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reskilling vs upskilling manufacturing

Reskilling vs. Upskilling in Manufacturing - What’s the Difference?

Reskilling and upskilling both help improve retention for your frontline manufacturing workforce with skills development. But what's the difference between the two? Read on to find out.

2 minutes read
Published on 2 November 2023 Updated on 14 May 2024

Are you doing enough to retain your manufacturing workforce?

Lack of career perspective is one of the top reasons people leave their manufacturing job. 

  • 44% of frontline workers in manufacturing are not satisfied with their career prospects. 
  • 53% of frontline workers are considering leaving their manufacturing jobs in the next 2 years.

There’s a growing gap between the skills employers need and the skills workers have. Baby Boomers are retiring, and younger folks aren't staying in their roles for a long time (employee turnover is around 40% in the US at the moment!). 

This talent shortage is creating a major challenge for manufacturers, as they struggle to find the qualified workers they need to keep their operations running smoothly.

So how should factory managers solve this problem? 

reskilling vs upskilling frontline

Reskilling and upskilling will be a major part of the solution.

Access to relevant skills development programs and clear career paths inspire career progression within your organization, and at the same time help build a qualified and confident frontline workforce.

It’s time to talk about developing the skills of your employees with either reskilling or upskilling. 

They’re indeed similar - and the concepts share many of the same components - but they describe two very different methodologies.

Here’s the difference between upskilling vs reskilling in manufacturing:

Upskilling in a current role.

Upskilling is the process of developing new or existing skills that are relevant to a person’s current role in order to either broaden or deepen their area of expertise. 

Even though upskilling doesn’t necessarily lead to a direct promotion, a wider skillset is tied to higher pay (in companies making use of skill-based pay), more responsibility, and priority access to “the better shifts” (you know which ones we’re talking about, and it’s not the third one). 

Upskilling manufacturing

Reskilling to a new role.

Reskilling is about developing new skills in order to transition to a new role within the organization

Very often, reskilling someone into a new role is a smart strategy to retain them. Otherwise, there’s a high risk they’ll leave for more attractive opportunities elsewhere.

By setting up logical reskilling programs, people can transfer to different roles within the same company in order to advance their careers and earn higher salaries.

Reskilling manufacturing

Boosting retention.

Both upskilling and reskilling are important for maintaining a competitive workforce. 

When leaders invest in the skills development of their teams, they’ll have the knowledge and skills needed to be motivated and successful in their roles - both now and in the future. 


Want more skills content?

👉 Here are the benefits of a dynamic digital skills matrix.

👉 Here's a great free template to help coordinate employee development.

👉 Read more about how digital skills development platforms can boost performance and retention.

Picture of Annika

The forever curious CMO of SwipeGuide. Big fan of continuous improvement and people with a growth mindset.

Published on 2 November 2023