Business

Stepping up in 2021

As a New Year's resolution, employers could offer employees training or upskilling opportunities as their business respo
As a New Year’s resolution, employers could offer employees training or upskilling opportunities as their business responds to changes within their industry. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

Many people create New Year’s resolutions or goals — things they would like to do differently as well as ways to grow and improve in the new year.

For individuals seeking to make a change in their career and/or learn new skills in 2021, there is no shortage of possibilities, provided one is willing to put in the effort.

Employers can have New Year’s resolutions, as well. One such resolution could involve offering employees training or upskilling opportunities as their business responds to changes within their industry as well as changes in technology.

For the individual, a career path that includes curiosity and a willingness to learn new things will increase their attractiveness to employers and open many doors.

While learning something new requires patience and determination, the upside is the continued investment in oneself, which also can add value to one’s current or future employer.

The year 2020 has increased opportunities for online learning and access to many resources to upskill or retrain, especially for those who have been impacted by layoffs in industries devastated by the pandemic.

Through many state-sponsored programs and myriad websites, there are numerous ways for one to learn a new skill or get up to speed on the latest technology for little to no cost.

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When we work with individuals and groups after a layoff, often we will hear, “I want to work somewhere that offers job security.” Or “I want to change into a career where I am guaranteed a job until retirement.”

This is a normal and understandable response to job loss. However, the reality is that there is no such thing as true job security.

None of us has control over whether the industry, organization or profession we have chosen will offer job security for life.

Instead, it is up to each of us to recognize the life experience we have to offer, to continually invest in our skills and to trust our ability to solve problems.

What problems do you like to solve? What are you good at? And in what ways would you like to grow?

The year 2021 could be your opportunity to upskill and create job security within yourself.

Employers are in a similar situation in that they have had to upskill their own workforce or offer opportunities to applicants where they can upskill upon hiring. According to PwC’s 23rd CEO Survey 2020, “74 percent of CEOs are concerned about the availability of key skills.”

Even though the survey was taken before the start of COVID-19 pandemic, PwC’s survey went on to say, “Today that same lack of people with the right skills and adaptability could hamper companies’ ability to thrive in a post-pandemic economy.”

Thanks to changes in technology, the need for upskilling is not going away any time soon.

One example of an organization focused on upskilling is IBM, which coined the term “new collar” worker in its quest to hire individuals from non-traditional backgrounds or those who may not have the technical education and experience needed.

Instead, applicants may possess the practical experience and determination to succeed and IBM is providing the opportunity to teach the technical skills needed.

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In a similar way, employers with needs in the trades have used programs through state initiatives to teach those who are willing to learn.

It is difficult to hide from rapid technological change, as it continues to impact the way we work and live every day.

While many jobs might be displaced by upgrades in technology, at the same time other jobs are created that require workers who can understand how to leverage this technology.

Providing upskilling and retraining opportunities can help an employer keep good employees. Despite advances in technology, people skills, sometimes called soft skills, still are in high demand.

The ability to analyze, make decisions, show empathy, solve problems, offer creative solutions and communicate effectively still are important, and improving people skills is an area where employers can provide training and help employees upskill.

When individuals and organizations put time and effort into upskilling, everyone can benefit. Individuals — whether they choose to work for an employer or for themselves — get to decide their career path and whether they wish to add new skills.

This activity can ignite passion for one’s career and make one more marketable. Employers can positively support their team members by providing a culture of learning and development.

Further, employers could reduce turnover and recruiting expenses by providing upskilling opportunities to stay ahead of technological or other changes.

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Whether thinking about your own career or your business plans for 2021, you get to choose how upskilling is going to work for you or your organization.

Keeping an open mind and embracing technology will help you identify what resources will be used.

As you step into 2021, how will you upskill?

Jennifer Lawrence is owner of Corridor HR Solutions, a career transition and consulting firm; jennifer@corrdidorcolution.com; www.corridorhrsolutions.com.

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