A vacancy appears. Do you upskill or recruit?

Human Resources 3rd July 2019

Of course, this is really a trick question. If you choose to upskill, then you’ll still need to recruit to replace the employee you’ve upskilled.

So, a better question would be – A vacancy needs to be filled. Do you recruit or do you upskill-and-recruit?

Whether the vacancy has arisen because your business is expanding or because a team member has departed, the dilemma is the same. There are cost and resource implications whichever route you take.

The recruit-only option

Let’s say you decide to fill your vacancy via straightforward recruitment. Initially, this might appear the preferable option. In partnership with your recruitment agency, you search, you interview, you appoint and finally, you onboard. All’s well. You’ve followed a single well-trodden path.

Why would you even consider the alternative route? You spend time and money training a current employee to a higher skill level. Simultaneously, you go through the recruitment process to replace them in their previous role.

Upskill & recruit

Let’s look more closely at this route. Maybe it has more going for it than is at first apparent. Upskilling your team doesn’t have to cost the earth. Nor does it take forever to execute.

You need to

– be clear about the skills needed for the vacant role

– understand who in your team is able and willing to be trained

– prepare to address attitude as well as skills. There’s more to stepping into an elevated role than just a new array of skills. How your people approach their work and relate to colleagues is just as important.

– be prepared to implement the right training strategies

Consider these options –

Personal Development Plans (PDPs) 

PDPs are one of the very best ways to provide ongoing learning and development for staff at any level. You could set PDPs for staff as a standard. Managed properly, they’ll enable your people to effectively build their skills and knowledge. PDPs will give them ownership of their professional development, ensuring that you’re building the right skills across your business.

Make the most of in-house talent

Are you sure you’re not overlooking the talent that already sits within your team? Most of your people are in their role because of a specific skill set which they employ day in, day out. Wouldn’t there be a benefit in making use of this in-house expertise? You could set up an internal training programme within your business? With structured knowledge-sharing and collaboration, you’ll move towards closing any skills gaps you might have.

Seminars and courses

While developing talent in-house is a great way to spread skills and know-how, it won’t enable you to easily introduce new skills to your business. The solution? External courses and training. One benefit is that, once a select number of your team are equipped with these new skills, you can begin the process of spreading the knowledge throughout the rest of your team.


This involves allocating time slots throughout the week, allowing staff to pursue new skills, via instructional videos, online tutorials or even mobile apps.

Monthly lunch-and-learn sessions

Experts, either from outside or within your organisation share information about what they do and how it fits into the business. You’ll be surprised how much collaboration and idea sharing occurs during these sessions.


Especially suitable for more junior employees. You pair them with experienced people and allow them to benefit from their experience and know-how.

More than meets the eye

There are hidden benefits to the upskilling route that might not be immediately apparent. The impact on employee engagement can be immeasurable. When your people observe how committed you are to develop their skills and careers, investing in them as individuals, they will feel truly appreciated. In the long-term, your organisation will benefit from a team that feels strong, secure and motivated, helping them to become brand advocates for your business.

Upskilling your team isn’t just about making sure you have the right skills to achieve your goals. It’s about planning for the long-term future of both your business and your people. Regular training and development is one of the strongest retention tools in your arsenal. 

Whether you go for the recruit-only or the upskill-and-recruit option, we’re perfectly placed to advise. Whichever route you choose, find out more about how we can offer support.

Here to help

As experts in Employee Engagement & Retention, we understand the respective value of upskilling and recruitment.

For straight-talking advice on all aspects of HR, call us – 01604 763494

Or email – info@GravitasHR.co.uk

It’s our pleasure to keep our clients happy

  • Zinc
  • Growth Deck
  • Billing Finance
  • Shoosmiths
  • PBC
  • hdn
  • Millers Consultancy
  • Pyke Smith Cutler
  • LMH
  • Baker Taylor