Upskilling Staff

A fundamental strategy for personal and professional growth

By Kate Pierson


Throughout life, we each have access to our own specialist skills, from which we retrieve certain tactical tools when they are required. Every individual has a unique skill-set at their disposal and this toolbox is a fusion of intellectual and strategic instruments we have acquired from genetic, familial and social sources.

As the challenges that come with our very existence are accompanied by new and more difficult tasks during the course of our personal evolution, we seek advice, training and guidance to develop new tools we can utilise to deal with any unfamiliar territory.

Our education, personal relationships and particularly our professional lives repeatedly call for the application of various skills and capabilities.

Upskilling staff in the workplace is a fundamental strategy for personal and professional growth. With the economic recovery under way, there has never been a better time for New Zealand businesses to look at upskilling options for management and staff.

Skill seeking

One Auckland based organisation knows all about growing staff and business. As an economic development leader and supporter of its regional businesses, the Auckland Chamber of Commerce exists to help regional businesses achieve their occupational objectives.

Upskilling its own staff is also a priority, chief executive Michael Barnett says. “At the Chamber we encourage people to continue to learn and invest in themselves. If, for example, they wish to finish off studies that are associated with their roles, if they pass, we pay. If they need time and flexibility for this, we provide it. If they identify short courses they believe would benefit them, we allow that participation and fund it. Or, if we identify a course we believe will add value, we offer this.”

Leading by example with its own upskilling regimes, the Chamber provides valuable information on its website for businesses wanting to up the skill ante in their workplace.

Why up-skill?

Perhaps the most obvious benefit attached to upskilling staff is about increasing potential. After all, personal and business potential go hand in hand.

Further training opportunities can also increase employee motivation and result in a more knowledgeable workbase, which opens new doors for professional development and allows for flexibility within the work roster.

But beyond the palpable benefits, it is often the structural constitution of many New Zealand businesses that makes upskilling a vital and necessary practise in these companies. A large proportion of New Zealand business fall into the small to medium enterprise category. Subsequently, staff within these organisations are often required to have a broader skillset they can apply to a multitude of tasks that are beyond their immediate port of call.

But the expectations outlined for staff by their employers are not the only expectations that make upskilling necessary, Barnett attests. “If businesses and their clients have the expectation that they will grow, they need to invest in people. Therefore, upskilling is a survival strategy for our businesses and also for our country,” he explains.

Upskill zone

So you want to upskill your staff but you need inspiration on how to and where to. From local universities, polytechnics and industry training organisations, to your regional Chamber of Commerce, the New Zealand Institute of Management, Business Mentors New Zealand and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE), the options are many. All of these organisations are accessible and open to your enquiry, so get in touch to start the ball rolling.

Barnett also offers additional suggestions for upskilling staff. “Long term study, short courses, online programmes, seminars and in-house updates,” are all strategies he says. And even something as simple as having those who need to learn, working alongside those who know, will promote knowledge gathering and stimulate employee understanding.

Skills are strategic solutions and are available to any individual or company who wants them. For more information on how you can add new skills to your business and staff toolboxes, you can visit the Auckland Chamber of Commerce at The Chamber offers a range of online “how to” documents and presents about 80 to 90 competitively priced seminars and training programmes annually.


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