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What ‘Upskilling’ Means For The Future Of Work

Many experts believe upskilling is urgent – but most people don’t know where to start.

Upskilling is one of the most urgent challenges the workforce faces today.

Learning new skills to remain competitive is one of the most important way workforce of the future can future-proof themselves against disruptions such as automation; surveys show nearly 40% of workers fear their job will become obsolete in the next five years. The World Economic Forum also says upskilling is crucial to post-Covid economic recovery.

The message is clear: the workplace is changing rapidly and we need new skills for a new world. But what is upskilling?

That’s according to a report last year from McKinsey, which looked at how upskilling sparks job growth and can tackle equity issues. “Across all education and income levels, what we saw is that over half of want to upskill, but awareness of what exactly to do was one of the biggest barriers,” says future of work analyst Kweilin Ellingrud, senior partner at McKinsey and director of its Global Institute.

Fortunately, experts say anyone can upskill, and there are plenty of resources out there to help us – once we know where to start.

What is upskilling?

The ultimate goal of upskilling is to be a more effective worker, stay relevant, and be more successful in your career. You might even earn more money or gain additional recognition or rewards. 

The skills that are needed in today’s workforce are constantly changing. If you’re not keeping up with those changes, you could miss out on the right opportunities. Skillsets for jobs are changing by around 25%, and by 2027, those skills are expected to double.

We can define upskilling as the smaller skills gaps you are always filling, like learning the Excel skills you need to manage a project’s budget more efficiently, or practicing a few tips to have better sales presentation. Filling these smaller skills gaps can be what gets you better and more productive in your current role and set you up for more opportunities for progression in life and work.

Upskilling can include hard skills and soft skills. It can be anything that help workers do their job a little better.

Upskilling can be different for everyone

Another big part of upskilling is being aware of both your own skillset and also the broad, important trends in your industry.

Take someone who works in oil and gas. It might not be a bad idea to learn more about green energy and electric vehicles. Always take time to step back and see what’s happening in the wider industry, and see how you can get yourself ahead of your competitors.

In marketing or media, on the other hand, would mean spending more time on TikTok to figure out how the app works and how consumer trends are emerging.

Companies have traditionally used classroom training to teach workers how to better do their jobs. But now, you can also find courses online to help you upskill. You can watch YouTube videos, sign up for LinkedIn learning programs, or even take online certifications. This is fast becoming the future of learning.

Upskilling is urgent

Technological know-how and communication skills will be important for everyone in the future. But in the current economy many blue collar workers face more urgent and existential challenges. Those are customerservice workers, food industry workers, manufacturing workers and assistance staff, like administrative assistants.

Workers will find it harder to develop new skills, as they’re more likely to have lower levels of income, lower education levels and less access to upskilling and reskilling resources. So governments, educational institutions and employers must work together closely and strategically to address those systemic issues.

Upskilling and getting ahead

Not only does upskilling help workers get ahead, but it can help them find passion in their work. Experts pointed out that upskilling is a way to motivate oneself. Lots of us have a learning mindset or a growth mindset, and it makes the journey more exciting and more fulfilling if you are learning new things, and pushing yourself in new ways.”

Use the weekend to build the life you want instead of trying to escape the life you have. – Jari Roomer

Perhaps you can consider blocking out an hour on your calendar to figure out ways to upskill, and if your current employer offers training sessions, sign up for them. 

We believe everyone from CEO to front-line worker should explore means to continuously  upskill in some way, because the world around us is changing quickly.

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