Some years ago you studied, you started a job, and you may have kept that job for the majority of your life. Maybe you had the opportunity of doing a small course during your work life, but in the end there was the period of formation, when you built your education and your background, and then the period of active work, when you practiced what you had learned. Nowadays, things have changed dramatically: the period of your life dedicated to study and the period dedicated to work are not divided but overlapping, and it’s normal, even requested, that when you start working you continue to build skills and competencies.
Perhaps you change your mind, understand that what you studied was not what you like to do and decide to take a different path. Or perhaps you decide to deepen or expand your knowledge, acquire new skills, try to become more proficient in what you already do. In other words, reskilling or upskilling have become something that would be considered strange not to do and an essential key to improving your future.
From a company’s point of view, both reskilling and upskilling are also crucial to cope with a global context in constant evolution, with continuously changing demands and the need for new professions and competencies. So a good HR department should analyse and map the potential and the aspirations of their workers and instead of looking outside of the company. They can then offer training and development opportunities to their employees to acquire the new competencies the company needs.
Why reskilling and how
According to the McKinsey report “Jobs lost, jobs gained: workforce transitions in a time of automation”, by 2030 up to 14% of the total global workforce could be in need of changing its work role and/or professional category, due to changes happening to the global work ecosystem (like for example the advent of automation processes and artificial intelligence based tools or simply the emergence of new professional needs, like the ones connected to the green transition).
As a direct consequence of this, to maintain their jobs, many people will need to reskill: they can either change, or (metaphorically) be left behind. But reskilling is also a huge opportunity for the people involved: instead of losing ground and importance, year after year, they can take on the challenge of changing and in so doing improve their work experience and their life.
For the company, reskilling also represents the best option: inside knowledge of the organisation, its processes, its culture and its people is as important as (if not more important than) possessing hard skills connected to the specific job at hand. So reskilling represents for companies the opportunity of not losing talented and highly valuable people, already perfectly inserted into the company’s culture and processes.
Why upskilling and how
Upskilling instead means not changing completely but adding new abilities and skills to one’s own wealth of knowledge. To avoid being left behind in a job market which is always evolving you must embrace the philosophy of lifelong learning and be aware that you can never take something for granted: a role, a job, a position. You should always study, improve your competencies, understand the skills you may lack and find paths (either formal, with traditional courses, or informal, with some form of learning on the job or self study) to acquire them.
Upskilling has to do with optimisation of the work performance, by acquiring new skills that are needed due to the changing work contexts and demands. The company can and should constantly monitor their employees for this, helping them in understanding what is needed and developing personalised learning paths to each one of them. Again, it’s a win-win situation: the company gains an employee that is more satisfied and does a better job, the worker maintains their job and a sense of growth with new learning. Also in this case the talent retention, from the point of view of the company, is really fundamental.
What will be the most requested profiles
We saw that reskilling and upskilling will be essential for both companies and employees because of the disruptive changes that are occurring in the global work market. But in what direction should the re-qualification of the human capital go? Simply said, the IT and the digital sector will get the lion’s share in this. According to some estimates, in the next few years, companies will be in strong need of data scientists, IT workers, artificial intelligence experts, cybersecurity experts, robotic engineers, blockchain gurus, and customer success experts. So the direction in which the reskilling or upskilling process should go is quite clear.
However, also on the other side of the learning curve there are important gaps: it emerges that a significant percentage of workers lack basic digital skills and that this impedes them to cope with the demands of today’s job market. So no matter if you’re a hyper qualified manager or an employee aiming for a career advance, there’s always space for improvement and personal growth.