People often consider a degree and a steady job as a destination and not a doorway to further possibilities and career changes. After all, up to this point, studying took up the biggest part of your life and you put in a lot of work to get that diploma or degree.
You’ve done your part and now it’s time to sit back, collect a paycheck and wait for retirement, right? Not if you want to advance in your career or explore the possibilities of a new one!
Reskilling and upskilling in today’s global climate
There is a sudden surge of upskilling and reskilling in the post-pandemic scramble to set workplaces and the global economy on a normal trajectory again. Continuous development, however, long enjoyed the spotlight before COVID-19. Technological advances and changing work practices forced companies to reevaluate the need for some jobs. Developing or learning updated or new skills is a given in a dynamic global market.
Expert surveys and reports show a definitive focus shift to building skills and competencies. The value of continued learning dispelled conventional beliefs that further training isn’t necessary. However, what was valid or needed in the past may not be relevant today or in the years to come. Some occupations are slowly dying out in the shadow of new initiatives.
COVID-19 shined a stark spotlight on the fragility of certain jobs, causing many people to struggle with pay cuts or downsizing. For some, it was an opportunity to reevaluate stagnant careers or those slowly being replaced by automation and artificial intelligence. Today’s job market revolves around continued learning and growth. Constantly changing technologies and discoveries introduce new methods and principles affecting most industries. A job may make ends meet, but further learning advances your career.
Recent research by LinkedIn found that 25% of its members’ skills for the same occupation changed over only six years. Let’s take a closer look at the drivers behind the upskilling and reskilling evolution.
Ever-decreasing talent pool in a technological age
A decline in the world’s proverbial talent pool is creating a skills gap in many industries. This means experienced hands and minds are retiring, and there are not enough young and upcoming employees to fill this void.
Technology is addressing these challenges to an extent, but as more and more companies embrace the digital era, the need for digital knowledge is growing. This means there is a significant shortage of employees who can work in automated, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality environments.
Analysts and corporate consultants highlight the lack of digital skills as a growing problem. This is evidenced by how much quicker advances develop compared to the pace at which companies recruit and retain competent employees.
This situation leaves businesses with one solution: train and retrain workforces to meet the demands of fast-paced developments. This is where the value of upskilling and reskilling can be seen. As technology replaces some human operations, workforces need reskilling to fulfill different roles. Keep in mind that technology also creates new jobs that did not exist a few years ago, so it’s not really a case of the “machines taking over”; it’s a matter of learning skills to be able to perform these new jobs.
There is currently a talent gap in the tech industry. Drastic changes require more than just upskilling, and more often than not, the acquisition of completely new skill sets is necessary. It is predicted that by 2030, more than 85 million jobs may not be filled due to a lack of digital talent. The economic impact of this scenario, which is expected to be around $8.5 trillion, is staggering. Reskilling and upskilling offer ways to navigate these challenging waters. By equipping yourself with updated or new skills, you can stay ahead of an ever-changing economic landscape and work market.
Although the raging fires of COVID-19 have been reduced to dying embers, the effects of this disease are still prevalent. It caused unprecedented unemployment rates.
Many companies halted their upskilling and reskilling programs when the coronavirus hit. This left many feeling inadequate to perform their jobs, and some individuals started reviewing their current situations and initiated their own learning to ensure relevancy and employment should something similar to COVID-19 occur again. These events merged and caused what has been termed the Great Resignation.
The Great Resignation
The Great Resignation refers to the significant number of people quitting their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic. Although COVID-19 started this trend, it is still ongoing. The main reasons people are resigning include feeling disrespected and undervalued by their employers. Stagnation in jobs with no prospects of promotion also features as a top motivator. The experience of lockdowns also pushed a lot of jobs online, and many people prefer to seek online or remote jobs now instead of dealing with the travel and relocation associated with certain roles.
A recent study found that approximately 50 million people in the U.S. quit their jobs in 2021, while a further 4.4 million resigned in February 2022. Learning and development are crucial considering these statistics as they provide a magnet for companies to keep their workers while providing a platform for employees to seek new opportunities in diverse industries.
