Upskilling vs Reskilling: What is the Difference & How to Use it in 2022

The word saturation seems to follow the job market everywhere. There are reports of not enough workers to go around for the number of jobs available. Additionally, as the mainstreaming of technology surges, the modern workforce must look at upskilling and reskilling to not only retain their jobs but to make a financial and creative leap.

​​There are roughly 65 unemployed individuals for every 100 job openings, and there are a bevy of reasons for this supply-demand gap. For starters, job seekers felt discouraged after job-hunting for months on end when the pandemic first hit, leading to indiscriminate layoffs. At the same time, there were employees who reached retirement age as well as those who couldn’t keep up with the changing technology. This created jobs that even young people with no experience found hard to keep up with. Undoubtedly, the last two years have taught us that skills acquired a couple of years ago no longer fulfil the current need. 

So before delving into the nitty-gritty of upskilling and reskilling, let’s recap what the terms mean. 

What is Upskilling?

Upskilling is the process of expanding someone’s skill set, generally by adding to an existing body of knowledge. There is a gap between employees’ skill sets and the evolving job description. Therefore, upskilling is the path to future employment without hiring new employees. As for employees, upskilling ensures enhancing one’s knowledge while being future-ready.

What is Reskilling?

On the other hand, unlike upskilling, reskilling is the process of learning new skills needed to do an entirely different job. Reskilling is not necessarily limited to staying in the same company. It is the art of learning how to deliver on a wholly new position within the same field. Reskilling is highly useful in repurposing workers or for anyone looking to restart their career. 

Upskilling vs Reskilling

The processes of upskilling and reskilling present different opportunities and challenges, but their end goal is the same. To create more employment opportunities and bridge the gap between demands of a role and the existing skill set of an employee. Let’s look at different practical examples to understand the critical differences between the two. 

Upskilling and Reskilling in Practice

Upskilling refers to improving pre-existing skills and adding new ones to ensure that the employee is ready to hustle in a fast-paced world – digital and otherwise. The human resources industry benefits from employees with an all-rounded knowledge of their field. This competency is further enhanced by a paid training program to improve employees’ skills, especially in the technology and corporate sphere. 

For example, a marketer may find that his/her skills are starting to seem redundant without knowledge of analytics. Signing up for and investing in learning marketing analytics can greatly impact his/her career and prepare him for new responsibilities/opportunities. A certification also lends credibility to this skill. 

Next promotion is a course awayBenefits of Upskilling and Reskilling

Typically, upskilling can have different impacts:

  • Move up the corporate ladder with advanced skills
  • Leverage technology in order to stay relevant in the market
  • New recruits find it easier to address real life situations with the help of upskilling courses, much like getting on-the-job training or mentorship

On the other hand, reskilling lets employees learn a new skill set and allows them to shift careers. This process benefits employees and employers alike, with job security for the former and no hiring costs for the latter. 

For instance, a new department opens up in a client servicing content agency. The senior content manager sees an opportunity in the new venture and requests a transfer. Before the transfer, they undergo training in social media marketing. They attend an SEO, SEM, and PPC course – and gain a gamut of digital marketing skills. They then successfully transition to the new department, taking charge of digital marketing accounts while retaining their creative talents. 

Reskilling has been proven beneficial to train and retain employees, wherein current employees train for new skills or new jobs within the same organization. A change in compliance policies also calls for a reskilling session for all employees. It has also been an effective way to support and encourage in-house talent. Therefore, HR policies generally employ this method to reward and push talented employees.  

Upskilling and reskilling, though used interchangeably, aren’t the same thing. But they are often used in combination to ensure a smoother, complete process of skill enhancement and talent retention. 

Impact of Upskilling and Reskilling

The Emeritus Impact Survey of 2021 shows 94% of past participants believe that their learning journey has had a positive impact on their careers. Learners shared how choosing to upskill has enriched their lives and careers. 

One such learner is Richard Andrews. He completed the Digital Disruption: Digital Transformation Strategies from Cambridge Judge Business School with Emeritus. “It’s easy to get into a rut and find that one is not thinking creatively or strategically. This programme re-energised me and enabled me to gain new insights and reconnect with knowledge I already had in a very powerful way. I felt more confident, had renewed energy and started to think and act more creatively and engage in more impactful discussions and strategic thinking sessions with colleagues and clients alike,” he says, regarding his experience with upskilling through Emeritus.

The future of job security lies in enhancing your skills or learning new ones. The need for multi-talented individuals has seen an increase in the last couple of years. Whether you want to upskill or reskill, either your employees or yourself, it’s definitely a great idea. Knowledge is everything, and skills enhance natural talent. 

So, if you or your company are looking for online courses and training programs to boost employee morale and productivity, evaluate your options at Emeritus and accelerate your career transformation today! 

By Iha Sharma

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