On November 24, Anil Santhapuri, Director of Learning and Development for Asia Pacific Global Delivery Centers of Excellence at CGI, joined Simplilearn to talk about Upskilling & Re-skilling Strategies to Create Future-proof Careers. He spoke about what every person in the workforce should know about building a career that can endure through changes in technology and the economy.

What is Your Fog?

Anil started with a story from history. Florence Chadwick was the first woman to swim the English Channel in both directions. When she attempted to swim from Catalina Island to Los Angeles, she was unable to see the city in the fog and asked to be pulled out – she then found out she had stopped only a mile from shore, but her support team in the boats hadn’t told her how close she was. On her next attempt, she again encountered fog, but this time she pictured the shoreline in her mind and completed her swim.

Anil asked the audience, “What is your fog?” What are the things that make it hard for you to see your goal? Do you understand that your goal is still there, even when you can’t see it clearly?

Everything Changes, So You Must Change, Too

Anil presented a graph from Thomas Friedman’s book, “Thank You For Being Late.” It shows that as human adaptability has increased at a steady pace, technological advances have been accelerating. Now, technological change has outpaced the human capacity to adapt to it. The fast pace of change has caused upheaval in business: since 2000, more than half of the Fortune 500 companies have ceased to exist as other companies have grown to take their place.


Anil cited the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs 2020 Report. In the Fourth Industrial Revolution, six trends are affecting the future of jobs:

Accelerated Technology Adoption

The technologies of cloud computing, big data, and e-commerce are in full bloom with worldwide adoption in all industries. Emerging technologies like encryption, AI, and robotics are expanding in footprint and importance.

Automation, Double-disrupted

As emerging technologies disrupt the workforce, COVID-19 has delivered another shock to workers. The combined double-disruption has increased the pressure for businesses to adopt automation.

Jobs of Tomorrow

The changes in culture, technology, and automation will cause 85 million jobs to disappear over the next five years. However, in the same time frame, those changes will create 97 million different jobs.

Skills Gaps

40% of workers will need upskilling and reskilling in the next five years, but the good news is that they should need six months or less of skills training. As new skills gaps emerge, the workforce will need to adapt to the changing patterns of demand.

Inequality Exacerbation

As the jobs of lower-wage workers, women, and young people come under pressure, businesses and governments will need to take proactive measures to fight economic inequality.

Shorter Window of Up/Re-Skilling

For everyone in the workforce, core skills in their jobs will continue to evolve: 40% of those core job skills will change in the next five years. To stay effective in those jobs, half of all employees will need to upskill and reskill.

Anil shared an illustration from The Future of Jobs 2020 report that shows how workers have shifted between industries due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As jobs have disappeared in higher education, restaurants, retail, food & beverage, entertainment, and hospitality, workers have reskilled into hospital and health care, financial services, information technology & services, education management, and non-profit organization management.

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What Skills Are Most Important Today?

Anil listed fifteen key skills that workers need to focus on today:

  1. Analytical Thinking and Innovation 
  2. Active Learning and Learning Strategies
  3. Complex Problem Solving
  4. Critical Thinking and Analysis
  5. Creativity, Originality, and Initiative 
  6. Leadership and Social Influence
  7. Technology use, monitor, and control
  8. Technology designing and programming 
  9. Resilience, stress tolerance, and flexibility 
  10. Reasoning, problem-solving, and ideation
  11. Emotional Intelligence
  12. Troubleshooting and user experience 
  13. Service orientation
  14. Systems analysis and evaluation
  15. Persuasion and negotiation 

Anil pointed out that of these fifteen skills, only three (numbers 7, 8, and 12) are directly related to technology. The most important skills to deal with technological change and change of any kind relate to thinking, dealing with people, and learning.


Anil shared a diagram from a study from Ashoka and McKinsey, “The Skilling Challenge.” It shows how jobs fall into four categories: traditional “human” skills jobs, new “human” skills jobs, traditional digital skills jobs in information and communication technology (ICT), and new ICT jobs. There are four types of skilling programs that workers need to adapt to a changing world:

  1. Meta skilling: developing a new mindset for a broad career change.
  2. Upskilling: gaining traditional digital skills to move into ICT from traditional “human” skills jobs.
  3. Digital reskilling: learning emerging digital skills for complex new ICT jobs.
  4. “Human” reskilling: improving learning and innovation skills and developing inner strengths and talents.

Five Strategies to Care for Your Career

Anil quoted from Alice In Wonderland: 

“Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?

The Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.

Alice: I don't much care where.

The Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn't much matter which way you go.

To develop your career the way you want it to go, you need to pick a goal, but you also need to be adaptable as the world changes. Anil recommended five strategies for caring for your career:

Know Your Values and Strengths

To help them articulate their core values, Anil recommended the audience members take this free assessment. In addition, you need to know your workplace strengths (consider using the Gallup StrengthsFinder assessment).

Be Curious

Anil asks, “How curious are you about the world around you? The people around you? Your own self? He recommended that the audience members take a curiosity assessment here (free).

Conduct a Career SWOT

SWOT analysis looks at internal strengths and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats. Anil recommended that audience members ask themselves:

  • What are my career strengths?
  • What are my career weaknesses?
  • What are my career opportunities?
  • What are my career threats?

You can then reflect on the overall outlook of your SWOT analysis and decide on specific career actions you can take based on your SWOT results.

A Network of Mentors and Coaches

Anil said that a career is like a company, and it needs a board of directors. Who is on your career board of directors? Do you have a network of mentors, coaches, and peers? What communities of practices are you part of? How are you learning from the influencers in your chosen field of study? And, most importantly, how are you giving back to others?

Be a Learning Individual

Anil reiterated that lifelong learning is an essential part of future-proofing your career. He outlined a plan you can create to help you be action-biased about your learning:

  • Have 30-60-90 day upskilling/re-skilling goals
  • Align to your unique experience and strengths
  • Proactively find learning opportunities 
  • Focus on translating knowledge to practice
  • Stay informed on the industry trends and the emerging capabilities 
  • Build learning agility 

Anil invited audience members to reach out to him on LinkedIn. Watch the webinar replay above to get the full experience.

For more Simplilearn career resources, including articles and ebooks, see here. And if you are ready to become a learning individual by gaining specific skills and certifications for your career, check out the courses and Master’s programs Simplilearn offers.

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