Why Upskilling and Reskilling are the Future of Work

Career statistics show that today, most people should prepare to hold as many as five different careers in their working lifetime. The changing nature of the workplace means that things are constantly shifting; the days of starting out and working until retirement in one industry (and one company, even) are over. In our global economy, the only thing that is certain is change itself, and that very much applies to our working lives. 

Because career shifting now plays a key role in our professional lives, this means that learning doesn’t stop when we graduate university or a training program. In order to stay competitive in the marketplace, we must continue to upskill —  and even reskill —  to meet the demands of the modern workplace. 

This is especially true today, when Covid has impacted numerous industries, which have had an implication on the economy and the jobs market. Industries which have been directly impacted include aviation, travel and retail, to name just three. But there are many others which have been impacted in less obvious ways, even through remote working itself. 

At the most basic level, most of us have had to brush up our digital skills to navigate a new suite of work from home tools. And more significantly, many people have had to rethink their professional careers and shift into other types of work. 

Organic career shift or upskilling?

Before we talk about upskilling or reskilling, it’s important to acknowledge that careers can oftentimes naturally pivot. For example, a teacher may organically continue their career progression towards becoming a head mistress, shifting into a more administrative role. This example demonstrates a natural progression within a career and how transferable skills can make an impact in propelling a career forward. 

However, it is much more common that people upskill their existing careers by taking courses that help them build up new skills related to their existing employment. 

For example, a marketing professional may wish to upskill as a digital marketer. This doesn’t make them a career shifter as such, but it does mean they’ll need to upskill so that they can gain the digital skills necessary to stay relevant in the modern marketing world. 

Even the teacher in the above example may find themselves needing to take an education management course to prepare them for the next step in their career as they originally move away from the classroom and towards the managerial/administrative side of education.

Both examples show us the importance of continuing to upskill in one’s career. Upskilling provides a boost of knowledge that helps people stay relevant in their careers, both as technology advances, and as their career trajectory naturally climbs upwards. 

How can I upskill? I want to maximise my existing knowledge

Now that we’ve established that upskilling is a career-long endeavour, it is important to put some thought into how to best navigate upskilling. What does it entail and how much education is needed to gain additional skills? 

The answer, of course, depends on one’s industry, but there are many options available. For people looking to remain in the same industry or line of work, but looking to increase their skills and knowledge within their sector, there are many courses available today that offer technical expertise and knowledge that can help upskill. 

Fortunately, many of today’s upskilling opportunities are online, so they can be done in the comfort of your home or office and on your own time. 

Online academies such as FutureLearn partner with universities around the world to offer courses that help upskill for particular roles, such as management or data analysis. Many universities also now offer online courses, such as the free computer science and computer programming courses available online from the world-renowned ivy league Harvard University

Other online courses, such as Digital Mums, are aimed at returners to the workplace, who already have training and work experience, but have taken a step back and need to upskill to reenter the workforce. 

What about reskilling? I want a new career!

Reskilling is a bit different from upskilling, in that it involves taking courses that retrain you for an entirely new career, different to the one you previously held. But similar to upskilling, reskilling doesn’t mean you need to go back to university for another four-year degree! There are many courses today that can be completed either in-person after working hours or online, on your own time. 

Many of these types of reskilling courses are compact in their timescales and aimed at working adults. For example, General Assembly offers courses that in just 12 weeks can help you re-train for an entirely new career. Such courses are often intensive and offer a lot of training in a condescended period of time. 

They are valuable because they provide practical learning for individuals looking to gain entry into a specific discipline or career sector, such as software engineering, programming or visual design. 

Taking advantage of reskilling opportunities is best for those who are ready for a completely different professional challenge. Courses that help reskill are also useful to those whose industries may have sadly been made redundant either by the digital revolution or by lockdown, or both. The bottom line is that a career path needn’t stay linear or stagnant. As the job market innovates, so can your career. 

Innovative ways of learning new skills

We’ve mentioned how accessible learning is today, allowing us to upskill or reskill altogether without even having to step foot inside of an educational institution. Online learning has certainly changed the game in just how accessible it can be to propel careers forward. 

In addition to upskilling and reskilling courses as mentioned above, there are some educational institutions that are wholly open and whose mission it is to share skills and knowledge amongst communities. 

One such organisation is 42, a Paris-headquartered nonprofit organisation that also has a campus in California. 42 is unique because it is tuition-free and offers knowledge sharing around coding, allowing students to help one other gain the coding and programming skills necessary to succeed in the computer programming industry. 

Its model has been highly successful, replicated around the world in places such as South Africa, Romania, Ukraine, Morocco, and The Netherlands. 

Another good example of an open educational platform is Google Garage, a series of digital marketing training courses from the search and advertising giant, which helps its students understand and work with tools such as Google Analytics. Such courses can help elevate CVs by demonstrating an understanding of digital marketing. The courses are free and beneficial to maintaining Google’s position in the marketplace by teaching people to use its marketing tools —  so everyone wins. 

Lifelong learning and the future of work

Most of the jobs we will do in 2030 have not been invented yet. While the jobs of the future may not yet exist, the fact is that we must be ready for them. The World Economic Forum calls this the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” and underscores the importance of reskilling as we near the next decade. 

Their research has shown that the jobs of the future will require constant reskilling. In fact, the WEF states that by just next year (2022), 42% of the core skills required to perform existing jobs are expected to change. This is ever more the case as Covid has accelerated digital transformation. 

This is why future-proofing your career is one of the smartest actions you can take today, to ensure your place in tomorrow’s economy. 

To find out how you can ensure your professional future by upskilling, visit our online education portal where you can choose from courses with leading educational platforms such as Kadenze, Alison and Future Learn. There’s never been a better time to expand your knowledge to stay competitive in the marketplace. 

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