Last August, I spent the month teaching my audience how to upskill themselves. Upskilling is one of those words that’s still a little bit out of reach for most people. It hasn’t entered mainstream just yet.
That’s all about to change in 2020. Upskilling is going to go mainstream in people’s professional lives. First, people love to kick off a new decade with big, bold moves. People are eager to build on ideas from the previous decade and start again, both in their professional and personal lives.
Second, the pace at which change is happening in our workplace is staggering. LinkedIn featured two posts this past week that highlighted the shifts we’re already seeing in the workplace. The first, “Where have all the secretaries gone?” covered the disappearance of administrative assistant jobs, often staffed by women without degrees. There was a quote in that article that really struck me:
Rita Maxwell had no idea she was about to lose the job she’d had for nearly 20 years when her boss told her to meet him in the conference room at the end of the work day. “I was completely taken aback when he called me into the meeting room to let me know my position had been eliminated,” said Maxwell, who was let go in early 2017. “There’s just not a lot of loyalty anymore.”Administrative assistant jobs helped propel many women into the middle class. Now they’re disappearing.
Loyalty, specifically the lack of it, is just one of many changes to our new world of work.
The second LinkedIn highlight covered the teacher shortage, with more and more teachers opting out of teaching because of low pay. While our lack of teachers is a national problem, it struck me because teaching used to be a sure fire path to career success and fulfillment. It was the secure job that people often changed into when they wanted an escape from their burnt out path. Now days, not so much.
There’s even a map of the fastest disappearing jobs in the US by state.
On top of that, we see more articles about new types of jobs, like this one, highlighting architects working in video game design as a creative way to apply their skills. It’s yet another traditional career path that’s adapting to our new world of work. It’s also enough to get any burnt out architect thinking, how do I get into that?!
It’s time to upskill yourself
The result is that a lot more people are starting to see the impact, good and bad, of new technology in their workplace. And they’re looking for ways to adapt.
Adaptation is upskilling. Though upskilling isn’t a household term just yet, it will be in 2020 thanks to the impact of recent changes in the workplace.
Upskilling is a verb and a mindset. It’s the act of learning new skills to improve your professional life. It’s also a willingness to accept that things are changing, take charge of your learning and development, and not burry your head in the sand.
And while the term upskilling is frequently thrown around in articles as if one can just upskill tomorrow, upskilling is not an easy process. Every time I read yet another leader writing in a big publication (looking at you HBR) declare that our collective workforce simply needs to upskill, I roll my eyes. Often these articles are written by people who haven’t actually upskilled themselves.
In fact, upskilling is downright hard. I say this as someone who is doing it and as someone who just wrote a book teaching people how to upskill. For most of us, we haven’t been taught how to upskill.
It makes me think of a quote from a post I wrote last year:
The benefits of the comfort zone are appealing. Steady (though not always satisfying) incomes, “secure” jobs, relaxed routines, and predictable schedules are as comforting to humans as they are to animals. In this phase, people limit their learning to things they learn on the job, not knowing that yesterday’s lessons rarely solve tomorrow’s challenges… Without skill upgrades or a willingness to learn, people are caught in a rut. They are unable to see when the next trend is about to catch up or when the current one is about to die. For the few that can see the new trend, the pain of having to upgrade their skills far supersedes the pleasure of staying in the comfort zone.-How to stay relevant in today’s rapidly-changing job market
Making a plan in 2020 to upskill yourself
If you’re curious about how to upskill yourself, follow me on LinkedIn where I’ll be hosting trainings in January and February. You can also dive into some of my previous posts to get a handle on where we’re headed in the future of work (or get my book):
If listening is more your style, here’s recent podcast I did on how to outsmart artificial intelligence & develop your future.
And here are two snippets from the training last August to get you started on thinking about upskilling and our new world of work.