Upskilling: What is it, and Why is it Important?

Careers, Jobseekers / 11 May 2022

Upskilling is learning the skills to fulfil a job role to help your organisation perform at its best. You can gain new skills in several ways, including on-the-job training, classroom learning, and e-learning.Some employers provide ongoing opportunities to develop your skills as you progress through your career. If you’re job hunting, upskilling can improve your employability and help you stand out from the competition.

Upskilling

 

Why is upskilling important right now?


The world is changing rapidly, accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic. As face to face contact reduced, everything seemed to move online. Remote working became more acceptable, consumers got used to online transactions and digital communication, and companies had to adapt quickly to survive.

Employers have come to recognise the value of a cohesive team with a good skills mix that can cope under pressure. As an employee, upskilling sets you apart from the competition, enables you to keep up to date with the changes in your industry and demonstrates your commitment to doing a good job.

 

Which industries value upskilling?


All industries value upskilling as roles and working practices evolve over time. Because of this, the time and effort spent upskilling is never wasted, as your new skills show a willingness to learn and could benefit your practice and advance your career. Employers are likely to facilitate your development if it directly supports the company’s vision and strategy.

However, in industries that are particularly fast-paced and constantly evolving, upskilling is not only highly valued but essential. In these industries, companies expect employees to identify their learning needs and be willing to upskill as necessary.

These fast-changing sectors include:

IT and software

Technology changes so quickly that it’s easy to get left behind. The IT jobs market is competitive. Candidates who demonstrate advanced technical skills and a commitment to learning stand out.

 

Creative

Companies working in the creative industries, like marketing, communications and advertising, are always looking for fresh ideas and new ways to reach audiences. Upskilling means you stay on top of emerging trends and can contribute to driving creative change across new media and platforms.

 

Energy and environmental

The climate crisis is pushing energy companies to find more innovative ways of working. As a result, this sector is developing at a rapid pace, and companies are looking to hire the very best, highly-skilled candidates.

 

How to upskill


Upskilling might involve developing your existing skills to move up the career ladder, staying up to date with industry changes, or learning brand new skills to fulfil a new role.

There are several ways to find learning opportunities:

Shadowing

Shadow people further up the career ladder to see which skills they use in their role and how they apply them in practice. Shadowing can also be a great way to get a feel for a new job role you might be considering.

 

Academic courses

If you are in an industry that values academic qualifications, consider continuing your formal education at a college or university. Your employer might grant you time away from work to study, or you could attend evening classes. If attending in person isn’t an option, check out The Open University for remote courses.

 

E-learning

There are numerous online courses covering every topic you can imagine. You can learn about anything from accounting to beauty, coding to animation, and lots more. Some larger organisations provide e-learning courses for employees, like the NHS e-learning for healthcare hub, or you can find them yourself on online platforms like Udemy.

 

Self-directed study

Once you’ve identified a skills gap, you can find ways to fill it. Online research, books, industry blogs and workshops are all good ways to learn and stay up to date in your own time.

 

If you’re unemployed and claiming benefits, you could be eligible for government help with funding to cover the costs of education or training courses. If you’re on a low income, you may qualify for a charitable educational grant from Family Action.

 

Which skills should you work on?


Employers increasingly value soft skills, like communication, leadership and emotional intelligence. Upskilling in these areas can complement almost any job role and contribute to a well-rounded CV and skillset.

Every job role has industry-specific skills requirements, so research your chosen area thoroughly. Once you identify the necessary skills, look for relevant training or learning opportunities to help you get up to speed.

If you’re already working in your chosen field, ask your managers and senior colleagues which skills might help you secure your next role. You should also receive regular appraisals, which can be the perfect time to ask about any skills gaps and available learning opportunities.

For advice on how to land your next job role, including how to brush up on your CV and prepare for interviews, see The Ultimate Jobseeker Guide.

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