Upskilling and Reskilling Talent in the Age of AI

As the influx of AI tools makes their way into the office, it will be imperative to understand their benefits and potential drawbacks.

The term “future of work” is a misnomer – work is constantly evolving, often beyond our expectations, and what we once considered the future may already be outdated. At least in the year 2023, we can thank artificial intelligence mainly for that. While the technology behind how we work may change, the significance of upskilling and reskilling talent continues to be a constant. Even in the current climate of economic uncertainty, the acute and pervasive need for skills continues. ChatGPT, Large Language Models (LLMs), and sustainability are just the latest examples of “skill bubbles” emerging in today’s global workforce.

In most cases, these technologies, knowledge, and capabilities are so new or change so rapidly that organizations are unable to fill them through talent acquisition. Business leaders must ensure they invest in employee learning programs to increase retention, enhance satisfaction, and, most importantly, develop the talent needed to fill acute skills gaps. AI can help us reach that goal.

As humans, we are may view artificial intelligence as a threat or mistrust it in some way. Iconic films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Terminator, War Games, and others, dramatize the spectacular failure of AI and the ultimate triumph of humanity. In reality, humanity is not in a struggle against AI. Instead, AI is a powerful augmentation of human innovation and can perform tasks that are too tedious, voluminous, complex, or simply impractical for human beings to perform.

We must consider AI as a new “team member” in this journey. An MIT study found that workers who used ChatGPT saw their productivity increase by 37 percent. While AI can help supplement our work, automation shouldn’t be seen as a means to replace the human workforce. We will realize this when we prioritize learning at work, enabling talent to remain active learners and seek to learn about automation, not be fearful of it. With the help of AI, business leaders can invest in their employees through upskilling and reskilling opportunities to increase retention, enhance employee satisfaction, and develop the talent needed to fill any skills gaps. If it is not a priority, it should be – the World Economic Forum found 1 billion people will be equipped with the skills of the future by 2023.

Upskilling and reskilling the talent of today for the work of tomorrow

As the great knowledge worker recession continues widening skills gaps affecting businesses, upskilling and reskilling talent must be top of mind for leaders. Beyond creating “T-shape” employees – those who can adapt and quickly transition between different roles/needs – making learning a priority can help organizations retain and attract top talent. Almost 63 percent of U.S. workers surveyed by the Conference Board shared they were happy at work due in part to educational and job training programs available at their organizations. Gallup found nearly 50 percent of American workers would jump ship if a new job offered skilling opportunities.

Learning cannot be temporary. Instead, it is imperative to cultivate a culture of lifelong learning for organizations to thrive in the age of AI. Through learning, companies can foster innovation, increase employee engagement, and create a nimble and agile workforce capable of embracing change. Additionally, training initiatives can enhance individual capabilities and help uncover untapped talents within organizations. By providing opportunities for growth and career advancement, companies can retain top talent and nurture a skilled workforce from within.

No two employees’ needs are the same, but regardless of their positions, learners are increasingly turning to training that will help grow power skills like leadership, collaboration, project and team management, adaptability, as well as effective and empathetic communication. A workforce well-versed in power skills is a competitive and competent one; while AI can support various tasks, it can never fill in for empathetic and communicative leaders like your manager in the office or a colleague across the globe.

Harnessing AI in the skilling revolution

While it is difficult to remember a time when we were not talking about AI,  many organizations have been utilizing it in some capacity for quite some time. Some in the media, for example, have looked to AI to help craft headlines or transcribe audio recordings from an interview. At Skillsoft, we have implemented AI to help deliver a more personalized, engaging, and immersive learning experience and are also using it to push the boundaries of learner interactivity and diagnostics while also accelerating the production of new curricula.

With a human in the loop, AI algorithms can better assess a learner’s progress and performance more accurately. By automating assessments and providing instant feedback, AI tools empower employees to identify areas for improvement, track their growth, and iterate on their learning strategies.

Beyond its ability to assess, AI tools can even generate informative responses and suggestions. It will be paramount, though, that human talent is properly trained around topics like “prompt engineering.” The role of “prompt engineers” is quickly becoming a highly sought-after position, as inadequate prompts can lead to flawed and incorrect outputs from generative AI tools.

However, there is still more to learn, given uncertainties surrounding the technology’s capabilities and adherence to ethical and sensible practices. Organizations should establish ethical guidelines and policies regarding the use of AI tools in the workplace, addressing issues such as the appropriate use of data, potential biases, and the responsible deployment of the technology.


As work evolves, learning will be integral in finding success and remaining competitive. Business leaders can tackle any economic uncertainty when they create a workplace that prioritizes reskilling and upskilling talent. As the influx of AI tools makes their way into the office, it will be imperative to understand their benefits and potential drawbacks.

Navigating the ethical considerations, risks, and responsible application associated with AI tools must also be a priority. By embracing these technologies thoughtfully, organizations can create a dynamic learning ecosystem that equips employees with the skills needed to navigate the evolving landscape, ensures continuous growth and adaptability, and fosters a culture of innovation, all while upholding the ethical standards and values of the enterprise.

Mark Onisk
Since becoming Chief Content Officer of Skillsoft in 2018, Mark has been responsible for leading all aspects of its content catalogue, including strategic direction, roadmap and development. Mark previously served SVP of Skillsoft Books, successfully launching the company’s book summary product, increasing the audiobook collection by more than 60% and creating the largest collection of audiobooks in the corporate learning market. Prior to Skillsoft Books, Mark led Skillsoft’s strategic business development, where he worked on cross-functional projects and services teams to deliver integrated learning experiences with key clients. Mark became Skillsoft’s VP, Content Production after the company acquired Element K in 2011. His career with Element K spanned 15 years, where he was responsible for product strategy, content development and operational execution. Mark holds an MBA from the Rochester Institute of Technology and Bachelors of Science in Finance and Economics from State University of New York, College at Brockport.