With pandemics, rapidly evolving technology, and the introduction of Artificial Intelligence into the workforce, knowing how to stay relevant and keep your career advancing is essential.
Enter, “upskilling.” What is upskilling, you might ask? This practice is critical for both employees and employers alike. Let’s look at what it is, why you need it, and how to apply it to your professional path.
Upskilling is a term that has become more and more buzzed about in the business world amongst HR departments and individuals alike. The act of upskilling is taking your skills and knowledge in a particular area and advancing them, thus making you more valuable.
Upskilling vs Reskilling
Simply put, upskilling is when you learn new skills to advance in your current job whereas reskilling is when you become educated in a new field or trade. Think of it this way – acquiring a Google Ads certification to build on your digital marketing skills is upskilling; learning how to do a new job within your current organization is an example of reskilling.
Why is it important?
Living in the digital age as we do, technology is constantly advancing. More so, according to a report from the World Economic Forum published in October 2020, the rapid acceleration of automation and economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic will shift the division of labor between humans and machines. This will lead to over 80 million jobs being displaced and over 90 million new jobs being created by 2025. Talk about a cultural shift.
Upskilling allows you to “future-proof” your career, so you can better ride the waves of change. Forbes mentions the importance of maintaining a life-long learner mentality, being adaptable to doing things differently, and even collaboration with machines (AI) being integral parts of upskilling.
Closing the Skill Gap
A gap develops between the skills employees have and the skills organizations need them to have. Upskilling closes this gap while assisting with employee retention and boosting employee confidence. Upskilling benefits everyone involved, as Carol Patton at Human Resource Executive, discusses: “Reskilling or upskilling employees is no longer a trend but a survival strategy that fuels or sustains a company’s growth.”
Benefits of Upskilling
Now that you know what upskilling is and why it’s crucial to your future, let’s look at some key benefits.
1. Increase Your Pay
Working on new skills will empower you to bring forward your best work. Demonstrate these skills and show how you are an asset to your company. Asking for a raise might seem difficult, but when you’re prepared with the right tools, you stand on solid ground.
2. Enjoy Work Life
Have you ever felt bored with your job? Shake things up! Through upskilling, you can gain the skills to feel more satisfied and more productive.
3. Personal Development
Enhancing your resume with new skills is also a sure way to enhance your confidence. Learning something new keeps your brain sharp and your cup full.
4. Make A Change
Grab that promotion you’ve been dreaming about. Go for the interview with the new company. Go out on a limb and make a change! Upskilling puts the power in your hands to find new opportunities, new passions, and maybe even a new career!
Areas to Upskill
A skills gap in the workplace can occur in a number of areas, ranging from technical skills to soft skills. There are four main areas you can look to upskill yourself and upgrade your earning potential.
Here are a few examples of each to get you thinking:
- Web development
- Software development
- Social media
- Digital marketing
- Digital literacy
- Critical thinking
- Data science
- Business analysis
- Inductive and deductive reasoning
- Emotional intelligence
- Delegating tasks
- Ability to take risks
- Ability to provide constructive feedback
To get started on your upskilling journey, there are a number of ways you can proceed. Determine what gaps you need to fill, what is available to you right now, and take a step forward towards “future-proofing” your career.
Consider some of these options:
- Seminars/Webinars: Sometimes held through your current employer, other times available through professional or state/local agencies. This also creates a way to network with others in your industry.
- Virtual courses/Online learning: Growing in popularity and totally accessible, there are a number of free and paid online opportunities.
- Mentoring/Coaching: A mentor can be someone you work with, someone you look up to, or someone fresh out of college but possessing the skills you’re looking to acquire. There are even coaching programs that allow you to work one-on-one for the most direct and custom-tailored support.
- Microlearning: If you’re short on time, microlearning may be the best bite-sized way to begin your upskilling.