What is Upskilling and why you need to pay more attention to it than ever?

As per the latest NASSCOM report, up to 40 percent of the estimated 4 million workforce in India would undergo re-skilling over the next 5 years. 

You must have come across articles blaring data points like the one above in the past few months and would’ve brushed them aside conveniently, but if you are planning to make 2018 a milestone year in terms of Career Growth it’s time you took the latest corporate buzzword seriously. ‘Upskilling’ has arrived and it is here to stay.

In light of the layoffs witnessed by the IT industry last year Reskilling/Upskilling has become the new mantra to success, and for the all the right reasons. But before we get into why it is super important to upskill yourself more than ever now let’s understand what upskilling really entails.

What is Upskilling?

Upskilling refers to improving the skillset of professionals, usually through training to enable them to perform better in their jobs and help them progress through the company into various job roles and opportunities. Upskilling opportunities can be provided using a number of formats, ranging from short courses to getting higher qualifications or gaining certifications through part-time or full-time programs.

Here are the top reasons Why Upskilling is important for you now more than ever:

  1. It helps you keep up with latest Industry Demand & trends– Learning new skills or improving existing skillsets ensures that you are up to pace with the shift in trends your domain is witnessing. As an example take The Union Budget 2018 and its clear focus on AI, Big Data and Robotics and their application in the Digital Economy. We can clearly see career opportunities are set to rise exponentially in these domains within the next 2-3 years. So if you were to acquire a new skill or develop expertise in a new domain, Analytics, Big Data, AI or IOT could be a great option.
  2. You can increase your pay-check in no-time- According to a staffing solutions company, TeamLease Services, India will face a demand-supply gap of 2 lakh data analytics professionals by 2020. This lag between demand and supply exists not only in India but is a global phenomenon. As per the estimates of McKinsey, the gap between supply and requisite demand for analytics skills in the US will reach 50-60% by 2018. With the industry all set to witness such a huge demand gap you can utilize the opportunity to get a lucrative pay package in the respective domain. A sure shot way to develop a new competency in it would be to take up an industry-oriented program focusing on a new-age skill. You might have to invest a year or 6 months with such a course but the gains in terms of better employment opportunities and rise in pay scale will all be worth it.
  3. You can future-proof your career– More technological advancements sometimes translate to more and more people being replaced at their jobs. A recent threat to millions of jobs is posed by Automation and Artifical Intelligence, although the number of jobs that will be automated due to AI is debatable it is always better to future-proof your career by developing new competencies. It is hence beneficial to become an irreplaceable asset to your organization by constantly proving that you have the grit and enthusiasm to learn new things and stay updated.
  4. Enable a successful career transition– In case you are planning to transition into a new role or enter a new domain altogether, Upskilling will help you facilitate the shift with much more ease. A program or course that enables you to build a body of work through industry-based projects will surely be helpful in tackling interviews with prospective employers with confidence and will display domain knowledge. Look for a program which has a good mix of industry participation which will allow you to network with industry experts and thought leaders and give you opportunities for referrals and endorsements.

The bottom line

With newer employment avenues opening up in the IT industry, the emphasis is slowly shifting from Scale to Skill. Technical competencies aligned with the Digital Economy are therefore in high demand. The time to explore new waters and ride the new wave is now. Re-skill or perish is the only way forward.

The only resolution you should be making in 2017

Every New Year brings with it the hope of a new beginning in our lives and along with it, come the myriad of resolutions we make to ourselves. Research indicates that most of the resolutions made by people are towards fitness and weight loss. As a result, January becomes a windfall month for most gymnasiums and fitness studios while most of us don’t become any leaner or fitter with passing years the one thing that we can definitely achieve is being a better version of ourselves. To achieve that you don’t have to make tall promises to yourself just Make Learning a Habit.

Learning new things is simple, achievable and one of the most profitable investments you can make each year.

 

1. Learning is like weight-loss

train

Let me make an uncanny analogy here: Aspiring to becoming leaner is very similar to wanting to learn something new. Ultimately, you have to change something that’s core in your behaviour to have the desired results. Both these goals need focus, determination and lots of discipline. And lastly, just as in weight loss as in education, there are no low-hanging fruits or express results. Both take time to fructify, but once you go the distance, there is no looking back.

