Upskilling and Reskilling in 2023

In 2023, the world — and the way we work — is changing rapidly. In its 2020 Future of Jobs Report, the World Economic Forum (WEF) predicts that in the next 10 years, the rise of new technologies and automation will ignite an influx of new jobs in emerging professions. Many existing jobs may become redundant, while others will undergo significant transformations requiring new skills.

As a result of this evolution, upskilling and reskilling are more important than ever — but what exactly does it mean to “upskill” or “reskill” yourself? In this article, we’ll review the key differences between upskilling and reskilling, why they are crucial to your career trajectory and how to kickstart your skill-building journey.

What Are Upskilling and Reskilling?

The terms “upskilling” and “reskilling” may seem interchangeable, but they have distinct meanings that set them apart. Upskill, meaning the process of learning new skills to better perform the duties of your current job, typically algins with the goal of career advancement. Some examples of upskilling include a UX designer signing up for a user journey workshop to improve their skills in designing apps, or a merchandiser attending a retail conference to learn about the latest industry trends.

Reskilling, on the other hand, is the process of learning new skills unrelated to your current job, with the goal of pivoting to a different job or industry. An executive assistant interested in becoming a software developer might reskill by enrolling in a program like Berkeley Coding Boot Camp. Alternatively, a brick-and-mortar retail worker going for a corporate marketing job might kickstart their reskilling journey by signing up for a relevant course — like Berkeley Digital Marketing Boot Camp.

Why Upskilling and Reskilling Are Important

Technological innovation advances industries rapidly and shows no signs of slowing in the future. This trend can create a skills gap — the gap between an existing workforce’s abilities and those needed to perform tasks effectively moving into the future. Together, upskilling and reskilling present a dynamic solution for bridging skills gaps across the contemporary work landscape, which continues to shift as we adopt new technologies. According to the 2020 Citrix Talent Accelerator report (PDF, 2,008KB), half of the global workforce will require either upskilling or reskilling by 2025.

Workflows are changing, meaning that the skills and jobs that are in demand are also changing. Although many of today’s roles will become obsolete due to industry advancements, the “jobs of the future” are already providing an abundance of exciting opportunities into emergent fields. The WEF predicts that, within the decade, job growth will offset job destruction. Specifically, there will be surging demand for workers to fill roles in data science, AI, engineering, cloud computing and the green economy (to name a few).

For individuals who are experiencing stagnation or preparing to move into a new field with better prospects, upskilling and reskilling are viable options for increasing competencies in the current job market. Plus, with the near-constant evolution within “future-proof” industries and roles, upskilling will likely become a routine component for even the most relevant professions. Gaining a strong foothold in the different ways you can gain new knowledge and enhance your abilities is a solid first step for anyone envisioning a long, prosperous career.

Employers see the value in skills-based learning as well. According to a recent Forbes article, with the pandemic shrinking hiring budgets across businesses of all sizes, more companies are investing in their current workforce by encouraging employees to enroll in continuing education and similar programs. In doing so, they ensure that employees are better equipped to perform tasks, can evolve with changing industry landscapes and are more likely to stay with the company as their careers progress — all while saving money for the organization.

A chart that displays the top 20 job roles increasing and decreasing in demand across industries.

It’s clear that the demand for individuals with technical skills is growing more prevalent — and there are plenty of ways to obtain those skills in a short period of time, such as boot camps. Depending on experience level, you can become a full stack web developer in as short as 12 weeks, and with many programs offering career development support, individuals enrolled in boot camps find success in landing their first web development jobs more easily than those who opt for self-directed learning. In fact, boot camps even make it possible to break into a cybersecurity career without a formal degree.

Whereas the average growth rate for occupations in the U.S. is 8 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that by 2030, employment for:

How Will Upskilling and Reskilling Benefit You?

Upskilling and reskilling are invaluable career strategies across any industry experiencing growth and increased demand. But how can they benefit you? Here, we’ll review how upskilling and reskilling can open doors to new career opportunities, get you better pay and boost your confidence and satisfaction at work.

Upskill to Advance

If your goal is to better perform the duties of your current role, upskilling is for you. Perhaps you’ve been given more responsibility at your job that you want to train for, or you’ve simply identified areas where you want to grow as a professional. A web developer, for instance, might take a course in an advanced programming language to cultivate relevant specialty skills that will enhance their work. Meanwhile, an operations associate being considered for a management position might sign up for a leadership training course to become better qualified.

As technology advances and evolves, upskilling will continue to be critical for both employers and employees; this is true regardless of whether your current career path is where you plan to stay or not. New technology creates possibilities that can only become realized by a workforce that knows how to use it effectively. Workers who adopt an ethos of lifelong learning — instead of focusing strictly on utilizing their existing skills — will thrive in the new world of work, characterized by its dynamism.

Upskilling is a great way to:

  • Bridge your knowledge gaps
  • Keep up with technological developments relevant to your field
  • Diversify your skill set
  • Boost your confidence in performing the duties of your job

All of this bolsters your desirability as a candidate for promotions and other opportunities in your field, priming you for advancement on your career path.

