Up-Skilling: Vital for Professional Sustenance and Recovery

The book ‘The 100 Year Life’ by Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott highlights how human life expectancy is on the rise by up to three months per year for over a century, and there’s no sign of it slowing down.  As the trend continues, more than half the people born in developed nations after 2000 have an increased working lifespan. The improved longevity leading to delayed retirement is becoming a real consideration for the current workforce. How to stay abreast and relevant or even ahead for future? How to evolve the skills in the constant changing era of new technology, innovation, regulation or system? As our careers’ span potentially chancing to increase up and the nature of our work continues to change, the education we obtain in early adulthood will simply not be enough to keep us ahead over the many following years. The skills that employers are looking for today may not remain in demand in future. This makes up-skilling absolute necessities if you want to not only stays relevant, but keep growing in the face of disruption.

Staying Updated: Daunting realization among workforce

Though emerging technologies, globalization, and mega trends are the catalysts for change, but ultimately the impact of this change are humans. As machines augment our workplace, we need to explore and develop some unique skills that can set us apart as people. This climate of change has necessitates that lifelong learning and the need to upskill are critical to individuals for sustenance or even recovery in their careers. With change, one gets the opportunity to transform, to start afresh, reset the status quo, and become equipped to deal with a new world. The pre-2020 world has reordered to new one. The society, businesses, and governments could not be blithe in adapting to the changed way of life.  The drastic acceleration of digital transformation got accelerated due to the pandemic and global lockdown. Most of the workforces had to undergo almost overnight skill transformations since the onset of the pandemic to sustain their jobs. Those who failed to suit themselves to the changed disruptive technologies are now trying hard to up skill and re-skill themselves for job recovery. The emerging technologies, automation, disruption will continue to outspread their influence in the world. Opportunities will pass by due to a dearth of people with the right skills. So, one has to grapple with new roles, new ways of working and new industries. Businesses also have to consider on how they will use technology as a competitive advantage and what are the skills needed to develop now to achieve this. Therefore, leaders must examine the granular detail of what skills a team needs for successfully executing a business strategy and for future-proofing across various projects.  This depth of insight will prove valuable, as it pinpoints exactly where to focus upskilling efforts and prioritize budgets accordingly.

In- Demand Skills of Future

The Fourth Industrial Revolution has paved the way for transformative change. Today, there are no disparate physical, digital, and biological worlds; everything is blurred, as artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things and other industry advances become increasingly embedded within society. These technologies are some of the biggest drivers of change in the workplace and they are shaping the future in various ways that are totally unimagined.  In order to steer steadily in the uncertainty, professionals will need to look beyond the skills of today, towards the demands of tomorrow. The core skills that will make one’s future ready and smart are as follows:

  • Digital expertise: It includes how well conversed one is with the cyber knowledge. Basically, it encompasses your competency to work with various software, apps and cloud.
  • Functional skills : These includes your defining skills (that set you apart and makes you unique); core competencies(skills that help you perform a specific task in hand) and assumed skills(skills needed for any professional role)
  • Analytical and critical thinking:  The ability to interpret information and extract insights to navigate proper decisions is becoming very profitable skills in business.
  • Interpersonal skills – This is highly sought after soft skills in professionals. Basically, it is your emotional intelligence quotient that equips you to tactfully manage and communicate with your team, customers or other people, your level of assertiveness, listening, negotiation, problem solving and decision making.
  • Leadership:  Leaders are the seneschal of any business who directs the team members towards successful accomplishment of any goal. They need to effectively drive teams through radical change and uncertainty, while ensuring their workforce is inclusive and diverse and that their business impact is transparent, conscious, and valuable.

Human skills are still important despite automation

The changing business scenario has brought about a skills shortage across industries, specifically within the realm of emerging technologies. With such rapid advances, the labor market is struggling hard to keep up pace with the rate of change. Research indicates that by 2022, no less than 54% of all employees will require significant re-skilling and upskilling.  But despite technology driving change, the emphasis on skills gain is not in the technical realm. Many disruptive technologies have moved beyond their initial hype towards actual business implementation and application.  Despite the seemed technological takeover with advances in automation, humans are yet central to every technological design. With technology essentially becoming more human, it is less about using technology and more about interacting with technology. So, people are choosing to close the skills gaps in their current capabilities by adapting to dynamic work needs and changes. It is expected that technical skills will serve as a means to compete, while interpersonal skills will hold the competitive advantage in future. There has been an increase in continuous learning and certificate based courses among few professionals as they are trying to keep themselves ahead of the curves in the market. Some hiring managers are putting more emphasis on skills-based credentials than formal degrees. Experience is still an important parameter from hiring aspect but an individual’s ability to learn and adapt is also highly thrusted nowadays in many organizations.  Soft skills such as leadership will definitely outweigh technical skills in the days ahead. Though mostly controlled by automation, businesses will need some humanly elements to drive a workforce. As few skills get lost or fade out, new skills and job patterns evolve. New innovations and automation make ways for better business reconstruction. However, human skills will never be rendered irrelevant. Instead, automation is expected to bring about more than double the jobs that it could potentially displace. Human roles are en route to a new form of interaction with machines and algorithms. As automation becomes more prominent in the workplace, people will have more space to exercise their novelty, creativity and innovativeness.

How can you upskill yourself?

Online education and short courses have paved their ways as saviors for professionals who wants to gain the in-demand skills without taking a pause in their career. The need to continually upgrade oneself to remain relevant has been realized by most of the professionals. As change becomes constant, so will continuous learning. Beyond the competitive advantage that upskilling gives employees, is a growing awareness amongst businesses and recruiters that talent is a scarce resource. With the future of work needing more expert human skills, investing in learning is a sure way to get in good ROI.

Micro learning has been a one stop solution for many professionals to compensate for disruption. But experts believe only nano-degress and micro-learning cannot be enough to sustain or recover the career examining the volume of change that is likely to bring in by automation in the future. Rather, a successful career will require a combination of both continued micro-learning and macro-learning.

  • Micro-learning breaks topics down into small pieces. It includes learning at hand, from articles, emails, tutorials and more.
  • Macro-learning, on the other hand, offers a more structured, guided learning experience and allows you to take larger strides in your skills development.

From automation taking over the work of fast-food servers, to block chain making real estate agents and legal professionals’ lives easier there will be almost no sector left unaffected in the future world of work. The need to upskill, re-skill and shine must remain driving force among professionals to survive in the redesigned work milieu.