The difference between reskilling and upskilling
At first glance, these terms seem synonymous. However, they are different concepts that require unique approaches for unrelated goals. This distinction is especially important when developing associated learning programs.
Upskilling refers to continuous learning and training. It keeps your skills relevant and entails mastering new technologies, models, and business changes. These directly relate to your current job and designation.
Reskilling is when you acquire new or expanded skills for a job that is different from your current one. Essentially, it’s preparation for an alternative occupation, entailing added responsibilities or a complete change. Employers mainly use upskilling in promotions and succession planning as candidates already have the necessary core skills. Sometimes, companies combine upskilling and reskilling to simultaneously hone acquired skills and teach new ones.
In a nutshell, upskilling is what you do when you learn updated skills, while reskilling equips you with a set of new skills for a different occupation. This distinction is important when considering a different career path.
How to approach reskilling for a new career
A career change is a daunting prospect, especially if you’ve been doing the same job for some time. Likewise, acquiring new skills is not always easy. However, in light of changing economic and labor landscapes, reskilling for a different occupation is a modern-day reality.
People understand the need for reskilling but are often uncertain about the exact demands. You can shine a light on these uncertainties by addressing some key questions.
Does your chosen job have a future?
Some jobs have a future, and others are a dying breed. Before rushing headlong into a new career choice, take the time to evaluate its viability against existing realities and future possibilities.
It is predicted that robotics and artificial intelligence will replace many functions while simultaneously creating new opportunities. Keep factors such as these in mind when placing a new career under the microscope. Some jobs, such as technology, research, and healthcare professionals, are more viable than others, such as office support workers, food service employees, and cashiers. Choose wisely to avoid another career change in the short run.
Do not let fear of the unknown hold you back, however. Explore all possibilities and weigh up the pros and cons. A 2020 LinkedIn study discovered that approximately half of all employees who converted to an AI-related profession migrated from unrelated occupational backgrounds. Similar trends were found for engineering, content management, and sales-oriented jobs.
Which skills do I need?
Once you’ve decided on the job you’d like to pursue, it’s time to take stock of the skills you have and the ones you need. You may be surprised how many of your existing competencies are useful for this new career.
This comparison highlights the shortages you must address and creates a starting point for your reskilling journey. It enables you to examine the courses on offer and details the additional training you will need to bridge your identified skills gap. When performing this audit, remember to list and compare similar skills as well. For example, stock management is transferable and similar in most industries. Even if the details vary, the principles of performing the task remain the same.
The so-called soft skills remain high in demand. They provide a workable foundation for any profession. These include:
- Critical-analytical thinking
- Digital proficiency
What is the best reskilling choice for my new job?
Although a shift toward digitized models was already being adopted in the pre-pandemic years, the coronavirus undeniably accelerated the process. Some businesses find it easier than others to establish and offer feasible virtual services.
Education is one industry that, for the most part, seamlessly integrated its various offerings into e-learning. This means you can reskill while working and still earn an income.
Choosing an online institution for reskilling is as important as your new career option. You’ll find various universities and other establishments in the virtual space. Compare these and look at the detailed breakdown of each course. You must consider:
- How long it takes to finish a chosen course. This will affect everything from when to start applying for your new job to essential financial planning.
- Flexible enrolment options, especially when you combine reskilling with a full or part-time job.
- The accreditation and reputational standing of the online learning institution. Keep in mind that non-accredited qualifications are seldom recognized or accepted.
In other words, do your homework thoroughly. If you consider a career in nursing, Marymount University Online is an authorized institution that offers a choice of high-quality online nursing courses from a bachelor’s in nursing science to a post-master’s doctor of nursing practice. These courses focus on advanced clinical education coupled with service-oriented learning that arms candidates with excellent skills and knowledge.
How can I fund my reskilling endeavors?
As with everything, education costs money, and reskilling is no exception. You should decide how much you can and are willing to spend. If you’re short on funds, you can always explore different financing options. Many people are facing financial difficulties in the wake of the pandemic.
