21 Aug 2020

The Value of Upskilling – Why You Should Improve Yourself

“Our collective mentality towards upskilling must change, from nice-to-have, to must-do,” said Deputy Prime Minister DPM and Minister for Finance, Mr Heng Swee Keat during the Budget 2020 Round-Up Speech.

He also brought up the practical reality that makes upgrading yourself a must – the labour market is facing profound structural changes, as our resident workforce shrinks due to an aging population and rapid advances in technology and business models bring different skillsets into the hiring competition.

This highlights another important reason to upskill: there are jobs being created, but more and more job-mismatches are occurring as companies are unable to find jobseekers with the skillsets they require. This is especially true of the IT sector, as the survey reported that among jobs for PMETs, the most sought after workers last year were software, Web and multimedia developers; teaching and training professionals; and systems analysts.

For example, a recent survey commissioned by consulting firm Accenture and data solutions company Qlik found that 84% of local employees said they felt overwhelmed or unhappy when working with data, despite such work becoming more and more common in today’s workplace.

These broad trends reflect the importance of upgrading on a deeply individual level.

By doing a course or learning a new skill, you can keep yourself relevant to your job and job market. Obtaining a degree or professional certification relevant to your job will keep you relevant to your company as job requirements evolve.

This is especially true for non-academic specialisations such as IT or marketing, where skills rapidly become redundant. By attaining a qualification in the niche you’re in, you show your employer that you have stronger skills to do your work better.

Also, this positions you well for a promotion. Even if not directly relevant to your job description, an MBA or management course will teach you important leadership skills necessary at management level. There is also the gain of showing your superiors that you are embracing change and taking the chance to better yourself.

Conversely, should you decide to switch careers, upskilling is a must. You will have to learn a new set of skills for the job you wish to apply for. However, the core benefit you will gain is “crisis-proofing” your prospect, meaning that you will be able to weather a storm of retrenchment or redundancy in your industry by having a backup prepared.

There are also the mental and physical benefits to continuous learning such as increased self-confidence and better problem-solving skills. Learning a new skill can increase your ability to articulate to employers how you can make a difference in the workforce.

There is no longer any reason to abstain from upgrading yourself. Indeed, if you fail to do so you may soon find yourself redundant.
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