In March’s budget, chancellor Jeremy Hunt revealed plans to boost funding for ‘returnerships’ – fast-track apprenticeships targeted towards the Over 50s.
The scheme is designed to coax the middle-aged demographic back to work through vocational retraining and stresses the importance of lifelong learning and development.
This development prompts a wider discussion about the significance of upskilling – one of the biggest recruitment trends of the modern age.
Upskilling involves acquiring new skills through training or education to help workers remain competitive and productive. According to the World Economic Forum, it is central to the economy and can boost global GDP by as much as $6 trillion by 2030.
What, then, are the most important reasons for upskilling, and how can those – old and young – future-proof their skillsets for the digital future?
The Skills Gap
The skills gap is one of the biggest challenges modern businesses face today. A report by the Learning and Work Institute, for instance, predicted that skill gaps in the UK workforce will cost the country £120 billion by 2030. Upskilling staff could be a solution to this.
Instead of searching fruitlessly for that silver bullet hire, businesses should consider their current workforce. Is there someone who can be moulded into shape with a little training?
Upskilling may take many forms, including on-site training, e-learning, workshops, or self-reflection tasks. This can be a largely low-risk, inexpensive process which can really enhance your workforce.
Meanwhile, for the employee, participating in a learning culture can be an opportunity for self-growth and development.
74% view training as a matter of personal responsibility, so upskilling can be a means of rising to the challenges posed by the skills gap and underlining your increasing relevance to your organisation.
Future-proof your career
Whether you’re working in digital or pursuing offshore work, chances are you’re going to be pining for longevity in your career.
Upskilling is a pivotal part of meeting the evolving demands of the job and can ensure you remain at the top of your game – and the vanguard of your industry.
This could include extra IT training if your company is digitising its processes to taking on coaching and mentorship courses to improve your leadership qualities and soft skills. Other examples may include courses in modern arenas like finance, SEO, analytics and project management or community upskilling in which colleagues learn different skills from each other in peer-led exercises.
A recent survey found that 37% of UK workers fear their job could be at risk from automation and digital transformation. However, highly skilled, morale-boosting employees are difficult to replace, so you’ll likely stick around in your chosen industry.
New people, new experiences
Whether you’re in the “returnership” mould looking for a fresh challenge or an enterprising young graduate thirsty for knowledge, you can’t put a price on new experiences and the self-development this can bring.
Upskilling not just facilitates better work and higher efficiency but can broaden people’s horizons as human beings. This could include an employee discovering a latent passion for teaching and mentorship or a natural aptitude for on-site first aid.
Enrolling in extra education (on or offline) can land you in situations where you’re likely to meet like-minded people. These could include mentor figures or co-learners who could become prospective career contacts along the way.
Upgrading skills is more than simply career development but can also enable you to develop into a more rounded person.