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Upskilling versus Reskilling: What are they and what are their differences?


In an ever-expanding world run by modernization and technology, industries and businesses also widen their horizons and reaches far more networks across the globe.

And as more tech-driven industries are in need of new tech-based skills to optimize the more modern workplace, people must cope up to these demands and become even more competitive in the field.

A 2018 report from the World Economic Forum suggests that by the year 2022, 75 million jobs in over 20 major economies or industries will be displaced. Moreover, an infographic from Bongo released the same year presented findings implying that almost a half percentage of workloads and tasks will be taken over by artificial intelligence programs, systems, and machines in the next 4 years.

Simultaneously, over a hundred million new jobs calling for new and improved career skillsets are expected to be established as we venture through more advanced technologies and a digital transformation pace.

Especially in a fast-paced global modern market, these numbers are pretty daunting. But while this worldwide technological shift can be overwhelmingly demanding, it can also offer various new ways for people to upskill and reskill and ultimately cope up to the ever-increasing challenges imposed by contemporary industries---which then brings us back to our topic for today: upskilling and reskilling.

Upskilling and Reskilling have quite synonymous messages, connotations, and examples, but still maintain distinguished from the other.

So in this post, we will be discussing what they are or what they mean, their notable differences, a few examples or illustrations, and the different ways you can do to upskill and reskill in and outside the workplace.


What are Upskilling and Reskilling?

Reskilling and upskilling are usually interchanged by a lot of people. But as you will see as we move on, they have important differences. The Cambridge dictionary defines upskilling and reskilling as:


Upskilling – “the process of learning new skills or of teaching workers new skills.”

Reskilling – “the process of learning new skills so you can do a different job, or of training people to do a different job.”


In a nutshell, reskilling primarily involve creating new skills that are needed to be able to successfully perform a new/different job, workload, or role under a company. Most of the time, employees who undergo reskilling programs are instructed to enroll in short courses or even go through college classes to complete a formal degree and certification in a distinct area of concentration (apart from their own field). Reskilling is often implemented when employees’ prior duties and responsibilities become irrelevant because of technological advances in the workplace.

Reskilling, overall, aims to help people gain new and different skillsets.

On the other hand, upskilling, is the same that it also aims to improve the skillsets of people undergoing an upskilling program. But it differs from the first one in a way that it focuses more on improving an employee’s current skills in their present job or field to further optimize their performance and work output. This can also help employees attain a deeper understanding, gain greater expertise, and obtain a more comprehensive grasp of their own field---all of which can also possibly put them in higher-level roles within their current career path.

Upskilling, overall, aims to help people improve or expand their current skillsets. 


Either way, both are considered to be strategic responses to the ever-changing and increasingly challenging skill demands imposed by tech-driven global industries. And both aims to close talent and skill gaps prevalent in modern workplaces as well.

Throughout the full course of your career, you can safely expect that you will be undergoing a lot of upskilling and reskilling processes as your industry copes up to technological demands.


When to Upskill or Reskill

Upskilling versus Reskilling: What are they and what are their differences?

They are both important training processes for employees coming from a broad spectrum of fields because they essentially imply improvement, development, progress, and personal or professional growth. This means one simply doesn’t weigh in more than the other. As a matter of fact, working on them simultaneously or interchangeably can help you learn a new skill all the while mastering something else which can be an efficient process for some people.

It’s important, however, to know when to upskill and reskill. And this wholly depend on your present career needs and objectives.

For example, if your current job requires employees to learn separate skillsets because of new implementations forwarded by your company’s management, then you should pursue ways to reskill yourself. Similarly, if you plan to change career paths in the near future and you need to gain new skills relevant to a new job, reskilling should be your way to go as well.

But if you want to master your current skillsets more profoundly so that you can apply to a higher position in your current field someday, then upskilling yourself is the better choice.

Different Ways to Upskill and Reskill

Upskilling versus Reskilling: What are they and what are their differences?

Because of the availability of resources that are virtually everywhere, upskilling and reskilling is made easier for everyone. And there are a lot of methods you can pursue as well. Let’s check some of them out.

A. Take online courses and trainings with formal diplomas and certifications

Upskilling versus Reskilling: What are they and what are their differences?

Whether you want to learn new things or want to gain better mastery in your own area of interest or expertise, you can take online classes and trainings and even earn formal certificates to boost your qualifications and credentials. These courses are designed to teach broad and thorough lessons on different fields in short-term arrangements which can efficiently help in your upskilling and reskilling process.

B. Learn in-demand skills needed in in-demand jobs

Upskilling versus Reskilling: What are they and what are their differences?

Upskilling and reskilling is more effective if you invest it in in-demand skills relevant to modern in-demand jobs such as varying positions under tech-driven industries. This includes basic computer skills like office applications and more advanced skillsets involving programming, software and web development, and a lot more.

C. Improve your soft skills

Upskilling versus Reskilling: What are they and what are their differences?

Soft skills are essential skills that you can use flexibly in almost every type of industry or career path you might want to pursue. This is particularly more relevant in a world where the global market is fluid on their manpower or skill demands. Soft skills include communication skills, people skills, social-emotional intelligence, and overall attitude, character, and personality.

D. Build networks

Upskilling versus Reskilling: What are they and what are their differences?

Building professional relations in the workplace and expanding your networks will help you learn from people’s firsthand accounts. This can let you gain knowledge that goes beyond the book and rather hinges on real-life or grounded experiences. Generally, building networks is one of the most practical techniques in upskilling or reskilling and ultimately advancing your career

Career Prep

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