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Article

Why Now Is the 
Time to Upskill

In recent years, upskilling has become an increasingly popular — and important — area of focus for employers and employees alike. Digital transformation and technological advancements have changed the way organizations do business, driving the need for professionals across most major industries to acquire new skill sets to keep pace with these developments.

Many employers have taken active steps to develop more formalized upskilling programs and strategies for their employees; however, many professionals have taken proactive steps to upskill themselves to help them stay relevant, adaptable and marketable in a constantly evolving labor market.

Whether you’re looking to advance your career within your current organization, deepen your knowledge of a chosen field or are looking for new job opportunities, upskilling is a great way to help achieve these goals.

What is Upskilling?

In the simplest terms, upskilling is the process of learning new skills and expanding upon existing skills to advance oneself professionally. Upskilling typically refers to an employee acquiring new competencies around their existing role which enhances their ability to do their job and add value to their organization in new ways.

How Can Upskilling Help Your Career?

In addition to helping you become more skilled in your current role, upskilling is a highly effective way to invest in your professional growth and progress your career.

    Help Develop and Advance Your Career

In your current role, you’re likely continually learning organically, but being intentional and specific with upskilling tactics can take that a step further.

Being able to identify and fill skill gaps on your team and for upcoming projects can serve as a springboard for upskilling yourself. You can use these scenarios to guide your choice in learning a new or associated skill set, which can help enhance your ability to support your company and its overarching business initiatives.

For example, if you are currently in a generalist role, you could attend a conference, complete an e-learning course or participate in a training seminar to become more specialized in a specific, niche area. Applying what you have learned within that area or skill and sharing your new-found knowledge with your team could result in you becoming the expert on that subject within the team. This type of recognition can further showcase the value you’re bringing to the group and also helps demonstrate your commitment, initiative and willingness to learn.

By upskilling and acquiring new skills that are important to your role, you’ll be in a better position to apply for new opportunities that arise — internally or externally — that you may have previously not have felt as confident applying to. Additionally, upskilling can help set you up to apply for higher-level jobs in the future that frequently also have higher compensation tied to them.

    Adapt Quickly to Changes in Your Industry

Whether it’s technological advancements or process improvements, companies across all industries are always innovating to remain competitive. This means workers must also be innovative if they hope to excel in their careers and stay relevant within their fields.

Take the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) and how it is “reshaping the world of work” as an example. Allegis Group reports that while AI may have eliminated certain tasks, it has paved the way for new jobs and responsibilities thus creating demand for new skills.

Many organizations that are new to adopting AI within their business may lack expertise and skills within their existing workforce needed to succeed. Upskilling in emerging technological areas, like AI and other leading digital transformation skill sets, could help position you as the expert on a particular technology or system, ultimately contributing to the success of your team.

    Enhance Your Employability and Resume

Upskilling can help improve your chances of being hired in a competitive job market. When crafting a compelling resume, you want to show employers the best version of yourself. Having a combination of technical and soft skills pertinent to the role can be helpful in demonstrating your value. Furthermore, having an extensive technical skill set and being able to demonstrate your proficiency in each area can broaden your career prospects by giving you access to more niche, specialized roles.

    Support a Career Change

Whether you have made the decision to pursue a new career, or you are looking to turn a passion into a future career opportunity, knowledge is key. Upskilling to obtain a formal certification in your chosen field not only helps you stand out from other candidates, but can also ease the transition process when it comes time to make the move.

Where to Find Upskilling Opportunities

If you’re looking to upskill, there are a variety of avenues available to professionals. Completing seminars or online courses are easily accessible ways to acquire new knowledge, training and skill sets.

When selecting a course or seminar, it is important to not only focus on developing your technical skills, but also your soft skills. When assessing your suitability for a role, employers look for both technical and your more transferrable (soft) skills to determine if you are the right fit.

There are a variety of options for online learning that can help hone your technical and soft skills such as edX, which offers more than 3,000 online courses from top institutions to sharpen technical skills. The platform has a combination of paid and free courses across a multitude of disciplines from business management and communications to data science and engineering.

Another option is Google Digital Garage, which offers free courses across data, technology and digital marketing. They also offer career development courses which focus on polishing up soft skills. You can also access upskilling opportunities through professional social media networks. LinkedIn Learning, for example, offers training led by industry experts and business skills.

Keep in mind that upskilling is also in your employer’s best interest, so be sure to ask leadership for upskilling opportunities to help advance your career. Stretch assignments are a great way to challenge yourself beyond your current level of knowledge or skill, so expressing interest in completing one is a great way to show initiative and develop yourself further within your organization.

For more information on how to take your career to the next level, visit Aston Carter’s library of insight articles and visit our Career Opportunities page.

*This article was originally developed by Aston Carter EMEA and adapted for Aston Carter North America.