What is upskilling reskilling and cross-skilling?

Jun 26, 2023

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It has become essential for all companies to rely on the knowledge and skills necessary to remain competitive, either by recruiting new talents or by training employees internally.

3 terms regularly emerge in the world of professional training: upskilling, reskilling and cross-skilling. These different notions make it possible to better define the objectives of a training course and can therefore help a company to adapt to change, to deepen its knowledge and to improve the flexibility of its personnel.

Upskilling, crosskilling and reskilling

Upskilling, reskilling and cross-skilling: what are we talking about?

Upskilling, reskilling and cross-skilling are terms that refer to the acquisition of new skills by an individual either to advance in their career, or to change jobs or even sectors of activity. Although they are often used interchangeably, it is important to note that the three terms have different meanings.

What is upskilling?

Upskilling refers to the acquisition of new skills to progress in one's current activity. For example, a computer developer learning a new programming language. Upskilling thus focuses on professional progression by acquiring additional skills to occupy a higher position or obtain a promotion.

What is reskilling?

Reskilling concerns the learning of new skills to change jobs or sectors of activity, in the case of professional retraining for example.

Reskilling is also used when a company hires an employee who does not have the skills to carry out the tasks entrusted to him and who must therefore be trained before actually taking up his position.

What is cross-skilling?

Cross-skilling, on the other hand, involves learning know-how and interpersonal skills in related fields to improve versatility and acquire new skills that go beyond the scope of one's job description. Cross-skilling often refers to soft-skills but not only.

For example: time management, stress management, management, etc.

Why should cross-skilling not be neglected?

The importance of reskilling or upskilling training is generally well understood by companies, which can see it as an opportunity to both increase the performance and efficiency of its employees, but also their motivation.

Cross-skilling encompasses concepts that are sometimes less tangible, more difficult to measure and less quantifiable or which are not perceived as being able to directly increase the productivity of an employee. Cross-skilling training or those allowing the development of soft skills are therefore less developed.

However, with the changes and new practices in recent years in the professional world, organizations have become increasingly aware of the importance of this type of skill, a guarantee of flexibility for individuals, both in the recruitment of employees and in the development of employees.

Cross-skilling helps strengthen the performance and cohesion of teams. Employees who have developed their soft skills or transversal skills are better able to appreciate the different situations of interpersonal communication and cooperate with more fluidity, especially when it comes to working with other departments.

More specifically, soft skills make it possible to develop the flexibility and versatility of employees who will then be more responsive to situations of change, whether these are developments related to the company's sector of activity, market, or even a change of organization within the company itself. Soft skills are of course essential for good team cohesion and should not be neglected.

As with upskilling or reskilling, cross-skilling training must begin with a skills assessment that will determine the needs of the employee and set a starting point for monitoring the employee's progress in their learning. This skills assessment can also be used, a posteriori, to evaluate the effectiveness of the training, in particular within the framework of a process of assessment of the training of the Kirkpatrick level 2.

The objective assessment of know-how is something quite classic and accessible through the use of questionnaires and quizzes. Soft skills assessment, for which there is no right or wrong answer, is something more complex. With the advancement of technologies and practices, it is now possible to rely on digital tools to reliably assess soft skills.

ExperQuiz, for example, offers types of questions dedicated to soft skills. Combined with more classical questions, it is possible to build assessments that measure hard-skills and soft-skills in order to have a complete view of both training needs and the progress made by learners.

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