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What is Upskilling and Why it Matters

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What is Upskilling and Why it Matters

If you are looking for a job, or want to improve your career outlook, the answer may be upskilling. 

Upskilling is the process of workforce members adding to their skill set for professional growth and development. There are many benefits of upskilling, including a new career path, training employees for future career opportunities and helping employers address skills gaps in the workforce.

This might be the answer for the millions of Americans whose unemployment benefits are coming to an end.

According to Greg Iacurci of CNBC, federal unemployment programs that have paid jobless benefits since March 2020 are set to end on Sept. 6, 2021. Millions of people will lose benefits entirely at that time.

The good news is that upskilling can be done in a matter of weeks at little to no cost. 

Upskilling Options 

  • Soft skills, such as persuasion and adaptability, are an important aspect of upskilling. According to LinkedIn, 54% of all employees worldwide will need "significant upskilling reskilling by 2022." Check out some of the most needed soft skills and discover training courses online.

  • Take advantage of free training from your employer. Businesses have also turned to offering upskilling and reskilling opportunities to employees in order to help them advance or to fill a gap in skills. Programs may be in the form of video or live training or in the form of educational reimbursement programs. Your company may host them on an employee website or through a vendor. Rio Salado works with a number of companies to offer these opportunities.

  • Several online options for free or low-cost training programs include Coursera, Udemy and Skillshare. Class options cover everything from business and writing to the languages, arts and computer skills.

  • Don’t overlook your local community college’s professional development, certificate programs or single course options.

“New skills are often required – even when employees retain the same position within an organization,” said Gina Pinch, Rio Salado’s Faculty Chair for Business, Management, Public Administration, and Corporate/Government Programs. 

“These new skills could be driven by technology advances, strategic changes in a company’s vision, or forces outside the organization – such as the current pandemic. Staying up to date within your job may require learning new skills and adapting to change to ensure you remain competitive.”

Rio Student Upskills to Success

In 2017, Rio Salado student Miriam Ponsock enrolled in the college’s Spanish for Medical Interpretation classes.

The two-class sequence was created to give students the opportunity to gain valuable career skills while helping fill voids in the local healthcare community.

“I care about people and figured if I can get training in something I enjoy, and do it as a career, that is a good thing,” said Ponsock.

Angela Felix, Rio Salado’s Faculty Chair for Languages, added, “This training is perfect for students who are bilingual but don’t know what career path to follow. The most important thing to know is that students don’t have to have a medical background to take these classes.” 

After completing the first Spanish for Medical Interpretation class, Ponsock got a job with a company that specializes in interpreting and translation services.

Ultimately, these classes proved that upskilling can lead to better career opportunities. And in Ponsock’s case, it was after just one Rio Salado College class.

Whether you are currently employed, looking for a job or career change, or just want to learn something new, there are many resources available to help you get started upskilling. With a small investment of time, career advancement and opportunities await.

By Mira Radovich, Sr. Contributing Writer

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