Career Advice

What is Upskilling and Reskilling?

John Smith

Reskilling and upskilling are two terms that are often used interchangeably, however are two very different things. Upskilling focuses on building on existing skills, while reskilling involves learning a new skill altogether. One thing they do share, is that both types of training can be extremely beneficial for returners and ex-forces looking to re-launch their careers, and set themselves up for future success.

Discover more about the differences between reskilling and upskilling, and why both are more important now than ever. We’ll cover:

What are the key differences between upskilling and reskilling?

Let’s take a look at the key differences between upskilling and reskilling in more detail, as well as the benefits of each.

What is upskilling?

Upskilling involves building upon your existing skill set and enhancing your existing knowledge and capabilities through training or mentoring. This type of training is typically done to help you perform better in your current role or enhance your career prospects.

What are the benefits of upskilling?

Choosing to upskill has numerous benefits. Firstly, upskilling can help bring new value to your role and wider organisation. In turn, you can increase your performance, job satisfaction and get recognised and rewarded by your employers.

There are multiple ways to go about upskilling to suit your learning preferences, such as short courses or night classes to fit into a busy schedule, or even online resources or qualifications. This is often provided internally by your employers, too.

What is reskilling?

On the other hand, reskilling involves learning new skills in order to help you venture into a new role or follow a different career path entirely. Reskilling has become increasingly common amongst individuals whose roles have become redundant and are needed in other areas of their current business, or are looking for a new job in another company or different industry.

What are the benefits of reskilling?

Reskilling gives you the chance to expand your skill set and knowledge base, in other industries or roles.

As such, reskilling provides you the opportunity to change paths at any point in your career, giving you greater mobility within your current organisation, and lending you the tools you need to straddle across different teams.

Why are upskilling and reskilling more important than ever?

“The Fourth Industrial Revolution”

As ‘The Fourth Industrial Revolution’ comes into play, and we begin to see AI and automation become increasingly popular across industries, employees will be expected to adapt to these new technologies. With this, there will be a number of new job titles emerging that previously did not exist. For instance, 20 years ago, there was no such thing as a Social Media Manager or Games App Developer. New roles are always emerging and this is only set to accelerate. So, professionals must be prepared to update their skills or re-train accordingly.

Recovering in the wake of COVID-19

It’s safe to say that almost every industry felt the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and this had huge repercussions on the job market. Unemployment rates skyrocketed, reaching 14.8%, which is the highest recorded since 1948 when records began. 2020 also saw a significant decrease in the global economy, however this is expected to reverse itself in the coming years. And, with this predicted economic boom, comes the opportunity to upgrade your skills and take advantage of all the new career prospects available to you.

The Great Resignation

The Great Resignation began in 2021 with the onset of COVID-19. Employees were fed up with low pay, lack of respect or recognition at work, burnout, problems with childcare and dissatisfaction with staff wellbeing initiatives – to name a few. Surveys reveal that some of the main reasons for this mass resignation were limited career progression and skills development opportunities. As such, learning new skills and finding a new sense of purpose can help you feel more fulfilled in your role.

Many employers now offer upskilling opportunities, providing their employees with key skills to future-proof their employment and improve job satisfaction. When looking for a new role, always look out for these initiatives!

Digital transformation

Digital transformation is revolutionising the workplace, bringing birth to pioneering technologies to maximise efficiency, improve customer experience, minimise human error and much more. Digital transformation has always been at the forefront, but has been accelerated by the effects of COVID-19, with many people being forced to work from home and now doing so by choice.

Now, we heavily rely on digital for day-to-day operations. We use things like instant messaging apps, video conferencing platforms and shared document software on a daily basis. Without them, we could not function. This, in itself, is creating the demand for more digital roles to maintain and develop these new, vital technologies. However, digital transformation extends far beyond the everyday workplace, in ecommerce, media, marketing and the like.

Disappearing jobs

However, this digital transformation is also reducing the demand for some more traditional roles, such as front-of-house receptionists, travel agents, bank tellers and legal secretaries. Studies show that some of these jobs may be completely gone by 2030, as we all turn to the internet or alternative means, or these jobs become automated. In this case, employees will be required to adopt new working styles, working hand-in-hand with new technologies or looking for a new role altogether.

One example is a bank teller. Nowadays, many of us choose to use online banking to make transfers or use an ATM machine to make deposits, as opposed to queuing up in-store and speaking to someone face-to-face. That’s not to say bank tellers no longer exist. They just need to be clued up on this new banking tech as well as traditional duties, in order to be able to help customers when required.

The skills shortage

The idea that ‘robots are going to take all the jobs’ is false. Well, for the foreseeable future anyways. In fact, there aren’t enough humans to fill the jobs in the first place. Research reveals that 85 million jobs are predicted to go unfilled by 2030 due to a skills shortage. Some of the worst affected industries include finance, technology, media, telecommunications and manufacturing.

With the majority of baby boomers entering retirement by 2030 or already settled in an established career, the responsibility to fill the shortage will be left to the younger generation of fresh talent, or the older generation who are willing to retrain, upskill or reskill. The mentality of continuous learning will be pivotal in filling these roles and keeping the economy alive.

How can FDM help you?

At FDM, we offer an ex-forces and returners programme, designed to help those returning after a career break or looking to transition into a civilian career. We provide a supported journey, comprising training, experience with industry-leading clients and a range of development programmes. We are dedicated to giving you the tools you need to excel in a new career or build upon your existing skills as you re-enter the workforce.

Find out more about upskilling and reskilling on the Ex-forces Careers or Returners to Work Programmes.