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Why Is Upskilling More Critical Now than Ever?

Up until a few years ago, obtaining your undergraduate degree was a pass to the vast world of employment. Unfortunately, a higher education certificate might not take you that far nowadays.

Upskilling – the evolution of a person’s abilities and career path – has become a buzzword in today’s job ambience. Both employees and employers have begun looking at ways to maximise the available opportunities and minimise skills gaps.

The world of work is changing at the speed of light, and you need to be able to adapt to it, otherwise you’ll fall behind. Here is how to stay on top of your game at all times with upskilling.

Why should upskilling enter your vocabulary now?

Upskilling has been known to humanity for a long time, and it’s become integral to our upbringing. But just like the world of work has changed, especially after/amidst the pandemic. The necessity of upskilling has changed too. While the half-life of professional skills was once 10-15 years, it’s now been shortened to five years. For technical skills, this can be even shorter. This means that workers must constantly update their skills to stay relevant.

According to the ILO Global Commission of the Future of Work, “today’s skills won’t match the jobs of tomorrow, and newly acquired skills may quickly become obsolete.” Things like technological advancements, climate change, globalisation, and COVID-19 are dictating changes in the workplace and the need for upskilling.

Automation calls for new technical skills

The question of robots replacing humans in the workplace has been pressing for a long time. The 2013 movie Her narrated the possible future of humanity where robots have replaced not only human labour but also human romance. It seems that the line between sci-fi and reality is becoming more and more blurred. According to experts at Fortune magazine, “40% of the world’s jobs will be replaced by robots capable of automating tasks”.

Yes, around 1.5 million jobs in England are at risk of being automated in the future, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). This means that human labour won’t be needed. Such jobs include elementary occupations, as well as process, plant, and machine operatives. As worrying as this sounds, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Although automation and digitalisation may replace low-skilled and manual jobs, they will create new job opportunities too. The areas that will see the most growth will be within the cognitive and metacognitive categories.

We must adapt to technological innovations and this calls for continuous learning. Digital literacy, numeracy, creativity, and innovative thinking must improve continuously to keep up.

Globalisation, Brexit, and COVID-19: how are jobs shifting shape?

It’s fair to say that most job sectors are shifting and so is the workforce demand. Globalised businesses are making way for both high-skilled and low-skilled jobs. However, medium-skilled jobs are being left behind. The job polarisation is due to the increased labour-intensive production, liberalisation of trade, and international transportation and communication. Workplaces within leading economies are looking for highly skilled people who are ready to operate on a global level. Conversely, they are also looking for cheaper low-skilled labourers.

However, both Brexit and COVID-19 have had an immense impact on disruptions to supply chains and trade. The UK is facing a workforce shortage, and Brexit has only worsened the situation. Those who thrive in this changing socio-economic environment will have transferable skills. These skills can be adapted and applied to different occupations and skills.

You might be wondering, is my job at stake? While many businesses are set to recover from Brexit and the pandemic, others might remain in the shadows. That’s why it’s more critical now than ever to upgrade your core skills. It’s also important to upgrade your more alternative skills that are useful as a backup plan. For example, you can learn to become a ski instructor, a reiki healer, or an English language teacher.

Obtaining such qualifications will make you an even more desired candidate. They will show employers that you are willing to adapt to new environments and learn new skills.

New jobs to drive the green economy forward

With the increasing focus on sustainability, employers are looking at ways to transition to a green economy. The International Labour Organization (ILO) advises that 24 million new jobs will be created worldwide by 2030. All this is in response to the growing green economy.

Employers are receiving support from governments to fund their sustainable recruitment initiatives. In the UK, the Sustainable Innovation Fund has been introduced to help innovative firms commercialise their ideas while contributing to national and global sustainability objectives.

Such new careers include energy auditors, energy engineers, agroforesters, and air quality forecasters. These roles call for a whole new set of skills and abilities. Thankfully, there are a number of programs and courses designed to support sustainable development.

Apart from the emergence of new jobs within the eco sector, existing jobs are also being affected by the transition to a green economy. Upskilling is always essential. Such ‘green’ skills include eco-awareness, waste prevention, and efficiency improvement alongside core interpersonal skills in the likes of digital literacy, strategic and innovative thinking, and leadership.

The world is changing faster than ever with a lot of socio-economic factors at play. In order to adapt to the new world of work, employees are being urged to upskill their abilities and implement innovative thinking. In turn, this will drive both the economy and their personal development forward.