Five essential ingredients of a successful skilling initiative for tech support engineers

6 min read

March 23, 2022

Tech support organizations must continually invest in training to be able to support their customers when a new product is released. But some leaders find that the reskilling and upskilling initiatives they launch for their Support Engineers are not as successful or sustainable as they should be, with the outcome being skills gaps, open positions and challenges retaining top talent.    

In our latest eBook “Upskilling and reskilling tech support staff: a guide for Tech Support Leaders on how to overcome barriers and size opportunities“ we provide actionable steps to implement a successful skilling program that delivers long-term benefits with five essential ingredients.  

1. A framework to categorise skills 

A strong and sustainable skilling initiative is always data-driven; when you can successfully map the skills of your Support Engineers you can start to identify gaps, fill specific roles, and design the necessary training to move forward. To make this happen you need to have a uniform and standardized framework that categorises and describes all the skills across your support teams.  

This is likely to cover both the technical and soft skills that matter. With this foundation in place, you are in a stronger position to take a systematic approaching to recording skills, allowing you to build up data and leverage insights to plan your skilling initiative.    

2. A robust validation process 

Some companies record the expertise and skills of their Support Engineers though a self-declared process. But these declarations are highly subjective and lack uniformity, ending up with skills data that is not trusted and has little value.  

When you establish a robust and transparent validation process for describing skills, taking in a variety of data inputs and involving approval, it can transform a skilling initiative. It raises the quality of your data so you can use it to analyse skills gaps, trust the skills attributed to individuals, and set the foundation for other valuable outputs such as the introduction of personalized learning and career paths.  

3. A personalized view for every individual 

Some skilling initiatives fall short because they are too generic; individual engineers go through training they don’t need or is pitched at the wrong level, simultaneously wasting time and disengaging employees.  

Learning programs should be personalized to each employee; when you focus on the individual and have a skilling plan and learning journey that is based on their ability, needs and aspirations, the effects are powerful. Learners are more motivated. Training is better aligned to personal and organisational objectives. It can even support deeper goals like improved employee retention.  

4. Individual career paths mapped to skills 

As well as providing a personalized learning plan for the individual, a successful skilling initiative needs to clearly illustrate how it fits into a support engineer’s own wider personal development and career plans. When you show the “why” for the employee and it sets a wider context for learning, it transforms the view of skills development across your organization.  

The best way to do this is through providing individual career paths which shows how a person might progress through their time in employment, and how improving their skills fits into this. Providing individual career paths that are mapped to skills will help you to drive training adoption, retain your very best talent, and improve the employee experience.  

5. Enterprise-wide reach 

Having a true enterprise-wide reach for any skilling initiative maximises its value and its sustainability. Limited and local departmental approaches to skilling tend to be ineffectual and siloed, but when you have a wider, standardized approach that a wide group of stakeholders buys into, it avoids fragmentation and generates opportunities.   

An enterprise-wide skilling initiative opens up talent mobility beyond just engineers – for example strong performers from other parts of your company who wish to retrain and join your support team. It also helps embed skilling into key HR processes such as employee onboarding and underpin a culture of learning.  

Download the free eBook now