How do you ‘upskill’ yourself?
You don’t expect such a question to pop up in a Whatsapp group but a post from a communicator piqued my interest.
Responses to that post included friendly suggestions to ‘do what it takes’, ‘read and interacting with peers’, ‘do courses online’, ‘write’ and ‘teach’.
When I Googled ‘upskill’ the search returned a definition – to learn or to teach workers new skills. While related words were ‘know-how’, ‘ingenuity’ and ‘aptitude’. It is therefore not enough to just learn yourself but while teaching others you also learn through preparation, the questions people ask and the connections you make in your mind. Upskilling is about raising your education levels and also going up the value chain in the work you do and deliver. Workplace competencies, intra, and inter-personal abilities are decision influencers when potential candidates are compared with each other.
As trends indicate, the need for generic skills are coming to a halt and qualifications at the workplace being put to better use – the need for upskilling continues to become even more critical. Shortening of learning and training cycles at work is another indicator of shifts in upskilling. For the first time, strategic thinking as a skill outranks writing as the most important skill for future growth in the most recent global study on public relations! Likewise, students are motivated to join the function hoping to learn new skills.
Thus for a communicator, it is essential to stay clued into what is going around you. I am often surprised by the low level of attention communicators pay to trends that shape the world around them – and it has nothing to do with communication itself. The geopolitical changes, the use of different media by leaders, new currency like bitcoin that is coming into play, the explosion of ‘fake’ and ‘alternative’ news, expectations from organizations to operate in sustainable ways, the refugee crisis and migration, the conflicts that are taking place around the globe and more. Why does it matter to the communicator and what has it got to do with upskilling?
For example, a Whatsapp forward I received shared that the CEO of a vehicle manufacturer commented about the future of business and talked about trends. It turned out that the content of the article has been floating about in different versions and there is no proof that it was in any way shared by the CEO himself! If you needed proof of fake news and implications for a communicator, this is one good example. Even while it is hard to verify the source of the article you can safely assume that the message has reached a lot of people, many of who may have believed it and attributed it to the CEO of the company.
A survey in a recently launched industry study listed the following skills ‘for organizations to change in the next 3 years’ – problem solving, design thinking, pattern recognition and analytics and intuition and innovation/lateral thinking. None of these were even coined as skills just a few years ago and yet today they are fundament to how we operate as teams and in organizations.
Likewise, I read a message school principal stating the need for students to develop 21st-century skills such as collaboration, teamwork, creativity, imagination, critical thinking and problem-solving.
Therefore, upskilling means –
– to be able to appreciate the evolving nature of the world around us. Also, to be able to sift and filter out what is relevant from what isn’t.
– to be aware of where you currently are, which way your organization is headed and what skills are the need in the future
– to own your career, be flexible and seek out mentors for learning
– be in touch with your inner being and the realities around
– to be humble and open to feedback
There is also an onus on everyone to upskill others. According to the 2016 World Economic Forum – Future of Jobs study while over a third of core skill sets of most occupations aren’t yet discovered or will be different social skills— such as persuasion, emotional intelligence and teaching others. These will be much more in demand than the niche technical abilities such as programming or equipment operation and control. A strong mix of basic work skills and strong social and collaboration skills are needed in the future. Also, not just learning yourself, but helping others get better at what they do will be an expectation in the future.
What do you think about upskilling? How important is it in your field of work? Interested to hear your views.