Upskilling and reskilling are terms you probably hear often. Perhaps you aren’t fully aware of the nuances or why they’re so essential for career success.
In today’s workforce, skill gaps abound. Over 80% of talent development professionals note a skill gap in their organization, with 78% anticipating them down the line. If you can make upskilling and reskilling a priority, you’ll be well on your way to corporate success in today’s agile workforce.
Here’s everything you need to know about upskilling and reskilling.
Upskilling and Reskilling Meaning: The Differences
When it comes to upskilling yourself or even reskilling, it’s essential to understand the differences between the two. While both involve closing your skill gap and becoming a more effective employee, they’re fundamentally different.
Upskilling refers to improving upon your existing skills and strengthening your current understanding. Upskilling examples include becoming a better communicator to take on a managerial position or learning how to forecast your company’s financials more accurately when preparing to be CFO.
In general, upskilling refers to staying within your vertical and expanding your current skills.
Reskilling is the opposite of upskilling in that it involves learning an entirely new set of skills. Doing so should prepare you to take on a different or more broad role. Select-few circumstances can create the need to reskill. These include advances in technology that make current responsibilities less relevant or the decision to make a career pivot where entirely new skills are required.
As opposed to upskilling, reskilling refers to stepping out of your current vertical and expanding your total knowledge.
How Upskilling and Reskilling Impact Your Career Path
If you’re setting your sights on climbing the corporate ladder, both upskilling and reskilling will benefit you. In senior positions, you’ll be asked to take on a wide variety of tasks (reskilling required) and be highly knowledgeable about your primary verticals (upskilling required).
No matter where you are in your career, focus on the following:
- Look for companies that prioritize employee development (more on this in a later section). Your employer should create a culture of talent mobility where employees are motivated and encouraged to take on upskilling and reskilling.
- Identify your hidden skills. It takes concentrated effort to be in touch with your strengths (and weaknesses). For instance, if you know you’re a good communicator, your other “hidden skills” may include teaching, leading, and influencing (i.e. if you’re good at communicating, you’re also probably good at teaching others). Being in touch with these hidden skills allows you to apply them, making you a more valuable employee and progressing your career – more on how to identify these hidden skills here.
- Meet future demand. Depending on where you are on your career journey, upskilling and reskilling can help you meet future needs. If your sights are set on a senior position, the nature of your responsibilities will change. Being prepared for the demands of those future positions means you can upskill and reskill to help you succeed down the line.
Everyone Should be Upskilling and Reskilling. Here’s How:
No matter where you are on the corporate ladder, if your sights are set on climbing it, you need to prioritize upskilling and reskilling from now. Here’s what you can do to make sure that doesn’t fall by the wayside.
Option 1: Find Employers Who Prioritize Employee Development
There’s a stark contrast between employers who care deeply about your career progression and those who don’t. Employee development should be part of your current employer’s ethos; upskilling employees (and reskilling) are significant parts of this.
Some examples of employee development include:
- Conferences that allow you to develop specific hard or soft skills
- Regular one-on-ones where managers can provide honest feedback
- Peer mentorship programs so you can learn from the experiences of others
- Educational stipends allow you to enhance your skills through learning experiences (more schooling, subscriptions to industry publications, etc.)
- A culture that encourages upward mobility – all of the above can contribute to this
Option 2: Find a Mentor
If your company doesn’t offer peer mentorship programs, it’s time to tap into your network to find a mentor. Look for people whose career paths and successes you’d like to emulate. For instance, if you’re looking to be CEO one day, find a CEO you admire.
This mentor can help you identify what upskilling and reskilling you need to do.
Not sure how where to find these mentors? If you don’t know anyone directly, ask around. You can also try searching for people on LinkedIn, but make sure you take the time to get to know someone first before making the big ask. Mentorship is a huge favor and not to be taken lightly.
Option 3: Get More Education
Further education can be an excellent option when it comes to upskilling and reskilling. Even if your company doesn’t offer educational stipends (though you should check), consider getting an MBA or some other form of higher education. These programs can help you upskill and reskill to prepare for a senior position.
Option 4: Know Your Worth
By now, you should understand the importance of upskilling and reskilling.
Ultimately, the demand for a well-trained workforce is high, with companies such as PwC and Amazon placing a heavy focus on it – and investing hundreds of millions (or billions). Companies are waiting to help you break into that senior position you want. If you’re unsatisfied with your current company and feel you could grow better elsewhere, it’s time to move on.
Jennings Executive has over two decades of combined experience matching qualified candidates with outstanding companies. If you’re looking to upskill or reskill into a more senior position, we can help. And if you aren’t quite ready for that yet, we’d still love to get to know you! Learn more today.
Upskilling and reskilling throughout your career are essential to climbing the corporate ladder. Reskilling refers to learning new skills outside your current expertise, whereas upskilling refers to strengthening your current ones.
We hope this article helped you clarify upskilling vs. reskilling and the importance of both!