Reskilling and Upskilling: Consider the Future

Business, and contemporary culture at large – whenever that is – has many buzzwords. Reskilling and upskilling are two examples of the more recent ones. These have become staples of the business lexicon in the last few years. As the workforce and market changes, and will continue to, at an accelerated pace due to technological advancements and the developing economy, reskilling and upskilling have been proposed as solutions.

Automation and AI, as well as changing town and city centres, are key factors in why reskilling and upskilling are necessary. Over the coming decades, jobs like assembly workers, taxi drivers, and cashiers will be performed by machines, as they are seen as more efficient. Experts are reassuring workers by expecting the jobs which will be lost will be replaced by ones generated by the incoming technology and the changing economy.

Definitions of Reskilling and Upskilling

Reskilling is teaching an existing employee new skills so they can do a different job or fulfil a new role. Upskilling is teaching an existing employee new stills so they can do the job they are currently doing but better. They are similar but have different contexts. Both seek to invest in existing employees, fostering a culture of in-house development and opportunities.


Reskilling and upskilling can be achieved by attending course and conferences, being trained or mentored on-the-job, completing eLearning modules, or a mix two or more of them.

Provide Opportunities

Investing in employees to reskill or upskill is essential but providing opportunities to experience new skills and roles is arguably more essential. Without these opportunities, employees can and will look elsewhere, leaving a company that they feel restricted by for one with greener pastures. Ensuring there are clear pathways within the company allows employees to feel the progression as more than a mechanism for survival. It should imbue the work with sentimentality.

Business, in general, take on the role of a  new, unique casino, where businesses gamble on their employees hoping for a return. Losses cannot be avoided. However, there is a long-game. The pay-off and the wins come consistently if the infrastructure is the focus.

Potential Issues

There are issues which could be inherent in the infrastructure, though, depending on its implementation. One is how continuous reskilling and upskilling are. The other is what the real focus of reskilling or upskilling is.

Businesses approach to issue one is entirely dependent on what industry they’re in and what the job roles are. However, it is easy to imagine and expect companies to reskill and upskill employees at specific points of time when a problem is obvious. Worker A performs one job for ten years before his job begins to become obsolete and the company sends them on courses for a few weeks before initiating them in a new role which they’d perform for another long period of time. This sees reskilling and upskilling as gateways. One start on one side, pass through it, and end up somewhere new or better. For some, maybe most, jobs, this will likely be the case. However, developing a more continuous, playful, and research-based job role, where intangible mental skills like curiosity, determination, and creativity are developed, in addition to the specific skills to be competent at a job.

These mental skills, in the long run, are far more valuable as, to touch on the second issue, the skills taught to an employee being reskilled might become obsolete too. Treating reskilling and upskilling as teaching a determined number of skills is a problem of complacency. There is no series of job-based technical skills which are futureproof but the necessity for curiosity, determination, and creativity are pivotal and routine.

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