What Is Upskilling? The Better Way to Advance Your Career

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Change in life is constant, and the job landscape is no exception. After a year of major shifts and pivots for workplaces around the world, it’s become increasingly apparent that not only do industries need to be adaptable, but their people need to be too. Wondering how you can advance your career and propel your team into the workplace of the future? It’s time to learn about upskilling.

Keep reading to find out exactly what upskilling is, why it’s important, and all about the benefits it can bring (hello, increased earning potential). Follow our six-step guide to upskill yourself and your team. More of a visual learner? Skip ahead to the infographic to learn more.

Defining Upskilling

Upskilling is the process of using additional training or education to build upon and advance your current skills. It’s something that you can do for yourself, and it can also be provided to others.

Some examples of upskilling include taking a coding workshop to build on your programming knowledge or attending a virtual conference to learn about emerging industry trends. It’s good to note that upskilling is different from reskilling, which is when you learn new skills to do a different job.

Why Is Upskilling Important?

Technology evolves and advances industries at a fast pace. This can create a gap between the existing workforce’s skills and the skills that are now necessary to effectively execute their jobs. A report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation found that 74 percent of hiring managers acknowledge that a skills gap currently exists in the workforce, and this lack of adequate skills is one of the biggest obstacles in hiring.

Upskilling presents one major solution to this labor problem. Large companies like Amazon and PwC have already invested in upskilling programs for their employees. By advancing the skills of current and future professionals, the skills gap can be bridged. Additionally, both employees and employers will benefit from less turnover, expanded growth opportunities, and increased work productivity and satisfaction. In summary, upskilling allows working individuals to take charge of their own career mobility and employers get top talent as well.


Benefits of Upskilling

Upskilling is important across all industries, but what does it do for you? Let’s discuss the benefits it can have for you, your career, and your wallet.

Get a Raise

Upskilling can empower you by giving you the leverage you need to ask for a raise. When you bring new skills to the table and can demonstrate that those new skills will benefit your company or organization, you may have a solid case to increase your salary or wage. Also, if you take on additional duties as a result of your updated skills, it’s only fair that your compensation reflects this growth in responsibilities.

See Average U.S. Salaries

Make a Career Change

Another benefit of upskilling is the ability to make a career change. Maybe your acquired skills will help you land the promotion or help you get a similar job at a new company. Just remember that when making a career change, you should think about what makes the most financial sense for you. It’s important to carefully consider new opportunities, and when possible, to line up a new job before quitting your old one.

Enhance Your Work Life

Have you ever felt tired or bored of going through the same motions at work? Learning a new skill can give you the opportunity to switch it up. Using new skills can benefit your work life by helping you feel more productive and satisfied at work, and it also helps to bolster your motivation and morale. Additionally, if you end up expanding your role because of your skills, this will add new responsibilities to break up any work life monotony.

Improve Yourself

Finally, upskilling helps you improve yourself. Much like it’s important to keep your body active, it’s beneficial to keep your mind active too. Mentally stimulating activities can help keep your memory and thinking sharp, and may even slow down the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s. In addition, learning has the ability to add meaning to our lives and help us reach personal and professional fulfillment.


Areas to Up Your Skills and Earning Potential

The skills gap encompasses a lack of competencies in a variety of areas. These areas range from more technical STEM skills to soft skills. Learn about some of the major areas to upgrade your skills and how they can also up your earning potential.

Digital Upskilling

Digital upskilling is more necessary than ever as workplaces continue to operate remotely and through digital channels. Workers with digital skills earn an average of $20 more per hour than those who don’t have them. However, the National Skills Coalition found that about one in three U.S. workers had limited digital skills or lacked them completely. Level up your career and earning potential by learning new digital skills.

Digital skills:

  • Digital literacy
  • Programming
  • Web development
  • Software development
  • Information technology support
  • UX/UI design
  • Data visualization
  • Digital product management
  • Digital marketing
  • Social media


Statisticians, information security analysts, data scientists, and research analysts are projected to be among the top 20 fastest growing occupations in the next decade. Not only are they among the fastest growing, but each occupation’s median salary was at least $84,000 or higher. Future-proof your career and salary by upskilling in analytics.

Analytic Skills:

  • Data science and analytics
  • Digital business analysis
  • Critical thinking
  • Mathematical modeling
  • Research
  • Problem-solving
  • Inductive and deductive reasoning

Soft Skills

While technical STEM skills are very in demand, job and wage growth are especially strong for candidates who possess a good balance of both hard and soft skills. Soft skills are skills that you use when interacting with others and when managing your own work.

A Harvard researcher found that jobs requiring high levels of social skills grew 12 percent while less social job opportunities dwindled. This finding is indicative of how industries are using automation to replace roles that require less social interaction. Prove that you’re more valuable than any robot or algorithm by honing your soft skills.

