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Upskilling is vital. If you are seeking a job, ensuring your business is nimble, or tackling a career challenge, upskilling will be an essential part of your new year. Here’s why.

If you run a business

Upskilling employees is cheaper than replacing them.  

According to Gallup, replacing an employee is expensive:  from one-half to two times the employee’s annual salary. And that’s probably a low estimate. When you lose an employee, you lose their relationships with customers and their knowledge of critical systems and workflows. A better investment is upskilling them on what they need to succeed.

Upskilling can help you diversify your team. Women and especially women of color lost significant ground during the pandemic.  Even prior to the crisis, progress toward parity between men and women in technical roles had been falling steadily.  Upskilling has been shown to improve diversity in leadership ranks, which is not only the right thing to do but also improves the bottom line. Be sure to make advancement learning available to ALL employees, of every race and gender as well as people with differing learning styles.

Technology is speeding up. And yet half of executives feel that a lack of familiarity with technology is a barrier to digitally transforming their companies.  A global survey of 4,300 managers and executives shows that 90% of workers feel they need to update their skills annually just to keep up. This is one area where retraining can help.

If you downsized your business during the pandemic, upskilling your workforce can help you gain relevance.  According to McKinsey, “to emerge stronger from the COVID-19 crisis, companies should start reskilling their workforces now.” Two researchers from the Aspen Institute say adding skills is the only way workers taking on new roles in downsized companies will be able to function: upskilling “is a lifeline that turns an overwhelmed and unprepared employee into one with the knowledge and skills to take on new tasks confidently and capably.”

If you are a worker…

Upskilling is essential if you want to move up.  Employees can take on new leadership roles when they add new knowledge and skills. With all the remote learning opportunities available, it’s great to know that e-learning boost retention by 25 to 60% (as opposed to 8-10% with traditional training).

You need tech skills for the distance economy.  In 2017, the McKinsey Global Institute estimated that as many as 375 million workers—or 14 percent of the global workforce—would have to switch occupations or acquire new skills by 2030 because of automation and artificial intelligence. One Brookings study found that the share of jobs requiring a high level of digital skills more than tripled—to encompass nearly a quarter of all jobs— between 2002 and 2016.  And the share of jobs requiring AI skills has grown 4.5X since 2013. The benefits of digital transformation are everywhere, from improving customer engagement and revenue to boosting employee morale.

Adding a certification to help you do your job better and get better pay. Workers with certifications such as PMP (Project Management Professional) earn more than their non-certified counterparts. According to one study, PMP’s earn 22 percent higher salaries than their non-certified peers across 42 countries.

If you are self-employed, now is the time to increase your learning. And you may even get tax deduction for the cost.  In addition to improving digital skills, consider what knowledge will make you better at running your small business. For example, there are loads of great courses in everything from public speaking to accounting on LinkedIn Learning.

 

Amy DeLouise owns a digital media company and helps people improve their digital and entrepreneurial skills with courses on LinkedIn Learning.

While I’m out at NAB Show, I thought I’d share a guest post by Matt Barker, a self-described tech geek, filmmaker and entrepreneur. He is a co-founder of getfilming.com, where he manages the online course production and the filmmaking community.

By Matt Barker

As the owner of an online start up, I spend a lot of time online. Some would even say I spend too much time online (my wife, mainly). I have to admit, staring at the screen all day long can become a little tedious but I wouldn’t change it for anything. I love what I do and I love how the tech and the internet has opened up a whole new world of possibilities. A particular favourite innovation that the online world has brought with it, is online education.

Gone are the days when you’d enrol for a course at your local college or university a year in advance and just wait for the learning to start. You can learn anything online from coding to filmmaking, from algebra to cake decorating and the best part is, you can learn from anywhere in the world, instantly and on your own schedule.

Lots of people reading this post will have enrolled in lots of courses online already. They would have learned a ton of information from expert tutors both on sites that house a plethora of courses like Skillshare or Udemy and from more specialist sites like Team Treehouse or GetFilming, an online Film School. I urge anyone and everyone to at least try online learning but if you still need some convincing, here’s five reasons why online education will help you succeed.

Expert tutors

Unlike traditional learning, when you enrol in an online course you get to choose who you want to learn from. There’s such a huge demand for online courses that there is an endless supply of new tutors, courses and schools opening every day. What this means is that working industry experts are realising that they can make a lot of money selling their knowledge. In some cases, they can make more teaching a subject online than they can make practising it in their day job – but this also means there is a lot of competition. To make decent money from teaching online, they have to produce a complete course for a specific topic that is better than any other course online. Having experts compete with each other to provide amazing education for us, is a great thing.

On Demand

Netflix and other streaming services introduced us to the world of on demand video. We’ve been spoilt and now everyone wants everything yesterday. Fortunately, it means if you decide you want to learn any topic, you will be able to find a course straight away and start learning instantly. If you’re thinking of a career change you can find a relevant eLearning site that caters for your topic and find out if that career is for you in a few days. How many people have spent years in education only to realise they don’t actually like the career they have invested so much time in?

Community of Learners

When you learn online, you don’t just get an expert tutor teaching you what they know. You have a whole community of people learning with you. This is great for motivation, for help if you get stuck, to find recommendations on other courses and it’s also great for networking. That all important element of any career path. It’s all about who you know and by learning online, you instantly connect with a community of people studying the same topic and who knows, maybe that person who helped you with your course can also be the person to give you your big break.

Evolving Courses

The real beauty of learning online is that the curriculum isn’t static. Let’s take creating websites as an example. If you go to college to learn how to code a website, chances are that by the time you finish your course, the technology you have learnt will be outdated. With online courses, it is not just important but necessary for the tutors to keep the content up to date. Any new technology that replaces old technology will be updated in the course to reflect the changes, almost in real time.

Something for Everyone!

The more you look into online education, the more you will find courses in topics you didn’t even know existed. Every single person can find a course that suits them to either learn a new hobby or to completely change their careers. Some eLearning platforms like Skillshare try to cater for every taste (and they do a very good job). Skillshare is more for the casual learner, someone who perhaps wants to develop their skills or make themselves more attractive to their boss. There are subscription learning portals such as Lynda.com, which started out as a platform for office software learning, but has rapidly expanded with hundreds of courses on Photography, Video Production and more. Then there are sites like GetFilming, which is an online film school and community. They specialise in teaching you everything you need to know to pursue your dream career as a filmmaker, whether that’s as a director, screenwriter, VFX artist or any other job in the Film and TV industry.

Conclusion

There are many reasons to want to learn something new. Personal development is a privilege we now have at our fingertips, so I say let’s take full advantage of it. Traditional education for years has been an exceptional way to teach and to learn, there’s no denying that. But if you are thinking of learning a new topic, I would highly recommend looking into online learning.