communication to make the up- or reskilling efforts come to life. Here are some suggestions: 

  • Tie efforts into your corporate cultural values, company mission and vision, or other initiatives that might drive excitement versus trepidation. 
  • Make sure to include high-level timelines, primary design elements, how and when the initiative will be developed, as well as any challenges or risk mitigation plans for implementation.  



The primary goal of this phase is to design, develop, implement, and operationalize all elements of your blueprint. To ensure the successful execution of your vision, consider the following: 

  • Help people get started with robust communication strategies that drive excitement and engagement.   
  • Test and retest all design elements to make sure end users understand how to participate and interact. 
  • Collect data, data, and more data. Find out how employees like the effort, and what they would keep or improve.    
  • Celebrate successes!

The key to successfully developing a transformative upskilling initiative is to tie your efforts into the day-to-day business, while actively engaging your employees. These four steps Discover, Analyze, Plan, and Execute lay the foundation for a proactive and transformative approach. It will help employees acquire and improve skills that are crucial to your organization’s growth all while tapping into what motivates them to learn!    

Whether you are looking to develop an upskilling initiative or launching a new program, we partner with our clients to ensure their initiatives are successful by empowering employees with the tools and knowledge they need to thrive. Contact one of Ardent's Learning Consultants to explore how we can help.


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