Demystifying Upskilling and its Benefits

Articles Posts about SCS

By Matthew McGrath

Adult students in a learning environment.

People are innately curious. Most of us are life-long learners whether we realize it or not.

Have you ever got lost in a Wikipedia hole or spent hours watching YouTube “How-to” videos?

But when it comes to our careers, there can be some hesitancy. 

We’ve all heard the call from organizations and educators about the importance of life-long learning—and it sometimes falls on deaf ears. We may be resistant to change or cannot find the time in our busy lives. But with new technologies and digital transformation rapidly reshaping the economy and job market, this call to action is increasingly hard to ignore. 

This is where upskilling comes in. 

What is upskilling? It’s the process of acquiring new career skills. Easier said than done. 

Upskilling also involves considering the shifting economy, environment, and technology to assess the core competencies required for established, new, and emerging jobs. It is an industry-wide phenomenon taking place as we speak. 

One of the main reasons behind the push towards upskilling is the widening skills gap in many industries today. According to The Future of Jobs Report 2020, the core skills for most jobs will change drastically in the next five years, and 50% of all employees will need to upskill or reskill to keep pace with new technology. It is no wonder companies like Amazon and Google are pouring funds into adult learning initiatives. It is becoming a part of the hiring process, a definite step in the right direction.

But to make sure that Canadian workers are prepared for the future of work and the widening skills gaps in many industries, there needs to be a significant movement toward upskilling. So, let’s talk about the benefits of upskilling and why you should consider this vital step in your career.

Future-proof your career

Upskilling involves a certain amount of forecasting to see which skills will be relevant tomorrow. For example, take the widespread availability of certain technologies like artificial intelligence and cloud computing along with the surge of disruptive, consumer-centric organizations. These changes are transforming traditional job roles into something else or wiping them out entirely. 

In our last blog post, “The Key to Thriving in Tomorrow’s Workplace,” we highlighted the World Economic Forum’s Reskilling Revolution report. The report estimates that in the next five years, machines are poised to take over nearly 85 million jobs. It also cited that an influx of new technology will radically transform over 1 billion jobs in the next decade.

Only a modern workforce that believes in constantly updating its skill set can meet the demands of tomorrow’s job market. Upskilling can help professionals stay two steps ahead of the industry and become vital to an organization’s success. 

Discover new interests

It is never too late to find a new passion or pivot towards a career you will truly enjoy. For example, if you have spent your professional life as part of a marketing team, you might want to try product management. If you are an IT professional, you could consider a career in cybersecurity or blockchain

Adults sometimes shy away from continuing education programs because it has been too long since they have been in a classroom environment. But the good part about studying as an adult is that you can choose what you want to learn. So, pick something you know you will enjoy. 

Improve your employment prospects

Upskilling involves a change in mindset, an evolution of how we look at the length and breadth of our careers. Organizations are doing their part by acknowledging the need to actively promote employee growth through effective adult learning initiatives. Professionals can take the initiative by recognizing that cross-functional skills like communication, collaboration, people skills, and agile adaptation are just as important as core skills. 

By investing in yourself, you will not only open career advancement opportunities but also make a strong case for yourself as an indispensable part of any organization.

When searching for a new job, the more skills you have will set you apart from the competition. It also signals to hiring managers that you are adaptable and willing to learn and take on new challenges—a great quality to have in any workplace. 

Meet new people/expand your network

During a continuing education program, you will meet like-minded professionals who can support your learning journey and become a part of your expanding network of professionals. 

Also, many emerging roles are collaborative and require you to be able to work in teams towards a solution. Working on projects with your classmates will allow you to practice vital soft skills like teamwork, communication, and collaboration.

Undoubtedly, there are challenges to upskilling, like balancing your personal and professional obligations, getting back to the classroom, and reassessing your career path. But choosing the right program can make all the difference.

Learning is a lifelong journey, so it helps to enjoy every step. If you are ready to take the next step in your career, you can view our continuing education programs here