Student upskilling on a laptop

Upskilling and Reskilling: 5 Ways to Develop New Skills in the Workplace

11th January 2024

Upskilling and reskilling are increasingly popular buzzwords that are floated around companies of all industries. While they are similar, it’s important to note that they are two distinct areas of self-improvement that have different purposes and methods. 

In fact, reports indicate that 62% of HR directors believe that workers will need to upskill or reskill at least once a year if they’re looking to stay competitive in the current job market. 

If you’re looking to discover the difference between upskilling and reskilling, along with tips to improve your workplace skills then we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide to get you started. 

What are upskilling and reskilling and how are they different?

Upskilling and reskilling in the work can provide employees with vital skills, allowing them to improve their performance and take on new challenges. 

Upskilling is when employees learn additional skills to help them improve the way they work, adapt to changes in the industry, and enhance their performance in their current role. While some employees will take it upon themselves to upskill. If you’re a business owner, then it’s important to not only provide a company culture that encourages and rewards upskilling, but also makes it as easy as possible for employees to access resources that make upskilling simple.  

Reskilling is for those who need to learn new skills with the aim of taking on a new job. When employers reskill their employees, it is typically so that they can take on a new role in the company, but it can also be undertaken by individuals to prepare themselves for a new role at a different organisation. 

Your ultimate goals will determine whether you need to seek out upskilling or reskilling, if you’re looking to advance your career at your current company, then upskilling could be a more valuable use of your time. However, if you’re looking to enter a different role, company, or even industry, then reskilling will be essential for you to take those first steps. 

Why are upskilling and reskilling necessary?

Both upskilling and reskilling are a fantastic investment for employers and employees alike. 

It can help you gain a competitive advantage in the job market, making you more employable when you’re seeking to move companies, or even enter a new industry altogether. 

As an employer, offering training to your team is ideal for creating an environment where they feel challenged and achieve a greater sense of job satisfaction. In fact, research indicates that 94% of employees would stay with a company for longer if they felt like the company was making investments in their career and self-development. 

Upskilling and reskilling are vital processes that must be undertaken on your path towards career progression, and while you might not have prioritised career progression in the past, making it part of your future plans will provide you with long term benefits. These benefits include increasing your job satisfaction and allowing you greater financial security, boosting your confidence through access to new and exciting challenges, and the potential for career progression.

Upskilling and reskilling are also essential for those looking to future proof their career. With many industries moving fast in new directions, adapting your skillset is essential for remaining employable in your industry. Take every opportunity to learn new skills and actively seek out areas of development.

Whatever level of a company you work at, upskilling and reskilling are essential to success. And, if you’re looking for a career change, taking stock of your skills and making improvements should be your first step. 

It can be hard to know where to start. Many companies often perform a skills gap analysis to determine what skills are missing from their current workforce, but there’s no reason that you can’t take the initiative and perform a skills gap analysis on yourself. 

The National Careers Service has developed handy online skills health check to help you explore your skills. This is typically used by those looking to figure out what jobs they are best suited to, but there’s no reason you can’t use it to begin to identify the skills that you need to take time to work on. 

How can I develop new skills?

Upskilling and reskilling are both ever evolving processes – self-improvement solutions that you need to work on throughout your career. However, there are things that you can do to help get you started.

From courses to new qualifications, taking charge of your own development is vital. As both upskilling and reskilling both take time and commitment, it’s important that you have the necessary motivation to seek out these new opportunities. 

If you’re not sure where to start, speak to your employer about some of the avenues that might be open to you. Here are just five ways for you to better your skillset, whether you’re looking to grow your career in your current company or branch out into something new.  

1. Become More IT Literate

Despite technology’s increasing prevalence in our lives, many of us are not as IT literate as we could be. Studies show that 40% of workers successfully improved their digital skills during the pandemic. With many of us having to work remotely, this was of course a necessity, but there is still always room for improvement.  

There are the basic tools that we all include on our CVs, competency with Microsoft Word and Excel, you may not know as much about these as you think you do. Being able to use these processing tools to their full ability can make you an asset to any company. 

You don’t have to stop there however, become well versed in all of your companies software programmes, or if you’re already technologically literate, advance your existing education with a course such as our Data Science MSc and take your career to exciting new heights. 

With the increasing reliance on technology in our society, growing your career in a more IT centred direction can help you to future proof the path you’re on, and create exciting and rewarding new career opportunities. 

2. Enhance Your Soft Skills

Soft skills are essential for self-improvement, and they’re something that you can work on in your own time, and often and minimal to no cost. They’re not technical skills that require a specific qualification, typically soft skills are the skills you pick up along the way over the course of your education and career. 

Being able to communicate effectively, work as part of a team, self-motivate, and manage your time are all valuable skills that are sought after in all workplaces. Including them on your CV is of course important, but you need to be able to demonstrate them in action, from the day of your interview and throughout your career to come.

There are tools out there to help you develop these skills, from apps that make planning your time easier, to self-help books that can teach you how to communicate well with others. Start dedicating some of your free time to these soft skills and you’ll see an improvement in your work and become a more attractive prospect for a business.

3. Advance Your Qualifications

If you feel like you’ve reached as far as you can go with your current level of education, then your next step in your upskilling and reskilling journey might be furthering your qualifications.

Of course, returning to university isn’t easy for everyone, especially if you’ve already embarked on your career. However, with distance learning, you can study on your own time, allowing you to fit your education among your other responsibilities.

At ARU, we offer a wide range of courses that are designed to be studied while you work in the industry, letting you apply your learning from day one. These include both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, so that you can find the right course to suit your current level of education. 

While we do offer full bachelor’s degree programmes, we also offer a selection of foundation degrees. These are perfect for those looking to upskill in their industry as they can be completed in a shorter amount of time then a full degree but give you the option of returning to your studies later to ‘top-up’ your qualification. 

If you’re thinking about using higher education to upskill, then speak to your employer about the course that you feel will make you a more valuable asset to your company. 

4. Attend Conferences, Seminars, and Workshops

If you’re looking to upskill yourself, then consider attending seminars and workshops organised by others in your industries. 

Not only is this a way to create valuable connections, particularly if you’re ever looking for a change, but it’s also a great way to learn from the experience of experts in your field.

Attending conferences is now easier than it ever has been before, with many of them now often having the option to attend online, limiting the amount of time that you need to take off work. 

Similarly, there are numerous online resources that can provide you with valuable tools for your self-improvement, from YouTube videos, to LinkedIn Learning, where you can access a variety of business, creative, and technology oriented courses.    

5. Shadow Others in Your Company

Upskilling and reskilling are not only beneficial to you, but also to your employer. Having multiskilled employees can aid in a company’s growth and expand the type of work that they can take on. 

If you’re interested in learning another role within your industry, then speak to your employer about shadowing one of your colleagues. This way you can gain first-hand experience in other aspects of your field and help you take the next steps towards taking on more challenges at work and enhancing your performance. 

It can be easy to find yourself stuck in a rut with your current career, but seeking out opportunities to upskill or reskill, you can reignite your passion for the role, or even discover a new one that you had never considered before. 

Get your employer on board, and work with them to ensure that your training is up to scratch so that you can grow your career. Not only will this growth benefit you, but it helps your employer too. After all, if you’re feeling satisfied at work, valued and challenged, then you’re more likely to stick around for longer!