 

2. Why ‘Learning’ in 2017?

Why we need to learn in 2017

The right question here should be ‘Why Not’. There has never been a better time to learn and frankly speaking, with the changing dynamics of businesses and technology disruption impacting us, if we don’t make learning a habit in 2017 and onwards, our professional credentials would be questionable at best and irrelevant at worst. Learning new skills and upgrading one’s professional capabilities is no longer a matter of choice but a necessity to have a fruitful career. In today’s time and age, the half-life of knowledgehalf-life of knowledge is forever decreasing which means that one needs to keep learning always to stay professionally relevant. The new reality is that what you learn at 25, will not take you till 35.

 

3. What should I learn?

What should you learn

This is like standing by an ocean and trying to find the perfect starting point for your swim. What you can learn is limited only by your intellectual bandwidth and interest. For the sake of brevity, let us focus on what the professional in you needs to learn. Depending upon the industry you are in or aspire to be in, you need to understand the trends that are driving growth. If you are unclear about it, you should talk to your seniors from the industry and pick their brains. Pick an area that is affecting most companies in your space and eventually will impact everyone and build your skill sets in that. Professional competencies such as analytics, big data engineering, product management, information security, intellectual property, digital marketing etc. are high growth areas where most companies are struggling for ‘good’ talent. Finding a sweet spot like this and making yourself competent in it will ensure your career benefits from this talent shortage.

 

4. Where should I learn?

e-learning

Learning in 2017 will be easier than ever before. From blogs to YouTube or TED, from companies offering online learning to mobile apps, ‘lack of access’ cannot be your excuse to not learning. But having said that, having a plethora of options makes it overwhelming and confusing.

I come across some candidates who know what the skills they need to acquire but are not sure if they will be able to learn. I usually advise them to first test the waters by accessing some free content online. YouTube is usually a good source for this. See if you like what you are learning and are able to grasp it.

 

5. Why do we fail to learn online?

why we fail to learn

If you are the kind that does not suffer from such starting troubles, you will usually find your learning options to be either completely online courses or blended courses (online + occasional weekend classroom sessions). Given this spread, how do you decide which format to go for?

Completely online courses provide convenience since you don’t need to attend any classroom sessions. But, online learning has been plagued by abysmally low rates of completion. The main reason for this is that for most of us, we learn better when we learn in a classroom setting with peers and faculty, who we can talk to in person.

The flexibility of attending class room sessions over few weekends in a month gives you the advantage of mixing the best of two worlds – the flexibility of online learning and the learning effectiveness of classroom learning. In our blended analytics program, we have seen hundreds of candidates do our program after having done one or multiple online courses. When asked, the most common response we get is because they feel that their learning in the online programs was incomplete. Also, when it comes to acquiring hard skills such as analytics, big data or machine learning, it is important to focus on programs that are more exhaustive and immersive and don’t take a superficial approach by promising to teach something in a matter of some hours.

 

6. What will it take?

learning in 2017

Learning is for everyone. Amongst the thousands of candidates who take our programs every year, we see about 30% of them to be with in the 15-30 year experience bracket. While there is no age to imbibe the habit of learning, just like with all good habits, the sooner you do it, the better you are. Having said that, learning is hard work. Depending upon when was the last time you were in a class, you would need discipline, focus and perseverance to go the whole distance. Usually, we have seen that the first two months are the hardest but once you settle into a routine within the first sixty days, you will go one to achieve the results you desire. The advice that we give to all our learners is to start small. Begin by dedicating an hour every day for the first 2 weeks, then about 8-10 hours a week for the next thirty days. Small changes in your habit will ultimately lead to big gains in your learning and professional success.

On that note, in 2017, make a promise to yourself. To learn something new and to challenge your professional status quo. Make Learning a habit and build the career you’ve always wanted. Oh and as for fitness, try playing a sport – 5 days a week. It is fun and just as effective (or ineffective) 🙂