Reskill to Creatively Redirect

If you want to pivot to a different career or industry (ie. an unrelated job at your company or elsewhere), reskilling may be a strong option for you. Career changes are much more common today than they once were — meaning you’re not alone. As we mentioned above, boot camps and similar programs can help you get up to speed in an entirely new field in a short timeframe, giving you the opportunity to cater your career path to your particular interests, values and transferable skills. In 2021, a Harris Poll survey of American workers, conducted for Fast Company, found that 52 percent of respondents considered a job change and 44 percent planned to make the switch. As of 2022, Zippia estimates that 65 percent of American workers may be actively looking for a new job.

People decide to change careers for many reasons, including the promise of a higher salary; improved work-life balance; a more flexible working environment (e.g. remote versus in-person); or improved satisfaction with company leadership. Perhaps you’re pursuing a job that will challenge you more, or one that’s more aligned with your personal philosophies and worldview. For instance, if sustainability and climate change activism are important to you, you might explore green economy roles and organizations.

Reskilling is also crucial for workers in roles that are at risk of becoming redundant in the age of automation. Reskilling can help you make a lateral career move at your company (e.g., from accounting to marketing) without necessarily having to go back to school full-time. Big businesses like Amazon and AT&T have invested in upskilling and reskilling programs to mobilize their existing talent pools for new, in-demand positions. But 94 percent of business leaders surveyed by the WEF report that they expect employees to pick up new skills on the job, or on their own.

How to Get Started Upskilling and Reskilling

As you begin your upskilling or reskilling journey, remember to consider both your hard and soft skills. In today’s competitive market, both skill sets are equally valuable; you can’t have one without the other. Cultivating them in tandem is crucial to achieving success in your career — and to being a good leader.

Here, we’ll review the key differences between hard and soft skills and how you can upskill or reskill yourself in both areas.

Upskilling or Reskilling Your Hard Skills

Hard skills are measurable, technical skills that are easily defined. These can be acquired by taking a course, reading books or training at work. Demonstrations of hard skills may include degrees or certificates granted (quantifying your specialty knowledge), your typing speed, your proficiency in languages or your proficiency using platforms (i.e., Microsoft Office Suite, Google Drive, Outlook). As technology evolves your industry and the way we work and live, your hard skills should evolve to match.

Here’s how you can upskill or reskill your hard skills:

  • Enrolling in a boot camp
  • Taking a certification course online or through a school
  • Working with a mentor
  • Reading books and guides or listening to podcasts

Building on your relevant technical skills will make you a more competitive candidate in the job market. According to research conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) in 2019, 83 percent of HR professionals surveyed reported difficulty recruiting suitable candidates — a third of respondents cited a lack of necessary technical skills. The research also identified a gap between how employers most commonly approach hiring in a talent shortage — and what HR professionals report to be the most effective remedy. Whereas employers often turn to advertising and outsourcing recruiting, HR professionals recommend giving employees access to skills-based training programs and increasing compensation.

Upskilling or Reskilling Your Soft Skills

Soft skills are subjective, interpersonal skills that are more difficult to measure than hard skills. They relate to how you interact with people and respond to situations that arise at work, how you manage your emotions and resolve conflict. Examples of soft skills include leadership, critical thinking, emotional intelligence, communication and adaptability.

In an interview from 2018, LinkedIn Executive Chairman Jeff Weiner told CNBC, “Somewhat surprisingly … Communications is the number one skills gap across those major cities in the United States.” Recent research conducted by Harvard Business Review and Burning Glass shows that between 2017 and 2019, employers reduced degree requirements for 46 percent of “middle-skill” positions and 31 percent of “high-skill” positions. As an alternative, these employers featured more in-depth descriptions of the soft skills they desired in candidates in their job listings.

Here’s how you can upskill our reskill your soft skills:

  • Networking
  • Taking the lead on projects
  • Taking on tasks outside of your comfort zone
  • Enrolling in a management skills training course
  • Working with or becoming a mentor

A chart that highlights the perceived skills and skill groups with growing demand through 2025.

Both hard and soft skills are in-demand for employers. Business leaders surveyed by the WEF reported a demand for candidates skilled in the following areas:

  • Analytical thinking and innovation
  • Active learning and learning strategies
  • Complex problem-solving
  • Critical thinking and analysis
  • Creativity, originality and initiative

Upskill or Reskill Yourself in 4 Steps

Ready to start your upskilling or reskilling journey? Follow these four simple steps.

A great place to begin is asking yourself what you want out of your career. What do you want to achieve? Whatever your goal is, keep it at the forefront of your mind at each step in your skill-building journey.

Have you found areas where your skills are lacking? Have there been changes to your workflow, spurred by technology in which you want to train? Do you want to work on your communication skills, or perhaps diversify your technical skill set?

What is the most effective way you can address and close your knowledge gaps? This might involve enrolling in a course, or reaching out to a colleague you look up to as a mentor. Do your research, formulate a plan and act on it.

Remember that skill-building is not a one-time endeavor so much as a mindset, and it is a process to revisit at various stages throughout your career. There will always be a return on learning. Once you learn new skills, they are yours to keep.

Upskill and Reskill With a Boot Camp Today

If you’re looking for courses to help you upskill or reskill, boot camps are a great way to cultivate the most in-demand skills without pursuing a formal degree. Whether you’re looking to advance on your current path or pivot into an emergent field, enrolling in a boot camp can put you on a fast track to the career that’s right for you.

Berkeley Boot Camps offer a range of industry-specific online courses, where you can dive into a range of emergent fields like:

Boot camp programs can help you gain fundamental knowledge to stay ahead of trends and pursue a career in a fruitful field, building a promising and rewarding professional path.

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