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In-Depth Jobs

Issue no 15, 09-15 July 2022


Upskilling & Reskilling Boosting Your Employability Prospects

Gaurav Bhagat

I came across a person who was looking to be a writer in a reputed organisation. He had an 'ideal' resume- substantial work experience, good grades in college, frequent participation in extra-curricular activities, his own blog and more importantly impressive references. One might think and say, this person should be hired, right? He was impeccable on various HR parameters, a company usually follows. But, life does not work the way we really want. Same happened during the recruitment process when he appeared before the operation manager after qualifying the preliminary round, he did not get hired. Why? He did not have the skills that the company was looking for in a potential candidate. His domain experience was limited only to content creation and curation. The organisation was seeking a resource that must also have the knowledge of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and analytics, apart from mastered expertise in the content department. The moral of the story here - in a highly competitive job market, one should keep oneself up-skilled for sure shot chances of selection.

Importance of Up-skilling & Re-skilling

But what do we mean by upskilling here? We have been hearing this word from every person's mouth now. What we have also been hearing about is the word re-skilling. But, what these two words are! How are they different? And more importantly, why are they necessary? Well, in simple terms, re-skilling simply means learning new skills to expand one's work domain. Modern businesses take initiatives on a regular basis to train their employees about new skills and prepare them to move to a new job within the organisation for mutual benefits. This way the company finds a more competent resource in a person who is already familiar with organisation's vision, values, clients, and work culture, without investing time and money in hiring an additional resource. On the other hand, re-skilling makes an employee professionally more valuable, his skill set improves, he learns multi-tasking, and gets better chances of promotion and other incentives. All in all, reskilling creates a win-win equation for both employer and employee. The next is up-skilling. Though up-skilling of human resources in business organisations is not as new as the concept of re-skilling is, it has become more popular in present times due to cut-throat competition in the business landscape. These are the people who help an organisation to meet its targets and achieve milestones, time after time. To beat market competition, organisations want to recruit efficient and skilful resources. But, as learning has no end, skill upgradation of employees is as imperative as the up-gradation of system and equipment in the organisation. So, up-skilling is adding some new skills in an employee's existing skillset for the purpose of enabling him timeready to meet the current as well as future demands of his job profile. An employer up-skill the employees and entrust them greater responsibilities so that they may prepare themselves for more challenging and senior roles.

Benefits to People & Businesses

I recently read an article where it cited a report by TalentLMS, pointed out that ever since the pandemic began, about 42% of companies have increased their re-skilling and up-skilling efforts and 74% of employees who didn't receive any additional skill training said they would prefer to work for a company that provides their employees with re-skilling and up-skilling opportunities. There are enormous benefits of these both learning initiatives, not only to the organisation but to the employee as well. Re-skilling and up-skilling are opening new growth vistas for working professionals not only in their current organisations but also in the job market they are offered with better increments and benefits. On the other hand, due to a huge gap between the demand and supply of skilled and experienced talent, no organisation wants to leave its people. So, they provide enough growth opportunities within the company, make strategies to improve company's culture, and create policies to increase retention and resilience. Overall, they do everything to share a positive employee experience with teams and individuals. Another reason why we must invest in up-skilling and re-skilling is purely for a boost. Boost in productivity and energy. It's easy for us to lose enthusiasm at work and can happen for many reasons. Feeling like you're not great at what you do anymore is a biggie and can impact on your self-confidence. It's common amongst those who have been out of the workforce for a time. Rest assured, there's a way back to confidence and personal growth.

Relevance in the 21st Century

Hence that brings me to the question, why these two concepts are getting extremely popular in the present time? Well, as we navigate our way out through this pandemic and more importantly move into a more digitized world, knowing something is simply not going to cut it. Needs are changing. Demands are changing. Businesses are becoming more and more technology-driven and technology is evolving at the speed of light. This the age of artificial learning (AI), machine learning, (ML), augmented learning (AL), and block chain, and businesses wants to exploit them for exponential growth with the help of competent and highly skilled personnel. To align with the present market demands, it is the pressing need of every progressive business that wishes to keep itself stay ahead of the competition.

Prospects & Initiatives

I am a firm believer that despite all the challenges that have emerged in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will emerge stronger as a country and Indian businesses will soon witness a watershed moment that will propel them into a space of unprecedented growth and success. But for that to happen, we need to keep up with the world that is changing every second. And up-skilling and reskilling is the only way to do that. That's why the Government of India introduced the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship in 2014, whose objective is leveraging skill development efforts throughout the nation and fixing the gap between demand and supply of skilled manpower. To pursue its vision of 'Skilled India', the ministry has also developed various vocational and technical programmes to up-skill people in urban as well as rural India.

Areas to Upskill

But what are the areas to upskill in? If you are not sure what to up-skill in, consider where there might be skill gaps within the company you're going for the promotion with, and get training in them. Knowing what kind of technology is driving innovation in your industry can also guide your training choices. By taking a proactive approach you will empower yourself and fuel your career growth. Once you have some ideas of roles you'd like to pursue, find out which skills you need to gain, and then look into the training opportunities that are available. Better, still find out if you can do an in-house secondment or placement to get a feel for the role or department. Your HR manager can help you put together a personal development plan to turn your learning and development goals into reality.

How to up-skill and re-skill

How to up-skill or re-skill yourself? Well, that is easy! You have sites like courser a, upgrad, udemy and so many more that help you with courses as per your job requirement such as digital marketing, analytics, and data science. Whereas, platforms like skill share, help you to learn something new from experts at your own convenience in the field of photography, video editing, writing etc. More importantly, they are super affordable and can be a really good one-time investment. Another option that does come to mind and that is if you are currently working it would be worth discussing your interest in up-skilling with your manager. The end of the financial year is nearing (how on Earth is it June already?!) and there's every chance that there's some unspent training budget available. It's worth asking, especially if you are also open to sharing your new-found knowledge with team mates once you're done!

Why companies invest in up skilling & re-skilling of their employees

To state the absolute obvious, we reside in a world of technological advancements, and for any business to become successful, technology plays an important role. A business that wants to thrive in these changing conditions will need a workforce with new skills, especially digital skills. To keep up with these dynamic times, many companies are investing heavily in up-skilling programmes. Recently, Amazon announced that it would invest US $ 700 MN in its up-skilling programme, to train 1, 00,000 workers to move into technical and non-technical roles. Rather than recruiting brand-new staff for their organizations, employers are spending money on up-skilling their existing team. New emerging technologies in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Data analysis are now advanced enough to change entire job roles, and the workforce will have to adapt to new tasks and change how they bring value. By Up-skilling the workforce, the employers tend to boost the employees' morale and get them excited about future opportunities in the Company. When employees are confident about their job security and observe a career progression in place, their contribution to the workforce greatly increases. Up-skilling is a vital tool that more of today's corporations must consider as a means to bridge rifts linked to employee engagement and remembrance. One pivotal thing to note here and that is up-skilling the workforce is a smaller investment than hiring and training a new worker. Moreover, if a company invests in its employees' career development, it develops a positive mind-set among the Company's employees We do need to understand something here and that is, upskilling is not only about meeting 'industry demands' and filling skill gaps. It's as much about you discovering what you're interested in. Let's face it - you're more likely to commit to a career and organisation if you actually like what you're doing. The key here is to follow your curiosity.


(The author is an entrepreneur and skills trainer. He can be reached at gaurav@gauravbhagatacademy.com) Views expressed are personal.