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Upskilling and reskilling: What is the difference?

Image of Fredrik Selander
Fredrik Selander
Published: Mar 20, 2024
Updated: May 03, 2024


Upskilling and reskilling: what is the difference?

The need for continuous learning and development has become more evident in today's rapidly evolving workplace. As technology advances and job requirements change, employees must stay relevant and adaptable. Two terms often used in this context are "upskilling" and "reskilling." But what do these terms mean, and how do they differ? Let's dive deeper into understanding the nuances of upskilling and reskilling.

As the work landscape shifts, businesses face the challenge of equipping their workforce with the necessary skills to succeed in the changing environment. Upskilling and reskilling have emerged as strategies to address this need, but they are different. Each approach serves a different purpose and has its unique benefits.

Upskilling involves enhancing employees' skills in their current roles, enabling them to perform their tasks more effectively and efficiently. This can include training in new technologies, improving communication skills, or developing leadership capabilities. By upskilling their workforce, businesses can increase productivity, boost employee morale, and stay competitive in a rapidly evolving market.

Reskilling, on the other hand, refers to training employees in entirely new skills to transition them into different roles within the organisation or prepare them for new career opportunities. This could involve teaching coding to employees in non-technical roles or providing sales training to staff members looking to move into a customer-facing role. Reskilling helps employees adapt to changing job requirements and future-proofs the business by ensuring a versatile and agile workforce.


Understanding upskilling and reskilling

Before we explore the differences between upskilling and reskilling, let's first clearly understand each term.

Upskilling and reskilling have become increasingly important terminologies in the current dynamic job market, where technological advancements and evolving industries demand continuous learning and adaptation from employees.



Upskilling refers to enhancing existing skills or acquiring new skills relevant to an employee's current role or future career path within the same field. This involves investing in additional training and development opportunities to broaden an individual's skill set and increase their expertise.
Employers often encourage upskilling to ensure their workforce remains competitive and capable of meeting the industry's changing demands. By upskilling, employees can stay relevant, boost their performance, and advance their careers.


Reskilling involves transitioning from one job or career to another by acquiring new skills. It is a more comprehensive process requiring individuals to learn new competencies to adapt to a different role or industry.

Reskilling is particularly crucial during economic shifts, automation, or industry disruptions, when certain jobs may become obsolete and workers need to reskill to remain employable. It involves a significant investment of time and effort but can open up new opportunities and career pathways for individuals willing to embrace change.


The key differences between upskilling and reskilling

While upskilling and reskilling focus on improving an individual's skill set, several key differences set them apart. 

As the name suggests, upskilling involves enhancing and expanding existing skills within a specific domain. This process is akin to adding layers to a cake—each new skill complements and enriches the ones already in place, resulting in a more comprehensive skill set. 

On the other hand, reskilling is more like baking a new cake from scratch. It requires individuals to venture into uncharted territory, acquiring a completely different skill set that may be unrelated to their current expertise.


Scope of skill enhancement

Upskilling focuses on expanding and deepening existing skills within a specific domain, whereas reskilling involves acquiring a new skill set for a different role or industry.

Delving deeper into upskilling, individuals often engage in continuous learning and development to stay relevant. This could involve mastering advanced techniques, staying updated with industry trends, or gaining specialised certifications. In contrast, reskilling demands a more radical shift. It requires individuals to step out of their comfort zones, embrace unfamiliar concepts, and adapt to new skills that may challenge their existing knowledge.


Depth of skill transformation

Upskilling enhances existing skills by building upon foundational knowledge and competencies. Reskilling, however, requires individuals to acquire new skills from scratch, often involving a more significant transformation of capabilities.

When it comes to the depth of skill transformation, upskilling is like tending to a well-tended garden - nurturing and enhancing what is already there. It involves honing specific skills, refining techniques, and gaining expertise in niche areas. 

Conversely, reskilling is akin to planting a new garden altogether. Individuals embarking on this journey must cultivate fresh skills, learn different methodologies, and adapt to a new knowledge landscape.


Level of career transition

Upskilling enables individuals to progress within their current field or role, allowing for vertical career growth. Reskilling, on the other hand, facilitates lateral or horizontal career transitions, opening up opportunities in entirely new areas.

Considering the level of career transition involved, upskilling often paves the way for vertical progression within an individual's current career trajectory. It equips them with the tools needed to climb the hierarchical ladder, take on more challenging roles, and become subject matter experts in their field. In contrast, reskilling is a gateway to horizontal or lateral career shifts. It empowers individuals to explore diverse career paths, venture into new industries, and embrace opportunities that may lie outside their current professional sphere.


How to implement upskilling and reskilling for employee training in an agile workforce

Now that we understand the differences between upskilling and reskilling let's explore some actionable steps to implement these strategies effectively within an organisation.


1. Define company learning objectives

Start by identifying the specific skills and knowledge gaps your workforce needs to address. Define the learning objectives that align with your business goals and develop a clear roadmap to achieve them.

2. Survey your employees

Engage your employees by seeking their opinions and suggestions. Conduct surveys or hold focus groups to understand their current skill sets, aspirations, and areas where they see the need for upskilling or reskilling. This will ensure the training initiatives are tailored to their needs and interests.


3. Create a training plan

Based on the identified learning objectives and employee feedback, develop a comprehensive training plan that combines internal and external resources. This can include online courses, workshops, mentorship programs, or collaborations with educational institutions.


