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Upskilling and Reskilling: Know the Difference and Why They’re Important for Career Resilience

As companies adapt to the pandemic and evolve technologically, workers need to keep up with the rapid changes. Where career resilience is concerned, upskilling and reskilling may be your best bet.

The future of work is already here. As the technology adoption wave hits globally, workers everywhere need to prepare themselves to ride it. Companies, too, are quickly adapting and evolving with new business models and innovating their operations. 

Singapore is already at the forefront of the digital transformation even years before Covid-19 struck through its Technology Roadmap. Manpower Minister Tan See Leng said

“The successful adoption of the Industry 4.0 technologies, and the development of a higher skilled workforce, are key to advancing Singapore’s goals of becoming the global innovation and talent hub for advanced manufacturing.”

So, even if you have a fancy degree from a top university, it will not guarantee career resilience if you don’t have the right skills and experience. 

Covid-19, the change accelerator

Since the pandemic, much of life’s activities have taken to the digital domain. Whether it’s shopping for groceries, communicating with family and friends, and even the way we work is done in part or in whole, online.

In discussing employment prospects in the first of a series of webinars organised by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Institute of Banking and Finance (IBF), DBS Bank chief executive Piyush Gupta said:

“This is the course of human history — that jobs disappear when technology changes and jobs get created. The reality is more jobs get created in this period of time than ever existed in the past. So, we need to have the faith and confidence that other jobs will come.”

However, these new jobs, which are often hybrids of their predecessors, require new skillsets and knowledge that was not as prevalent before. As for workers whose jobs are not made redundant by the pandemic, they have to adapt quickly to the changing workplace.

So, it’s time for you to decide. Do you choose to resist the change and do nothing about it to help your professional development, or do you see a great opportunity here to upgrade your skills and look forward to an exciting future of work?

Mark Lee’s friend, Beng In Black thinks we have to change or risk being left behind.    

Is upskilling and reskilling the same thing?

Often when discussing the subject of skills upgrading, the terms reskilling and upskilling is used interchangeably. However, they couldn’t be any more different from one another. Upskilling refers to the process where a worker learns advanced skills for his or her current occupation. 

Have a job but want to level up? Achieve career excellence, develop your skills, and expand your knowledge with resources from Career GRIT. Check it out now!

For example, a graphic designer takes up a course in animation to gain knowledge on how to animate graphics. There is no change in the vocation but the graphic designer has added a new skill to his or her repertoire. 

On the other hand, reskilling refers to a process where a worker gains new skills for an entirely new occupation. For example, an accountant who takes up a digital marketing course to become a digital marketer.

Despite the difference, one thing for sure is that both upskilling and reskilling empower you with new knowledge and skills. And that can only be a good thing.

Reskilling VS Upskilling: Which one to go for?

To sum it up, reskilling is about versatility, while upskilling is about specialisation. Taking the right reskilling and upskilling strategy makes you more agile professionally and sets you up for more opportunities because your skills are up-to-date and relevant to take on new job scopes and responsibilities. 

Workforce Singapore has programmes that are specially designed to help Singapore workers upskill and reskill. Here are some that you should check out!

SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways Programme

A programme to support mid-career individuals to widen their professional networks and gain new, in-demand skills while preparing for more permanent jobs in the future. Mid-career individuals can embark on industry-relevant attachment programmes lasting up to six months with approved host organisations to gain industry-relevant experience, develop new skills and boost their employability.

Career Conversion Programmes (CCP)

CCPs are for mid-career individuals to undergo skills conversion and move into new occupations or sectors that have good prospects and opportunities for progression. WSG offers about 100 CCPs to support mid-career individuals in career conversion. Through CCPs’ industry-recognised training, companies will gain a wider pool of candidates to consider when hiring. 

Read More: How and Why This Creative Director Became a Social Worker

If you’re still on the fence about reskilling and upskilling yourself, here are four reasons that may convince you to take the first step.

1. Prepares you for economic changes 

In a keynote address at The Straits Times Education Forum 2022, Education Minister Chan Chun Sing mentioned that the pace of acquiring skills and new knowledge must intensify as Singaporeans face the reality of having to change jobs every five years.

He also added that about 20 to 25% of Singapore’s local workforce of about three million may need to upskill yearly — that is about half a million adult workers every year.

Therefore, it is imperative that you continuously upskill to equip yourself with the right skills and knowledge to meet the fast-evolving industry demands and stay ahead of the changes that come our way.

2. Opens more career opportunities for you

In this day and age where a degree is commonplace, employers are looking above and beyond for potential employees with both theoretical and practical knowledge and skills. As former Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung said:

“Skills are what carry a premium now, and skills need to be honed throughout our lifetimes. All of us need to keep learning and deepening our skills throughout our lives.” 

Moreover, upskilling and reskilling set you apart from your competition, boosts your employability, and ensure that you are ready for the future of work. 

Want to increase your chances of nailing the job interview? Our virtual seminars can teach you effective job search strategies, enhance your personal brand, and more. Explore Career GRIT to learn more!

3. Opportunity to sharpen skills that you lack

When it comes to skills upgrading, workers tend to focus more on hard skills. However, soft skills are important too, as they affect how you work and interact with others. According to research by international recruitment firm Korn Ferry Focus, 92% of HR leaders view soft skills as crucial in a globalising economy. 

While soft skills are harder to evaluate, define and measure, they can still be learnt and developed. Soft skills will define what kind of a professional you are and how others perceive you. If you’re not sure how you can hone and develop your soft skills, reach out to a career coach.  

4. The mind-body benefits of learning

Professional development aside, learning new skills offers tremendous benefits to your mental health. When you actively pursue new knowledge and challenge yourself in different ways, you keep your mind engaged and sharp.

A study by Oxford University found that when people pursue lifelong learning, their mental health is positively impacted. Seeking out intellectual challenges can help develop feelings of productivity and growth, which alleviates feelings of stress. 

Future-proof your career

Despite its uncertainties, the future workplace looks bright – and it’s crucial to keep yourself updated and be open to change. However, if you’re unsure and need professional guidance on ways to upskill or reskill yourself, check out Career GRIT by Workforce Singapore’s Careers Connect which supports you at each job search stage with four types of curated career matching services!

Read More: Job Opportunities Abound: All You Need is GRIT to Seize Them

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