What Is Upskilling? (With Benefits And How To Upskill)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 4 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Upskilling is the process of acquiring new competencies and skills that can help you get hired for a desirable job. To keep pace with the rapidly changing global scenario, upgrading your knowledge and skills is necessary. Whether you are looking for your first job, employed or unemployed, upgrading your skills can help you in career development and stay relevant in the industry. In this article, we explore what it means to upgrade your skills, understand its importance and discover how you can upskill in your current role.

What is upskilling?

Upskilling is the process of individuals learning and acquiring new skills. These skills can be soft skills like communication, leadership or critical thinking skills. It might include hard skills like a programming language, statistical analysis or knowledge of using a particular tool. These skills can help you stay current in your role or help you get hired for an advanced role. With these skill sets, you can easily fill the skills gap, stay updated with the business best practices and remain competitive in the role. Some common ways to upskill include:

  • completing an ongoing training

  • working with mentors and professionals

  • completing a professional course

  • reading articles and industry journals

  • volunteering in the community

  • getting trained from a colleague or manager

Related: How To Develop Your Skill Set: A Complete Guide

What are some benefits of upgrading your skills?

With frequently changing technology, being relevant to the current time requires you to upskill yourself constantly. Adding new skills and proficiencies to your skill set helps you stay competitive in the job role. So, upskilling is slowly becoming a priority for managers and employees who want to achieve organisational goals. Some benefits of upgrading your skills are:

  • Increase your employability chances: Hiring managers often prefer candidates with different transferrable and relevant skills that they can upgrade throughout their lives.

  • Advance your career: You can advance into senior roles when upgrading your skills. Being proactive helps you get hired for a desirable job.

  • Protect your job: When you upgrade your skills for a job role, it shows your commitment to the job. This can help you retain your job during industry changes and economic slowdowns.

  • Boost your self-confidence: Learning new skills can help in boosting your confidence and self-esteem. It can positively impact your mental well-being.

  • Help increase your pay: Upgrading your skills can showcase your worth and ensure your earn more salary.

  • Help change industries: Upgrading your skills can help you work in various industries. When you acquire new skills, you show employers that you are ready to face challenges.

Related: How To Change Careers

When can you upskill yourself?

There is no better time than now to start learning and mastering your news skills and proficiencies. Upgrading your skills might be more accessible in the following situations:

  • You are out of work: When you are out of work and want to enter the workforce, you can spend time upgrading your skills to make yourself more employable. Also, unemployment can be ideal for upgrading your skills because it might be challenging to justify a long unemployment gap.

  • You have spare money: Enrolling in a professional course in your industry can help you prepare for the future and increase your skill set. You can invest in a professional course to upskill your knowledge if you have spare money.

  • You have some free time: If you have some free time, you can consider learning new skills during that time. Consider enrolling in a course or workshop you can attend after office hours.

  • You lack desirable skills: Upgrading your skills can help you acquire skills preventing you from getting a desirable job. These skills might be the ones that are different and you did not require them in previous job roles.

  • You want to switch careers: When you plan to change or switch careers, you might gain new skills that match the skills required for a new job. Learning new skills can help in a smoother transition into a new field.

How to upskill

To upskill, you can follow these eight steps and develop and fast track your career:

1. Know the skill you want to learn

Determine the skills you want to learn to achieve your career and organisational goals. To choose the most relevant skill to learn, list all the desirable soft and hard skills in your industry. After that, remove your existing skills and choose one or two skills to learn from the remaining set.

2. Research about ways you can upskill

Once you know about the skills you want to learn, research various ways to obtain the desired skills. You can conduct online research, join different social media groups and consult the group members to know which skill to learn. It is advisable to look for recognised and popular courses and training that have recognition in your state or city.

When you ask employees and colleagues about the training process, they may suggest various initiatives. Joining such an initiative might give you paid time off or PTO for the training or courses you attend. Companies can grant time off or even reimburse the cost of training or educational programs.

Related: Free Online Certificate Courses In India By The Government

3. Determine how you can add value

By considering the nature of the economy, know about the goals your industry might want to achieve in the future. When choosing a skill to learn, consider the pain points and brainstorm ideas to help an organisation reach its goal. Also, when learning a new skill, understand why this specific skill set makes you a great fit for the company for which you are applying. When applying for a new role, include these details in the cover letter.

4. Develop upskill plan

When you develop a plan, focus on upgrading your skills. When you create a plan, keep in mind the upskill goals. Based on these goals, break down your goals into smaller milestones. Tracking these milestones can help you keep track of your progress. Also, develop a new skill to maintain a balance in your life. It is essential to leave time for your job, existing social commitment and leisure time. Also, based on the time you can donate for upgrading your skill, learn just one skill during a specific time period.

If you are a full-time employee, consider completing a part-time course or enrolling in a part-time course. When creating an upskill plan, it is essential to reflect on your changing career goals and requirements.

5. Consider the finances

Once you know what skills you want to upgrade, research the training courses and degree programs you can enrol in to acquire a relevant skill. Consider the cost, duration and time requirement of each training program. Also, know about your income and other responsibilities before planning to upskill. Having a clear idea about your finances and time can help you understand whether it is a feasible plan.

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6. Become a member of a professional association

When you become a professional association member, you can enrol in their continuous learning program or networking events. Usually, only members can access these programs. Participating in industry-relevant programs can help you distinguish yourself from others in similar job roles. To become a member of these professional associations, you pay an annual membership fee. You can often receive membership discounts if you are just starting your career.

Also, when you join a professional association, you can network with more people and increase your chances of learning a new skill set. The truth is that the more knowledge you gain, the more learning opportunities you can create.

7. Seize every upgrading opportunity

With an upskill plan in place, you can remain focused and keep researching various upskill opportunities. Some ways to seize upgrading opportunities can be taking up more responsibility and learning new skills in the workplace. Focus on signing up for a development program that your organisation organises to teach you a new skill set. You can even collaborate with colleagues of different team members and learn a new skill set. You can even focus on workplace learning initiatives based on your spare time.

8. Create a new resume and update your existing one

When applying for a job role, add new qualifications, skills and hobbies that demonstrate your newly acquired skill set. Updating your resume with these skills can help employers understand your commitment to learning and honing your skills. Also, when switching careers, highlight your new skills to get hired for a desirable job. The more relevant skills you highlight, the higher are your chances of impressing a hiring manager.

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