Check out examples of soft skills, as well as a list of the top ones desired by companies below:

Top Soft Skills Desired by Companies:

  • Creativity
  • Persuasion
  • Collaboration
  • Adaptability
  • Emotional intelligence

Other Soft Skills:

  • Communication
  • People skills
  • Positivity
  • Listening skills
  • Social skills
  • Curiosity


Leadership is a skill that is valued in management positions and is necessary both in times of success and times of crisis. Employers often look for instances of leadership in work experience or extracurriculars when evaluating candidates. If you aim to reach a management position and the high median salary that comes with it ($105,000 and up), leadership skills will be important to your resume. Cultivate the leadership qualities that are necessary to up your earning potential today.

Leadership Skills:

  • Decision-making
  • Honesty
  • Resilience
  • Motivation
  • Ability to give constructive feedback
  • Commitment
  • Delegation
  • Risk-taking

Budget-Friendly Upskilling Resources

Browse some of the following online resources for free and budget-friendly ways to start learning new analytics, leadership, digital, and soft skills.

Upskill Yourself and Your Employees in 6 Steps

Now that you have an idea of areas to upskill in, start today by following these six steps. Each step focuses on tips for your own career benefit and also includes tips for helping your team.

Step 1. Identify Your Goals

The first step to upskilling is identifying your end goal. Begin by asking yourself what you want to achieve in your career. Maybe you’re in an entry-level position and want to be promoted to a senior role, or maybe you have an impossible goal like working your way up to CEO? Whatever your goal is, keeping it at the forefront of your plan is important to achieving it.

Tip For Upskilling Your Team: Ask each team member about their immediate and future career goals. Focusing in on these will help you plan a long-term course of action.

Step 2. Find Your Knowledge Gaps

With your ultimate goal in mind, it’s time to figure out your knowledge gaps. To do this, you can browse job descriptions for your desired position and figure out which required skills you don’t currently have. Alternatively, you can use your network and ask a mentor what skills they look for in a viable candidate for your desired position. Once you find your knowledge gaps, you can look into planning what you need to learn.

Tip For Upskilling Your Team: When it comes to upskilling, every employee will have different gaps to fill. Conduct a skills gap analysis to see what each member can improve on and merge that with their career goals when planning the next step.

Step 3: Formulate a Plan

Once you know your gaps, start planning how you will fill them with education and training. Remember to evaluate many different avenues for learning based on your budget. You may not need to shell out the money for an expensive bootcamp if you can learn from free videos online or purchase an affordable book to teach yourself.

After researching how to learn or acquire your skill, make a S.M.A.R.T. plan or one that is made of specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound objectives. Adjust your plan based on what you can realistically accomplish in your everyday life. A good plan is composed of multiple S.M.A.R.T. objectives that help you reach your goal. Find an example below:


Good Upskilling Objective:

  • I will spend X hours a day/week [learning method] for X amount of weeks/months in order to learn [skill].


  • I will spend two hours a day watching instructional videos for eight weeks in order to learn HTML.


  • I will spend five hours a week practicing my HTML for four months in order to gain practical HTML skills.

Tip For Upskilling Your Team: When planning to upskill your team, use the resources your company already has or help create some. If you don’t have many internal resources, look into creating a company budget or individual career development budgets for employees to learn on their own.

Step 4: Learn New Skills

Once you have an upskilling strategy, it’s time to get to work. Learning takes time, dedication, and constant application of your knowledge. Try to have fun along the way and don’t be afraid to seek out help. Remind yourself of your end goal throughout the process in order to stay motivated toward achieving it.

Tip For Upskilling Your Team: Equip your team with the necessary tools and resources to get the learning done. Provide help from mentors or peers when necessary. Additionally, offering financial support or incentives can help motivate them and bring you a positive return on investment.

Step 5: Act on your New Skills

It’s time to put your new skills to use. Begin with low-risk ways to test them out first. Try contributing some of your newfound knowledge in a meeting or offer to help out a team member who uses your skill but currently has a lot on their plate. If you apply your skill well, you can impress your team and open yourself up to bigger opportunities in the future.

After testing your skills, you may feel confident enough to make bigger moves. Think about asking your manager for more autonomy on a project or even about expanding your work duties. If you successfully demonstrate the worth of your valuable new skills over time, you can work on negotiating a promotion or a raise.

Tip For Upskilling Your Team: Once an employee has upskilled, give them ample opportunities for flexibility and career growth. Consider offering the chance to rotate positions and transfer their new skills or open up a discussion about role enlargement.

Step 6: Stay Adaptable

Upskilling is not a one and done kind of mentality. You never know what new knowledge gaps might pop up in your skillset or how your career goals may change over time. Staying adaptable by constantly learning is the key to growing with constantly evolving technologies and industries.

Tip For Upskilling Your Team: Create a culture of learning by offering year-round training and development opportunities.

In a constantly changing world, it’s important to remain adaptable and find ways to future-proof your livelihood. Take control of your career trajectory by upskilling and reap the many benefits it has for you, your career, and your finances.

Thinking about investing in an online course or bootcamp to start upskilling? Download the Mint app and create a new budget category for upskilling to budget your investment in yourself today.


Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics | O*Net Online | U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation | LinkedIn | Businesswire |

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