Some governments run funding programs specifically aimed at upskilling and reskilling to help people get back on their feet. For example, in the United States, the CARES Act 2020 Education Stabilization Fund: Reimagine Workforce Preparation made $126 million available to the states hardest hit by the pandemic. Keep in mind, however, that these funds are dedicated to specific courses addressing crucial skills gaps.
In addition to state-supported funds, you can investigate options such as loans or affordable payment schedules offered by some institutions. Overall, online courses are more affordable than their brick-and-mortar counterparts.
Explore any upskilling and reskilling programs offered by your current employer. Many companies dedicate a great deal to upskilling and reskilling to retain valuable employees. This option also keeps you in a familiar environment and gives you a foot to stand on when negotiating a better position. Addressing these questions provides you with a solid foundation for further planning. It’s the essential information you need before embarking on a reskilling journey and career change.
The benefits of reskilling
Reskilling equips you with the latest knowledge and competencies in a field. This gives you a competitive edge over those whose skills are outdated. When reskilling, you’ll learn the digital essentials that are applicable to today’s technologies. Simply stated, reskilling makes you relevant. When you combine it with upskilling, you stay relevant.
Companies driving upskilling and reskilling agendas in their learning and development programs have a much better chance of retaining employees. It improves job satisfaction and makes people feel valued as a company invests time and money in them. Combining upskilling and reskilling with clear progression planning helps to fight employee attenuation. Nurturing a corporate culture where learning and development are a priority can attract and retain employees.
Reskilling addresses the skills gap. It offers individuals and companies the opportunity to learn what is relevant in the modern-day marketplace. Additionally, it cultivates attitudes of continued learning and emphasizes that growth has no ceiling.
Reskilling in the healthcare industry
Similar to the tech sector, the healthcare industry had a pronounced and growing shortage of skilled workers that was seen even before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 was merely the final straw in a long line of decline.
This disease cast a light on dire nursing shortages leading to an overworked staff that crumbled under the strain. The situation soon snowballed, resulting in mass resignations affecting the entire sector, from lack of patient support to delays at pharmacies due to minimal technicians.
Upskilling and reskilling can address gaps in healthcare services. Once again, COVID-19 underpinned this notion. For example, pharmacy technicians were reskilled to administer vaccinations and conduct tests, while hospitality assistants learned how to perform contact tracing.
As the industry deals with the aftermath of the pandemic, upskilling and reskilling are more important than ever. Teaching people how to take on additional responsibilities helps to some extent, but the true value lies in reskilling – getting more hands-on deck to meet the needs of a sector under constant strain.
Upskilling means companies are training an already-scant workforce to take on more responsibilities. Reskilling, on the other hand, brings in more people and effectively helps to reduce exorbitant workloads.
The healthcare market – regardless of the niche – needs skilled workers at all levels. Reskilling for nursing means you won’t battle to find a position, and your newfound skills will often open various doors in this field. The evolving healthcare landscape is constantly seeking new talent to fill critical gaps in the system.
Does reskilling require a move to a different company?
When you reskill, it doesn’t automatically imply a move to a different company or sector. Reskilling is also an alternative to downsizing a workforce.
This approach allows companies to fully develop employees for roles that suit them. You can enroll in a reskilling segment sponsored by your company and remain with it after completing your course. It simply means you’re training for a different job – for example, someone in accounting who will do better in marketing.
Reskilling is also useful when certain roles become redundant. Instead of firing these employees, a company can retrain them to add value to another role. For example, pandemic front-door security staff can be reskilled as live chat agents on digital shopping platforms.
Businesses can use reskilling to raise the value of existing employees in diverse positions. This ensures employee retention and personal growth for workers.
You may choose to reskill because you feel trapped in a stagnant position with limited prospects, are unhappy with a company’s culture, or simply because a better opportunity presents itself. Regardless of your reason, be sure to properly prepare for the move.
The appropriate training will give you a confidence boost and smooth your transition to a new job. Keep in mind that this reskilling adventure is not the end but the beginning of continued learning and professional and personal growth.