5. Encourage a culture of continuous learning

Promote a culture of continuous learning within your organisation. Foster an environment where employees are encouraged and supported in acquiring new skills. Provide opportunities for ongoing development and offer incentives to motivate employees to participate in upskilling and reskilling programs.

6. Leverage technology and partnerships

Embrace technology to facilitate employee training and development. Consider partnering with external organisations, such as training providers or industry associations, to leverage their expertise and resources. This can provide access to a broader range of learning opportunities and ensure that the training programs stay up-to-date with industry trends.

Implementing upskilling and reskilling initiatives is not just about ticking off a checklist of tasks. It requires a deep understanding of your workforce's unique needs and aspirations. By investing time and effort into understanding your employees' skill sets and areas for growth, you can develop training programs that truly make a difference.

Furthermore, fostering a culture of continuous learning within your organisation is important. Encouraging employees to embrace new challenges and acquire new skills benefits them individually and contributes to the company's overall growth and success. Creating a supportive environment where learning is valued and rewarded can inspire your workforce to strive for improvement constantly.

Additionally, technology plays a vital role in modern employee training. By leveraging technology, you can provide flexible and accessible learning opportunities, such as online courses and virtual workshops. This allows employees to learn at their own pace and convenience, ensuring that the training programs are effective and engaging.


Upskilling VS reskilling: top tips on which to choose

Now that we have explored the implementation of upskilling and reskilling let's delve deeper into the intricacies of this decision-making process. Making the correct choice between upskilling and reskilling is crucial for the growth and sustainability of your organisation. Let's explore some additional factors to consider when navigating this critical decision.

When deciding between upskilling and reskilling, it's essential to consider the unique challenges and opportunities presented by each approach. Upskilling focuses on enhancing existing skills and knowledge, enabling employees to stay relevant in their current roles and adapt to evolving industry trends. On the other hand, reskilling involves equipping employees with new skills to transition into different roles or sectors within the organisation.


1. Define company learning objectives

Aligning your learning objectives with your overall business strategy is paramount. By clearly defining the skills and competencies needed to achieve your organisational goals, you can determine whether upskilling or reskilling is the most effective way to address existing skills gaps and drive innovation.

2. Analyse skill gaps and market demands

Conduct a comprehensive analysis of the skill gaps in your workforce and compare them against current market demands. By identifying areas where upskilling can enhance employee capabilities and where reskilling may be necessary to meet industry requirements, you can develop a targeted learning and development strategy that aligns with your business's evolving needs.

3. Evaluate the potential for employee engagement and retention

Employee engagement and retention are vital when choosing between upskilling and reskilling initiatives. Understanding your employees' preferences, aspirations, and readiness to embrace new learning opportunities is essential for fostering a culture of continuous growth and development within your organisation. By evaluating the potential impact of upskilling and reskilling on employee engagement and long-term retention, you can create a learning environment that empowers your workforce and drives organisational success.


Empower Upskilling and Reskilling with Lingio's AI-Driven Platform

Upskilling and reskilling are valuable strategies for organisations seeking to adapt and thrive in a rapidly changing workforce. Both approaches have their unique benefits and applications. By effectively understanding the differences between upskilling and reskilling and implementing these strategies, businesses can empower employees with the skills they need to stay relevant and contribute to long-term success.

Transform your team's skill set with Lingio's AI-powered learning platform. Lingio's cutting-edge technology offers a personalised, interactive approach to upskilling and reskilling, making aligning employee growth with your company's goals more accessible than ever. Discover how Lingio can revolutionise training in your organisation. Experience the future of learning - start with Lingio today.



1. How often should food handlers training be conducted for employees?

Ideally, this course should be conducted annually or whenever significant menu changes or allergy-related regulations are updated.

2. Can a complete food allergy learning course eliminate the risk of allergic reactions?

While a comprehensive course about managing food allergies significantly reduces the risk of allergic reactions, it is essential to remember that no training program can entirely eliminate the possibility. Vigilance and adherence to proper protocols are crucial.


3. Should training for identifying allergens include information about food intolerances and common foods with allergic reactions?

While food intolerances differ from food allergies, it is advisable to include information about common intolerances, such as lactose intolerance or gluten intolerance, to ensure employees can cater to patients with diverse dietary needs.

4. What resources are available for companies to access professional food allergy training?

Several reputable organisations offer professional food allergy training services for the hospitality industry. These companies often provide customisable training programs and resources tailored to meet individual establishment's needs. Lingio can provide training for hospitality professionals in this space as well.

Image of Fredrik Selander
Fredrik Selander
Fredrik Selander is the Head of Marketing at Lingio, an edtech company specializing in a Gamified Employee Training. With a passion for technology, aviation, and the limitless potential of generative AI, Fredrik brings a creative and innovative perspective to his work. His love for travel fuels his curiosity, making him a dynamic force in the world of digital marketing.

Table of contents

Upskilling and reskilling: what is the difference?

Understanding upskilling and reskilling

The key differences between upskilling and reskilling

How to implement upskilling and reskilling for employee training in an agile workforce

Upskilling VS reskilling: top tips on which to choose

Empower Upskilling and Reskilling with Lingio's AI-Driven Platform


Begin upskilling your employees today!


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