“Knowledge is power,” so the saying goes. This adage works especially in the competitive world of Information Technology. IT professionals with critical skills and relevant knowledge are valuable assets for any company that wants to succeed in today’s digital world. Furthermore, organizations are always on the lookout for these skilled individuals and compensate them handsomely if they join the company.

Furthermore, professionals already established in an organization stand a better chance of advancement if they take the initiative to upskill. Skilled employees are a valuable resource that most organizations want to keep on the payroll.

So how does an IT professional achieve this exalted status? Through upskilling, of course! This article explores the meaning of upskilling, why upskilling is essential, some upskilling examples, and a look at upskilling courses.

Read on, get familiar with upskill training, upskill strategy, and why it’s such a vital part of any IT career today.

What Is Upskilling?

Upskilling is the process where individuals acquire necessary new competencies and skills to meet today's business world's unique challenges.

For instance, an IT tech support member who has always relied on their tech skills to troubleshoot connectivity issues with the organization’s laptops and console systems now needs to know how to troubleshoot smartphone connectivity problems. The tech support professional would have to take a course on mobile technology or networking to address the issues that the newer technology poses. In other words, upskilling!

Why Is Upskilling Important?

Although upskilling has been around long before the advent of technology, it has increased organizations' need to train and develop their employees continually. As new technology gets introduced, it creates a demand for new skills to serve it and changes job requirements. Since innovation is a continuous process, job descriptions and required skills evolve along with the pace of technological advancement.

For example, once upon a time, automobiles were equipped with only manual transmissions. That’s all mechanics needed to know to diagnose and repair a car’s transmission problem. Then along comes automatic transmissions, and that becomes a game-changer. Now auto mechanics were required to learn how to fix them, as well.

That example carries over into today’s IT world.  We’ve gone from card readers, tape drives, 1200 baud telephone modems, and dot-matrix printers to cloud computing, flash drives, wireless networks, and laser printers.

Upskilling keeps professionals current on the latest innovations and procedures. Companies that fail to maintain that level of skill in their employees risk falling behind the competition. Upskilling is rapidly becoming a top global economic priority.

Here’s a list to sum up why upskilling is essential to any business or organization:

  • Employees want the chance to advance and grow
  • To increase employee morale, satisfaction, and performance, resulting in less turnover and reduced costs
  • It helps companies stay competitive
  • New technologies are changing job roles, and upskilling helps organizations keep up
  • If you upskill from within your company, you won’t have to spend time, money, and resources looking for outsiders to fill those roles

The Difference Between Upskilling and Reskilling

Upskilling trains employees with new skills and knowledge to better do their jobs and accommodate new procedures and technologies without changing their career path or position. Reskilling involves teaching employees the skills they need to perform a completely different job.

For instance, using our transmission mechanic, the garage owner says, “We’re sending you off to automobile heating and air-conditioning school, and that will be your new job when you’ve completed the program. Congratulations, you’re our new cooling and heating specialist! No more transmissions for you!”

Although both concepts differ, they offer the same advantage of helping companies to restructure, especially during difficult economic times.

Top Upskilling Tips with Examples for Today’s Learners

Organizations and individuals approach upskilling from different perspectives. A business tries to increase employees' skills to make them better at their jobs and keep them up to date with the latest developments. Individuals upskill to make themselves more marketable by expanding their skill set, engage in some self-improvement, equip themselves for a promotion they want, and yes, improve their current job performance.

Here’s a collection of upskilling best practices and tips for both businesses and individuals. You can also read here for more tips on how to upskill project management teams.

Identify Knowledge Gaps and Skill Deficiencies

Managers should initiate an inventory of the team’s skills and compare them to what the organization needs. This way, shortcomings stand out and can be quantified. Individuals who are upskilling on their own need to assume the role of a manager and perform a self-evaluation. That means laying out what your career path is, researching what skills it requires, and identifying gaps in your skill set.

Spell Out the Company’s and the Individual’s Goals, Creating Plans Tailored for Every Individual

Companies need to identify the company’s mission and what it hopes to achieve. That means sitting down with the prospective students and discussing their place in the organization and where their knowledge gaps lie. This discussion also means identifying and spelling out the employees' current skills, their role within the company, and how their position may change due to new procedures and technology.

Individuals need to set goals based on their career paths. Many interviewers ask candidates that same old question, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” It’s a cliché, but it’s also valid. Where DO you see yourself in five years? And what skills will you need to make that a reality?

Look at the Big Picture as Well as the Immediate Situation

Don’t be dazzled by every new, sexy bit of technology or discipline that comes down the road. Focus more on the core skills, which have more long-term relevance. Professionals should undoubtedly keep abreast of the latest innovations and procedures, but you must strike a balance between what’s needed immediately and what is best for the long haul.

Create a Realistic Training Program That Makes Sense

If you’re involved in upskilling for a company, you need to decide whether to choose a volume training program or use a one-on-one approach. There is no right or wrong answer, only what works best for your organization’s needs. Can you perform the upskilling using in-house resources, or will you need to consult an outside educational organization.

For individuals looking to upskill, you will need to factor in things like how much time you have to take courses, the cost, where to take them, and which courses you need to take. Once you know what you want to take, you need to develop your own program that accommodates your current financial and free time situations.

Shop Around

Many online courses help both individuals and organizations upskill in a cost-effective, convenient way. Choose an online class or attend a bootcamp. Do your research and find the resources that train you in the disciplines and knowledge you will need the most.

Ask Others About Their Experiences

In other words, do some networking! Ask your associates about their experiences in upskilling. Seek out forums online or post questions on sites like Quora. When you find out how others accomplished upskilling, you will get a clearer picture of the expectations and challenges you will face when you go for it.

Offer Rewards to Employees Who Upskill

Financial incentives help motivate employees who may otherwise be ambivalent about upskilling. These rewards could be reimbursement for classes taken, grants for attending conferences or training seminars, or increasing the overall training budget in-house. If employees know that their expenses will be covered, they show more initiative in boosting their skill set.

For the individual, well, it’s a little more challenging, since you’re doing everything on your own. But you can ask your manager or other corporate leaders in your company about the possibility of reimbursement. Naturally, this would have to be only for courses that would directly help you do your current job better, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Upskilling Made Easy

Whether it’s for corporate training or individual learning, Simplilearn offers a wide range of courses that meet your upskilling needs. Simplilearn is known for its corporate upskilling courses for enterprises in fields like digital business, IT, digital operations, and data and AI. Your organization will benefit from Simplilearn’s tailored solutions, created to accommodate your business’ needs and resources.

If you're a motivated individual going at the upskilling path alone, Simplilearn has what you need. Choose from a full catalog of certification courses, masters programs, and post-graduate programs, all designed to help you upskill and gain valuable cutting-edge knowledge. Once you've taken the required courses, you will be better positioned to shoot for that promotion or even find a better position somewhere else. The more skills you know, the more valuable you are to the commercial sector.

So, whether you’re responsible for corporate upskilling and training, or a student looking to boost your skills independently, Simplilearn has your back. Check it out today and beef up those skill sets!

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