In an increasingly competitive world, the need for constant improvement has never been more pronounced – the number of skills necessary for a single job increases by 10% every year. With new technologies popping up constantly, upskilling has become vital for career progression and maintaining one’s value in the workplace. As much as upskilling can be employer-focused, this also benefits employees; in a 2021 study, US workers gained an additional 8.6% in income when they participated in upskilling programs. For those who have thrived in the same industry or even the same position for a long time, honing existing skills may feel unnecessary. Still, it is the key to continued fulfillment in your respective line of work. But first, what does upskilling entail?
What is upskilling?
Upskilling is the process of acquiring new, relevant skills that you can apply to your current role or specialty. In the cutting-edge field of technology, upskilling your capabilities is a great way to get the skills today’s employers demand – and make yourself an indispensable human asset in today’s digital age. This can include adding key frameworks in software engineering to your repertoire, mastering new tenets of machine learning, or brushing up on the latest coding skills for front-end web development. Upskilling may also expose you to mentors with diverse experiences and backgrounds, allowing you to get inspiring advice to advance your career.
Most importantly, upskilling empowers you to take control of your career by future-proofing it, ensuring you don’t get left behind when technological advancements and new industry standards come into play. This is particularly important for older workers anxious about job security – upskilling improves your employability throughout your life, providing an invaluable sense of confidence and stability.
Why does continuous learning matter?
For all the job-related benefits that come with upskilling, focusing purely on financial or career perks is a fast track to burnout. Thus, it is essential to facilitate a continuous learning mindset that positions learning as an ongoing, self-motivated, and enjoyable lifelong process. In contrast to upskilling, which can be work-related in nature, a continuous learning mindset carries a significant personal component. After all, open-mindedness and the willingness to learn are highly transferable skills that can aid significantly in interpersonal relationships and personal growth. It also keeps individuals from getting complacent, allowing for healthy perspective changes as new information becomes available.
When the rigor of upskilling is combined with the motivation afforded by continuous learning, development becomes genuine and sustainable. According to the World Economic Forum, only 0.5% of global GDP is invested toward adult lifelong learning, making it primarily up to the individual to cultivate a continuous learning mindset. Here are a few ways to do just that.
Creating a healthy growth mindset
A growth mindset is defined by one’s daily habits and practices that cultivate a love for learning itself. Rooted in humility and an understanding that learning is a never-ending process, this can mean not being afraid to ask for help when something is not understood, emulating more experienced figures in the workplace, or practicing skills that have already been learned. Arrange conversations with supervisors to pinpoint critical areas of improvement and strengths to hone. Individuals should also look to their peers and even younger colleagues, as they provide a fresh perspective on conducting specific tasks, helping you challenge the notion that one can only learn new things from authority figures.
Continuous learning also means veering from your comfort zone of interest by diving into literature and content that you usually ignore or even avoid consuming; you may be surprised that the insights you can glean from these apply to your current line of work. By taking on challenges that still align with your current knowledge level but require a brand new skill set, you make yourself agile in the face of unexpected roadblocks and adversity, a quality that you can apply both in and out of the workplace.
Previously, we mentioned that any business that hopes to succeed needs healthy and satisfied workers supporting it and how upskilling can help in that regard. Individuals can extend that satisfaction to their lives by interspersing a mindset of continuous growth, guiding their personal and professional vision by remaining a student for life.