To better understand what upskilling is and why it’s becoming increasingly important, we’ve compiled a selection of career training insights from a few industry thought leaders.
By 2030 as many as 375 million workers—or roughly 14 percent of the global workforce—may need to switch occupational categories as digitization, automation, and advances in artificial intelligence disrupt the world of work. The kinds of skills companies require will shift, with profound implications for the career paths individuals will need to pursue.
The task confronting every economy, particularly advanced economies, will likely be to retrain and redeploy tens of millions of midcareer, middle-age workers.
The new world of work is about skills, not necessarily degrees. Unfortunately, too many people are stuck in low-skill jobs that have no future and too many businesses cannot find the skilled workers they need. We must remove the stigma of a community college and career education, look for opportunities to upskill or reskill workers, and give those who have been left behind the chance to compete for well-paying careers today and tomorrow.
Why has upskilling suddenly become so important? Short answer: digital transformation. The digital economy, enabled by astonishing advances in technology, is reimagining the provider-customer dynamic and transforming how goods and services are bought and sold. Customer-centric, tech-enabled, well-capitalized, new model providers are disrupting incumbents across industries. They share several core characteristics: a relentless commitment to improve customer access, experience, and loyalty; the efficient use of data; achieving “more with less” for the benefit of customers, employees, and shareholders; and constant improvement. Their models are built from the customer perspective, not to fit the provider economic model.
This sea-change means that many traditional jobs are morphing into something different or disappearing altogether. Upskilling is the process of preparing the workforce to fill these new positions. To borrow from Wayne Gretzky, upskilling is instilling competencies that enable workers and companies to “skate to where the puck will be.”
Upskilling entails learning new skills, but it also involves a cultural shift and change management. To be competitive in the digital age, individuals and corporations require a learning-for-life mindset, collaboration—with humans and machines– and a willingness to embrace new ways of doing things. The digital age requires that workers—no matter the industry–have technical skills and an ability to acquire new competencies required by a remarkably fast-paced, fluid marketplace where legacy boundaries separating industries are increasingly blurred.