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Skills-Based Economy: Why Upskilling & Reskilling Are Crucial

Why it is important to improve employability, personal development and entrepreneurship

Photo by Amy Hirschi on Unsplash

Author, Latt Omar Shariman

The unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic has adversely impacted the global economy — with business sectors grappling in the wake of the pandemic. During this economic downturn,  the surge in the unemployment rate is increasingly apparent. Social Security Organisation’s (Socso) Employment Insurance System (EIS) added that the percentage of job losses has increased by 42 per cent for this first quarter.

As vacancies have fallen to one of their lowest levels, fresh graduates, in particular, have to brace themselves for an uncertain job market. Many job seekers have looked towards reskilling and upskilling in the face of a difficult job market. As demand for new capabilities gathers pace, the need for reskilling and upskilling are seen as more substantial than the previous years. Reskilling and upskilling are also vital in adapting to the emergence of digital transformation. 

Upskilling Employees In The Workforce and Its Benefits 

Technology has been a powerful driving force in business innovation from mobile to artificial intelligence (AI) to big data analytics over the past several decades—coercing businesses in search for new business models and reviewing workplace culture. Today, as the “new normal” sets in, organisations have now started to leverage the potential of technology in enhancing their business productivity.

As business models change and technology gain more prominence, it is pivotal for organisations to take an active role in supporting their existing workforce through reskilling and upskilling to face digitalisation. Strategic upskilling efforts involve identifying skill gaps and mismatches in organisations to ensure that upskilling efforts are aligned with workforce needs.

For instance, some businesses may look towards reskilling and upskilling their workforces for technical skills, skills involving digital advancement or even soft skills like leadership or client management. Once the skill gaps are identified, developing and implementing reskilling and upskilling can be done in various ways, for example, classroom training sessions, blended learning approach and frequent training sessions.   

As organisations reskill and upskill their workforce, they can expect to have more cross-trained and well-rounded employees. A study conducted by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) also found that organisations that heavily invest in reskilling and upskilling their employees are able to retain their current workforce and encourage employee engagement and retention.

Reskilling and Upskilling for Personal Development

Upskilling has also taken on a new urgency for individuals, particularly for the unemployed and job seekers. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, job seekers are entering the most difficult job market in 2020. In the US, for instance, the Chamber of Commerce Foundation has found that hiring managers are beginning to focus more on competencies and not degrees when filling roles. This economic downturn has undoubtedly changed the state of the job market as employers look for candidates with multiple skill sets. 

Getting on the right track in the face of today’s changing labour market is important for job seekers and employees, striving for job opportunities and career advancement. As such, there are various digital learning platforms such as LinkedIn Learning and Skillshare, which offer individuals to reskill and upskill themselves. 

In recent years, technology-related skills such as Microsoft Office Suite and HTML, communication skills such as digital communications and copywriting, and marketing skills such as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM), are of value and in demand for every organisation. This is particularly important as organisations look to digitise their businesses, hoping to better prepare themselves in case of another global crisis.

Entrepreneurs To Upskill In Running A Business

The Covid-19 pandemic has also seen many home-grown businesses, particularly online culinary businesses formed, despite the implementation of Movement Control Order (MCO). The work-from-home policy and MCO allowed individuals to venture into businesses to source for an alternative income during these uncertain times— from home-cooked meals to cakes and desserts to reusable face masks and more. 

The spread of coronavirus challenges everyone to meet the “new normal” and for some aspiring entrepreneurs, starting a new business in this difficult time might seem daunting. Hence, it is vital for these individuals to gain an extensive pool of knowledge and hone multiple skills before commencing their businesses to have a better understanding of their practices. During this pandemic, aspiring entrepreneurs can look towards expanding their knowledge and skillsets through online learning platforms.

While these online platforms have erased barriers for learning, breaching of the language or semantic barrier is still underway. Many of these e-learning platforms offer programmes and courses in English, resulting in some non-English speakers facing difficulties to acquire new skills and comprehend knowledge

In reality, there are over 300 million Malay speakers in Southeast Asia, and of this sum, many may have to deal with the language barrier with online courses and seek alternatives. With the massive online learning platforms available, Ruang Cikgu is the first accredited e-learning platform to overcome the language-learning barrier, offering Malay speakers an opportunity to upskill themselves with its all-in-one platform.

With the world experiencing unprecedented challenges from Covid-19, it is important for every individual to be ever-ready to face another depth of an economic recession. As such, individuals should prepare to face the new skill-based economy for strong and sustainable growth.

Latt Omar Shariman is the Co-Founder of Ruang Cikgu

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