It has always been important to upskill or reskill, but the economic and job uncertainty of 2020 has further hammered that point home.

Whether you're looking for a new job in 2021, making a career change, or planning to grow in your current job, all professionals should make a plan for upskilling/reskilling.


While COVID-19 resulted in many companies laying off employees, it also forced companies to reassign many employees in their current workforce. This trend could continue in 2021, according to the World Economics Forum's The Future Of Jobs Report 2020.

Of the employees who remained in their roles in 2020, about 40% can expect that the core skills for that position will change and 50% of employees will need upskilling, according to the report. The report also states that many employers are aware of the value of investing in their employees and that on average employers expect to offer upskilling and reskilling to just over 70% of employees by 2025.

Even if employers do step up their upskilling offerings, one fact remains: Professionals should take personal responsibility for their own upskilling/reskilling plan!

Here are some ways to develop your upskilling/reskilling plan:

Determine Your Goals

Young professional types up her career goals for the year.

No matter what position you're in as a professional, there's always a need for picking up new skills.

Those looking for jobs, or making a career change, need to gain new skills in order to make themselves attractive candidates to potential employers, especially in this competitive job market. In addition, even if you don't have all the skills required for a position, there are some employers that are equally impressed with the initiative to gain the skills, and they may be willing to take a chance on the right candidate.

For those who are employed, it's important to anticipate how your job may change in the coming years and plan accordingly. It's also important to take into account your personal goals for career growth and development.

No matter what your professional situation is, there are always important goals that can be accomplished.

Chart Your Course

Professionals today are lucky to live in an era where so many courses and professional certifications are available online. If you do some research, you'll likely find a course geared towards the skills that you're looking to acquire.

The big thing is the time and financial investment that you must put into acquiring these new skills. Like anything in life, you have to sacrifice a little up front to achieve long-term gains.

Professionals with jobs should consider scheduling a career discussion with their boss to start a conversation about goals for the year ahead and plans for upskilling. The company may take an interest in your initiative to upskill and offer some financial assistance. There are also some companies that offer financial assistance and schedule flexibility as part of their employee benefits packages.

If you're unemployed or not in a position to get assistance, then do a careful search of what's available. Sometimes companies open up courses for free or at a discounted rate for a limited time. Sites like LinkedIn and Coursera have diverse offerings at multiple price points.

It's ultimately up to the individual to determine how much they're willing to invest for a potential long-term gain.

Leverage Your Network

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Sometimes the best advice comes from people who have been there and done that.

It's smart to turn to your network if you have a question about upskilling or reskilling because if your professional network is large enough, chances are you can find someone with solid advice about potential strategies or courses.

Connections could also introduce you to new connections that are better suited to address your particular situation. So, not only do you gain some much needed advice, but you also make a new connection that could come in handy someday.

This is just another reason why it's important to constantly build your network—because it can help you on every step of the career journey.

Upskilling Can Be Fun Too!

Businesswoman smiles while taking an online course.

While learning new skills to accomplish your career goals is a top priority, it can also be rewarding to learn new skills just for your own personal satisfaction.

Perhaps you're a financial advisor with an interest in graphic design. By learning more about things that you enjoy or intrigue you, the more personal satisfaction and happiness you'll receive. And, you never know when one of these skills could be leveraged into something that may grow your career, or even help you start a side business.

Learning new skills has a way of opening up new doors, even ones that you didn't see coming.


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