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Upskilling and reskilling: key approaches to adapt your skills to changing times

03/05/2022 | Santander Universidades

Do you think your current skills are enough to future-proof your career and that you no longer need to undertake further training? 

75 to 375 million workers, in other words, some 3% to 14% of the world's workforce, will have to change careers by 2030 due to automation, artificial intelligence and digitalisation, according to the study Jobs lost, jobs gained: workforce transitions in a time of automation, by McKinsey Global Institute. That's why enlisting upskilling and reskilling strategies is not merely an option today, but more of a necessity if you want to keep your CV relevant and stand out in the ever-changing jobs market.

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Upskilling and reskilling, a must in times of uncertainty

While the advance of technology had already sown some concern among professionals in recent years, the Covid-19 pandemic has only compounded the fears of human capital about not being prepared for the jobs of the future. In fact, 4 out of every 10 employees around the world say they are more alarmed by the automation of jobs than before the health emergency, according to the Decoding Global Reskilling and Career Paths study, published by BCG and The Network.

And these fears are not in vain, because, according to the concipients Future of Jobs Report 2020 by the World Economic Forum, the percentage of basic skills that will change over the coming 5 years sits at 40%. In other words, only 60% of what you know how to do today will still prove useful to doing your job by 2027. 

The problem is that, while your grandparents were able to do their jobs competently with the knowledge acquired from their studies or work experience, nowadays it's simply unthinkable to not undertake continuous learning over the entire course of your career. So much so that, as a result of this new trend, more than two thirds of workers worldwide are willing to retrain professionally. Therefore, whether you seek to grow professionally or just keep your job, it is vital to commit to lifelong learning as a way to adapt your value proposition to emerging market needs. 

There are many ways to stay competitive in the job market. On one hand, this can be done through an upskilling plan, i.e., improving your skills and abilities in other disciplines within your sector, so that you can carry out your duties with greater ease and adapt to any changes within your field of activity. On the other hand, there are many reskilling courses, designed to acquire new hard skills and soft skills with which you can reinvent your future career in other industries.

The benefits of dedicating time to continuing professional development

With lifelong learning, you will see great results. For example, in a strictly work sphere, by acquiring new skills and abilities that round out your competences, your performance and productivity will increase notably. At the same time, by being more prepared, you can reduce the chance of making mistakes or risking accidents at work. In short, you will be able to do more and do it better

Improving your skills is also a huge plus point on your CV. Firstly, you will have the new skills and knowledge to be able to apply for positions with greater levels of responsibility or access jobs that interest you more, with a better salary. Secondly, don't forget that companies highly value proactive profiles. So, the fact that you have continuously developed yourself throughout your career will be a point in your favour during any recruitment processes. 

In the personal sphere, upskilling and reskilling programmes also act as an important catalyst. Enhancing your skills will boost your confidence to take on new challenges and projects, helping you to get out of your comfort zone. You will find that your ability to adapt to changes sky-rockets, especially important in a volatile environment such as the current one, while you will also see a decrease in work stress. As a result, you will feel more fulfilled and motivated as you realise you’re able to take on greater or different responsibilities with ease. You will even gain mental flexibility and agility due to this constant brain training. 

Lastly, continuous development fosters bonds at a social level. Thanks to gaining a broader view of business activity, you will be able to understand new perspectives and it will be easier for you to work in a team. Likewise, your network of contacts will expand thanks to the many professionals from a wide range of sectors you will network with on these upskilling and reskilling courses.

Never stop learning: what training to focus on?

Being aware of the importance of upskilling and reskilling concepts to your professional career is just as crucial as knowing what to focus your development efforts on. Remember that the aim of continuous learning is to prepare you to tackle the changes produced in the labour market and, therefore, any training should be in line with these. 

In this regard, the World Economic Forum, in its recent report on the Future of Work, also breaks down which areas of expertise will experience greater demand from organisations over the coming five years. These are competences related to critical thinking and analytical skills, innovation, creativity and proactivity, complex problem solving, emotional intelligence and self-management to cope with stress and VUCA environments, continual improvement, developing a customer-centric approach, leadership skills, teamwork and communications skills, and technological adaptation.  

However, it should be remembered that, while these are transversal skills which will contribute to your training, you will need to pinpoint a specific focus -depending on your field of work- around which you want to reorient your career or update your knowledge.

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How to design your personal upskilling and reskilling plan

When designing your own upskilling or reskilling programme, keep in mind a set of factors that will help you to define key areas of your continuous learning plan: 

  • Set work objectives: the first question you should ask yourself is what you want to achieve with this training. Do you want to feel better prepared to carry out your current job, or are you looking for a promotion at your company? Would you like to change careers and look for new job opportunities? These questions can help identify what training to focus on. So, if your answer fits the first scenario, you should develop an upskilling plan, while if it's more in line with the second case, you should opt to reskill. 

  • Analyse current strengths and weaknesses: it is essential to analyse your starting point, i.e., you need to evaluate which skills you already excel at, which have room for improvement and which new skills you can gain. To do so, why not complete a personal SWOT analysis?

  • Study existing knowledge gaps: next, compare your current professional profile with market demands. For example, you might not be a great communicator, but that may not be needed in the job you want to secure, so it’s better to focus your efforts on a different skill that's more essential to the job you'd like to do. 

  • Pick specific upskilling and reskilling activities: with this global vision of the skills you already have and the ones you need, you can go ahead and design your upskilling or reskilling plan, picking specific training programmes that will help enhance your career. However, we recommend you set some SMART objectives, in other words, objectives that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. 

  • Apply the new knowledge: according to Edgar Dale and Bruce Nylan's cone of learning, the best way to learn a new skill is by putting it into practice. So don't just limit yourself to attending a training course -look for the opportunity to apply your new-found skills through internships, new job opportunities or networking. 

  • Cultivate a lifelong learning approach: make sure to periodically review and update your plan. Don't forget that market demands are constantly changing and you have to be ready to tackle them. The best way to do so is to build in a pre-set review to your upskilling or reskilling plan.

How to upskill and reskill through the Santander Scholarships Skills - MBA Essentials programme

To help you gain or improve your skills, Banco Santander is launching the calls for 900 Santander Scholarships Skills | MBA Essentials 2022 - LSE. These are delivered by The London School of Economics and Political Science, one of the most prestigious global educational institutions for economics and business studies.

On this certified 10-week course, delivered 100% online in weekly asynchronous modules, you will quickly and effectively acquire the essential business skills to be able to make better decisions and achieve greater impact in your organisation. The course is offered in English, Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese.

This is a unique opportunity in which you can get to grips with the three pillars of management and business leadership taught on an MBA: strategy, finance and human resources. Additionally, you will have the support of LSE mentors and facilitators and will be able to interact with your fellow participants through weekly forums and group dynamics. 

Do you want to learn MBA fundamentals to play a greater role in decision making in your workplace? Sign up for Santander Scholarships Skills | MBA Essentials 2022 – LSE and whether you get it or not, remember: never stop learning.

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