The need for employees to future-proof their careers has never been greater. According to the ‘How will automation impact jobs?’ report by PwC, by the mid-2030s, an alarming 30% of all employment will be at risk of being automated. As the threat of increased digitalisation looms over us, particularly AI enabling greater automation, and workplace trends like the ‘Great Resignation’ and ‘Quiet Quitting’ continue to cause uncertainty in the market, companies are increasing efforts into upskilling their existing employees rather than hire new talent.

From targeted training programmes to incentives for continuous learning, the benefits of upskilling your technology employees cannot be overstated. Companies that take proactive measures to invest in the growth and development of their existing workforce could see cost reductions and better retention of their top performers.

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and Asia-Pacific (APAC) is no exception. Although the Middle East region is pioneering with global technological advancements, reskilling is becoming imperative as organisations aim to mitigate the ongoing global war for top tech talent and combat the ever-growing skills gap. Market research showed that 76% of employees in the UAE have either changed jobs in the past year or are planning to in the next 12 months, with 43% stating professional development and skills growth as the reason.

In Hong Kong, one study showed that 47% of the organisations involved thought it was very important to upskill employees, with reducing skill gaps (55%), promoting talent retention (65%) and preparing for organisational growth (82%) seen as the top 3 benefits. Additionally, in Singapore it is reported 97% of organisations felt concerned about employee retention, with 77% of those surveyed saying that they had started using learning opportunities to improve employee retention.

In this article, we’ll outline how to develop a comprehensive upskilling strategy that aligns with your company's goals and your employees' career aspirations, so that your organisation can create a more engaged and motivated team, reduce talent costs, and retain your top performers.


Identify skill gaps in your team

According to research by Equinix, IT leaders in the APAC region have serious concerns about staff retention and recruitment, with more than 85% of businesses reskilling IT employees in response to the growing tech skills gap. As well as 42% of companies in the MENA region reported ‘encouraging reselling and continuous learning’ as very important’.

That said, if organisations are to effectively accelerate their reskilling strategy to stay ahead of the curve, first they need to identify the skills gaps within the organisation. Without a clear understanding of your team's strengths and weaknesses, it's impossible to build an effective upskilling programme. By conducting thorough performance reviews, assessments, and discussions with team members, you can gain valuable insights into what skills and knowledge your team lacks. This information can then be used to create a targeted training programme, ensuring that your employees receive the training they need to excel in their roles whilst also promoting a culture of continuous learning in your organisation.


Showcase salary increases and equity raises for upskilling 

When you consider that a staggering 54% of employers in Hong Kong and 61% of employers in Singapore have had to increase salaries to retain existing employees in the last 12 months, it’s apparent that simply offering training programmes may not be enough to motivate employees to engage in upskilling.

One powerful way to drive the upskilling process is to offer financial incentives for those willing to learn in the form of salary increases, bonuses, promotions and equity raises. Not only does this provide employees with a tangible reward for investing their time and effort, but it also demonstrates a company's commitment to its employees' growth and development. By incentivising upskilling, companies can build a more skilled workforce, which can lead to improved productivity, innovation, and better bottom-line results.


Tailor your training programme

Creating a training programme that meets the diverse learning styles and preferences of your team members is essential for its success. Some employees may learn best through hands-on training, while others may prefer online courses or workshops. By catering to different learning styles, you can ensure that your team members receive training that resonates with them and enhances their understanding.

Additionally, establishing clear objectives and goals for the training programme through effective communication is crucial. This helps employees understand what is expected of them and motivates them to work towards specific outcomes. All the above can help create a training programme that is engaging, impactful, and contributes to the overall success of your team.


Provide hands-on experience

Gaining hands-on experience is a crucial component of any upskilling programme. It not only provides employees the chance to apply newly acquired skills to a real-life setting, but it helps solidify the training, making it more likely to be retained in the long-term. From working on projects to collaborating with other teams, employees can gain practical experience, learn from their mistakes, build confidence in their new abilities.

Furthermore, providing opportunities for employees to apply what they have learned can have a positive impact on job satisfaction and motivation, as employees feel valued and supported in their professional development.


Measure success and adjust training programme as needed

Whether it’s through surveys, feedback sessions or performance reviews, measuring the success of your upskilling programme is crucial for improving its success and identifying the impact on employee retention, job satisfaction, and productivity.

You may also want to consider incorporating new technologies or tools into the training programme to ensure that your employees up to date with the latest trends and developments in their field. By regularly assessing the programme's effectiveness and making necessary adjustments, you can create a training programme that is both effective and innovative whilst also ensuring your team has the skills and knowledge they need to succeed and drive the success of your company.


How can MCG help find the best-in-class technology talent for your organisation

A business is only as strong as its people. So, if you’re looking to fill individual roles due to tech skills gaps, business changes or team expansions, our extensive sector expertise and keen cultural and geographic knowledge will ensure we can work fast to find you what you are looking for.

Our no-nonsense strategic consultancy service will ensure you receive the best-in-class technology talent across the Middle East and Asia. With over 12+ years of success, it’s no wonder we’ve been able to build an unmatched network of recruiters that always deliver – whether it’s contingent, retained, or project-based; both with fast-growing tech start-ups, as well as industry giants.

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