What is Upskilling? And Why You Should Take It Seriously

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At a time when the world is going through rapid transformation in technology, businesses have to cope up with the changing nature of work, shortage of resources and often are faced with completely new demands.

While it may take businesses time to align to new requirements, upskilling could be the answer to make quick adjustments to meet the challenges at hand.

What is Upskilling?

In short, upskilling means enhancing your knowledge and skills to meet new challenges at work.

As the supply of jobs shrinks due to the COVID-19 induced slowdown, reskilling and upskilling are the buzzword to remain relevant in a tough job market. The Singapore government has also placed significant emphasis on upskilling by launching the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package.

The initiative was launched with the objectives to expand job, traineeship and skills training opportunities to support Singaporeans affected by the economic impact of COVID-19. There are various key initiatives that have been rolled out under the program and some of them are:

  • Strengthen training support
  • Add more job opportunities under SGUnited Jobs initiative
  • Increase traineeships through the program for recent and fresh graduates
  • Improve the hiring incentive under the SkillsFuture Mid-Career Support Package

Why Upskilling is Important

Singapore Business Federation chief executive Ho Meng Kit said in an article to The Strait Times, “Companies, for example, have to redesign jobs to fit the current employment profile and help workers upskill during this period to acquire new capabilities. Workers should stay nimble and be willing to adapt, and take up roles in sectors to remain relevant and competitive.”

The world was never so unpredictable as it is today. In times like these planning or seeing a clear career path is not easy. Moreover, when the job market is not so bright and the competition is tough because of the fact that there are more candidates in the job market than the jobs.

So, what companies are looking for in a candidate? And what should job seekers, whether in job, looking for their next big break or someone searching for a job vigorously in these times should do?

Those lucky to have their jobs despite the turmoil due to the pandemic should stay put, take the opportunity to learn new skills, volunteer and help a colleague in need and constantly upgrade their knowledge and skills. The future looks uncertain and one never knows what is in store ahead.

Those in search of work, should keep patience and trust in their abilities.

For these are no ordinary times. Finding a job that you deserve may take time. It is advisable to not get discouraged by failures and use failures to reflect on what’s not working and how you can be better. But the most important part is to keep working on your skills to keep yourself relevant to the new opportunities in the job market.

Here is why you should take upskilling seriously:

1. Upskill, re-skill to stay relevant

Automation has made many jobs outdated. Workers who didn’t prepare in time for challenges automation brought have become redundant today. It’s important to keep your ears and eyes open to new threats and opportunities that cross your path when you are engrossed in work. Companies are still hiring and they need candidates with human skills that machines can’t replace. Creativity, leadership, problem-solving, people and communication skills, and organisational skills are some of the key skills that businesses are always in need.

According to ‘Future of Jobs’ report by World Economic Forum released way back in 2016 predicted the following top 10 skills that will be in demand in 2020.

  • Complex Problem Solving
  • Critical Thinking
  • Creativity
  • People Management
  • Co-ordinating with Others
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Judgement & Decision Making
  • Negotiation
  • Cognitive Flexibility

No wonder, looking at the current circumstances they got it pretty right. These are the skills that are the most valued by organisations in these times.

If your skills fall in these areas or close to any of these, make sure to sharpen them to better your chances of finding a job in tough conditions.

2. Upskill for Yourself & Your Organisation

At a time when companies are cutting costs and businesses are evolving rapidly, ensure you find opportunities to grow. Organisations prefer employees who can rise to challenges and adapt to new working conditions, take up new or additional responsibilities, and help companies grow without adding additional burden.

Uncertainty breeds change, requiring agility and adaptability. Companies want employees who can quickly take up emerging roles and excel at them.

Upskilling is a win-win situation for both the employee and employer. While it’s time consuming and expensive to hire new employees, upskilling an existing employee saves both time and money.

3. Upskill for the Future

With the growth of the digital economy, modern technologies are transforming businesses and industries. To stay relevant in the job market, one must learn new skills for a world that has gone digital.

“58 per cent were worried about redundancy and 36 per cent were concerned about not having the right skills for the company,” says a PwC Singapore report. While there are concerns about technology, a significant – 53% of respondents felt technology would bring about more opportunities than risks in the workplace and 85 % believed that technology will change their work for the better.

Now it’s imperative that upskilling is extremely important in a volatile job market and why you should consider it seriously, the question now is how to go about upskilling.

While it is important to look ahead to grow, it’s also vital to look back to make a sense of the changes that have taken place along the way in your job role and industry. Start by researching industry trends and following thought leaders on social media. Go out and ask for advice from your seniors on what skills you should enhance or acquire. You may also check with your HR department about any learning opportunities offered by the company.

This will nudge you to think in the right direction and you will get sense of the skills you want to focus on.

Here are some options you can consider when it comes to upskilling:

  • Free online classes
  • Mentorship program
  • Online learning platforms
  • Take up a side project
  • Volunteer

No matter, what’s your purpose for upskilling, doing so has many advantages. Upskilling keeps you relevant in the workplace, opens doors to new opportunities, and uplifts your professional brand.

Valentin Berard

Valentin Berard

COO at GrabJobs. Valentin leads strategic and operational activities regionally. Background in Business Development and Recruitment. Passionate about social innovation, he constantly strives to find solutions to real world problems through harnessing smart technology. Read more: https://www.linkedin.com/in/valeberard/

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