We are surviving in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) world where there are constant changes and disruptions in the work environment. Growing competition levels, changing business requirements, escalating needs of employees, and innovation and modernisation in technology, have made it necessary to continue learning and developing skills. Academic knowledge of students also has to be added with skills in-demand, practical experience, and innovative thinking. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has unexpectedly rescinded all support and has abruptly caused lots of difficulties to students- many of the students are forced to change their career goals. Therefore, it has become extremely important for students to improve their skills by Upskilling or unlink and move in a different direction by reskilling.

In the current post, we will explore the meaning and significance of the terms “Upskilling” and “Reskilling”, and elucidate the importance of the same.

Reskilling and Upskilling

Even though both the terms suggest the development of new skills, there is a conceptual difference between the two. Let us look closer to understand these two terms.

Upskilling refers to the process of imbibing new skills to enhance skill sets. This practice is mainly common in workstations; nevertheless, students who are not currently engaged with any business enterprise can also consider upgrading their skill sets. Besides conventional education (i.e., graduate, postgraduate and doctoral programs in colleges and universities), a student can opt for adaptable programs (such as, take night classes, weekend courses, short courses, professional education and training, vocational education and training-VET and many others) to hone their skills. In due course, this is certainly a way of improving their career paths.

Reskilling indicates the process of acquiring new skill sets to do a different job. Reskilling can be extremely luring to people who are seeking to change their career paths. Students can also brood over the idea of undertaking further education (both conventional and adaptable education programs) to learn new skills to gain access to an entirely new arena and change their career paths.

Whys and wherefores of Upskilling and Reskilling

Skill Inadequacies

The majority of business establishments in the United Kingdom (around 91%) struggled to get workers with the needed skill sets over the last 12 months, as mentioned in a report presented by The Open University. Companies are bearing a high price to make sure their establishments have the expertise needed to stay productive, with the shortage now costing an additional £6.33 billion every year in staffing fees, inflated remunerations, temporary workers, and training for workforces employed at a level lower than intended. With a shortage in the supply of skilled workforce, several senior business leaders (roughly 70%) are of the view that the process of recruitment is taking comparatively longer. Consequently, almost two out of three (that is, nearly 64%) report disbursing more on staffing, with costs growing by 49% or £1.23 billion in all. Digitisation has also created enormous demand for new skills and this has generated a shortage in skills related to technology-oriented jobs. A report presented by BBC titled “UK ‘heading towards digital skills shortage disaster’’ mentioned that the number of students opting IT subjects at the level of GCSE has decreased 40% since the year 2015, while consulting and IT services company Accenture declared that demand for artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and skills of robotics is rising. Therefore, around 76% of enterprises consider that a shortage of digital skills would certainly hit their productivity soon.

Effect of COVID-19 pandemic

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, rates of unemployment have risen steeply. As per the Office for National Statistics, the UK unemployment rate was recorded to be 4.8% during Jan-Mar, 2021. The Bank of England estimates the rate of unemployment to reach approximately 5.5% during autumn. This undoubtedly has had an unfavorable impact on the livelihoods of people and directed towards a sizeable decrease in the world economy. Research suggests that although COVID 19 continues to exist, the economy is expected to encounter a quick post-pandemic recovery. With a high growth rate and market optimism, acquiring new skills will indeed put students in a comparatively superior position to derive advantage of a tougher economy. Hence, to get a competitive edge over others and to stand out in interviews, it is high time to consider up-gradation of present skills or alter career paths.

Effect of digitisation and innovation

Digitisation has generated new job roles that did not exist before. These job roles are mainly related to the use of technology, for example, cloud computation, data science, app development, artificial intelligence and machine learning, social media management, and management of user experience among many others. The demand for workers in these job roles is increasing; therefore, students can consider acquiring these skills to find employment in these tech sectors.

Again, automation is one of the disadvantages of technological development as it is replacing labour-intensive tasks with technology-intensive ones. A report presented by BBC mentioned that nearly 20% of the jobs in the manufacturing sector could be replaced by robotics by the end of the year 2030. Therefore, to avoid becoming redundant, it is important to gain adequate skills to get new work.

As we can understand that Upskilling/Reskilling is the need of the hour, students need to become aware of the present situation and prospects. Students can leverage technology, explore available learning opportunities, set learning goals, utilise distinct learning platforms, and continue to invest in themselves to proper.


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