Reskilling initiatives: why some fail and some succeed

Reskilling initiatives: why some fail and some succeed

Every organisation needs a learning culture and employees who are properly motivated to improve

According to <i>The Future of Jobs Report 2018</i> by the World Economic Forum, 51% of the workforce in Thailand needs to go through some form of reskilling. This means that half of the graduates in Thailand aren’t ready for the jobs they’re about to take.

So, considering the current need for reskilling and levels of education, how can we, as an organisation ensure that our reskilling efforts will help close the skills gap that the job market is facing? Respelling involves learning, but if learning is not approached and carried out in the right way, a reskilling programme may not deliver the impact it promises. There are three possible reasons for this:

First, every learning process begins with the mindset. The individual who needs to upgrade his or her skills or learn new ones must know why they need those skills, and how having them will benefit not just the organisation, but also as the learner. They must go into the training course with the right intention and openness to learn and grow. 

One of the problems with reskilling is that many times our training programmes come across as vehicles to enforce what the management wants, rather than a personal choice to learn and grow. This results in people merely learning to please someone else, rather than enjoying the process of learning and growing from within.

Second, learning needs to have a specific and tangible return on investment. The reason why many of our training programmes fail is because we did not set the right expectations for what we would get at the end of the programme. 

We put employees in training programmes and expect them to come out with all the solutions and start changing the organisation right away. However, when this doesn’t happen, we become disappointed and frustrated with both the person and the programme for not delivering up to our expectations. 

But the problem here isn’t the learner, but the unrealistic expectations. Before we start any training programme, we need to know what and how much can be achieved. Then, based on individual capacity and learning style, we set specific tangible goals for every individual. Doing it this way will not only provide a clear direction for the learner, but also help them evaluate themselves during the process of learning. This will also motivate them to learn more and do better. 

Third, learning isn’t a one-time event. Some organisations put employees into training programmes once a year, or at a time when they are already facing a crisis. It either becomes irrelevant in terms of the current direction of the organisation, or too late for the skills to be useful in saving the organisation from the crisis. Learning should always be an ongoing, continuous process with proper milestones that offer a clear measure of the contribution and impact of the skills learned. 

When learning becomes a part of an employee’s daily life, they start to see things differently. It helps them build a habit of learning from the situations they face every day. This in turn develops their thinking process so they feel confident about asking questions and looking for answers. Learning shouldn’t just be limited to a particular online or offline course, but can come even from random interactions and communication with people and the everyday tasks we manage.

Finally, learning requires a role model for motivation. Every human, regardless of age, profession or position, goes through emotional ups and downs, and we all need motivation of some form to grow, professionally and personally. Every aspiring learner needs a role model who sets an example of a growth mindset, or a lifelong learner seeking to learn and grow every single day. 

Organisations need to look within their workforce to identify if they have these role models who can set an example for others to follow. If not, they need to train and encourage people with potential to become role models, not just for personal benefit but for the benefit of others and the organisation as a whole. 

Reskilling is the need of the hour; we all agree on that. But unless we have a learning culture within the organisation, no amount of reskilling will serve the ultimate purpose of delivering the new skills our people and the organisation need.

At the end of the day, we reskill not just because we want to meet numbers and statistics, but because we believe in the idea and the purpose of continuous learning and growing with time.

(You can download The Future of Jobs Report 2018 here)

Arinya Talerngsri is Chief Capability Officer and Managing Director at SEAC (formerly APMGroup) Southeast Asia’s Lifelong Learning Center. She can be reached by email at or Experience our lifelong learning ecosystem today at

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