Young woman sitting in a library reading with headphones on surrounded by books trying to reskill for her career.
Image: RossHelen/Shutterstock

How to reskill for the future of work and boost your career

2 Jul 2018

Does reskilling mean retraining? Do you have to go back to square one to prepare for the jobs of the future?

With the future of work upon us, a big proportion of the workforce will have to upskill and reskill in order to excel in their career.

But it’s not as simple as telling everyone to go back and retrain as, for example, a software engineer.

Speaking to HR expert Josh Bersin last year, he said that while a lot of people think a huge amount of the global workforce will be in programming and engineering, the reality is that these will only make up 8-10pc of it.

Preparing for the future of work doesn’t mean going back to education for a new degree in one of those ‘jobs of the future’ we keep hearing about.

It’s about learning how to adapt the skills you already have, ensuring they are transferable and always making sure those soft skills that can’t be automated are as sharp as they can possibly be.

Technical skills

While reskilling for the future doesn’t mean you should try and shoe-horn your way into a technology career even when you don’t want one, it also doesn’t mean you’re going to remain immune from technology.

You don’t have to necessarily obtain a full degree in software development or automation. However, you do need to identify the technological advances that are occurring in your own job, and upskill accordingly.

Improving your digital fluency broadly will make you much more employable in the future and there are plenty of online courses that will bring you up to speed in pretty much whatever technical knowledge you want to develop.

There are certain skills and competencies that straddle both hard and soft skills, but all will go a long way towards your career.

Knowledge of design thinking, new media literacy, computational thinking and virtual collaboration will all be essential in the future of work. While these aren’t necessarily, high-proficiency tech skills, they are embedded in technology. There are also some other technical skills that will be helpful in almost any career.

Soft skills

The soft skills are always the most talked about when it comes to the future of work, and they’re always the hardest to develop.

There are a number of soft skills that we could all do with upskilling in – creativity, project management, communication and adaptability, to name but a few.

Even though a number of the technical skills cross over to soft skills, the truth is that brushing up on digital fluency can be researched, studied and developed through active learning. It’s not as easy to improve soft skills, though it is possible. For instance, communication skills take practice, while exercising your creative muscles is something you need to consciously set aside time for.

Leadership skills will always be an important asset, no matter where you are in your career. Whether you have to lead a team of two or 20, being a good leader will always be an important skill, no matter how far into the automated world we go. If you’re not yet a leader, this is the best time to hone those skills.

When you need to reskill to stay relevant in your career, it can feel a little daunting. However, the key takeaway you should remember is that you don’t have to go back to square one.

There is always room to upskill and reskill throughout your career because the future of work will be all about lifelong learning.

Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the editor of Silicon Republic in 2023, having worked as the deputy editor since February 2020. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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