Upskilling for Youth

COVID-19 has brought significant disruptions for all aspects of the human race, with education, employment, and the economy among the worst hits. According to UNESCO, about 60% of learners across the globe have been affected by knowledge transfer and learning coming to a standstill. On the employment side, too, there have been massive job losses and salary cuts due to the pandemic. One common trend that has come around is the need to invest in upskilling, especially among the youth who have their entire career ahead of them. The objective behind embracing the whole upskilling narrative is to ensure that the workforce of tomorrow, i.e., today's learners, are resilient enough to manage any disruptions that come along in the future. Through this article, let's explore in detail the need for upskilling, technology's role in promoting upskilling, and best practices to strive for results.

Upskilling: New Need in the New Normal

When we talk about the youth under the lens of upskilling, we primarily have two target groups in mind. On the one hand, we have those enrolled in higher education and on the edge of entering the professional world. With uncertainty and ambiguity in the market scenario, it only leaves room for the survival of the fittest. This implies that college students with the most relevant skills will be best suited for employment opportunities. Invariably, this points to the need to upskill to harness the most sought-after capabilities.

On the other hand of the spectrum, we have the working youth. Some of them have lost jobs during the pandemic, while others may be on the brink of it because of outdated skills that no longer produce immediate value for employers. Upskilling for them is a need to not only save their existing careers but also a means to accelerate their professional journey.

Whichever group we talk about, the bottom line is that upskilling is the only way for the youth to gain, sustain, and grow professionally in light of the pandemic and the uncertainty.

Technology: The Biggest Enabler for Upskilling

There is no doubt that Covid-19 has created a sense of urgency for upskilling. However, institutions and training centers for upskilling are beyond reach due to social distancing norms and repeated lockdowns. In such a situation, technology has been one of the biggest enablers in helping the youth upskill via various platforms and avenues. Here are a few that deserve special mention:

Certification platforms

There are numerous platforms to help the youth with upskilling across various fields, courses, and disciplines. In addition to assisting them in picking up the right skills, most of these platforms also offer glorious and attractive online certifications from renowned institutions across the globe for the youth to add to their resumes. The cherry on the cake is that most of these platforms offer skills and capabilities that are in abundant demand. These certifications can be a direct ticket to lucrative employment opportunities. Depending on the field and discipline, youth can choose between the different platforms, including:
  • Coursera: This has been one of the most popular online skills-building and certification platforms. They offer courses from top universities like Yale, Michigan, and Stanford and leading companies like Google and IBM. Their course offerings dabble across social sciences, technology, businesses, and personal development disciplines.
  • Data Camp: For those looking to polish their technical skills on demand, PluralSight is the platform to be at. It offers on-demand technology learning to help learners hone their IT skills with accompanying certifications, especially around Data Sciences. With technology becoming one of the top survivors of COVID-19, augmenting one's skills in this industry makes a lot of sense.
  • Moz Academy: With the world going digital, adequate learning to create an impressive digital footprint is necessary. Be it for developing a personal brand to attract the best employers or helping your employer make a presence for their brand, marketing skills for digital media are a significant investment. Moz Academy offers a one-stop solution to help you pick every capability you need to rule the internet.

These are just a handful of examples among a large pool of platforms that can help the youth unleash their hidden potential by upskilling.

Platforms for Practical Experience

While the platforms mentioned above will help you pick the right skills and certifications, practical experience will help you take the leap and put your upskilling efforts to use. An employer might only be impressed by simply a certification if you have some evidence to verify your abilities. Undoubtedly, some of these platforms will ensure that you have sufficient project work to support your claim. However, some industry experience never harms. Here are a few platforms that can help you practice your newly acquired art:
  • Internshala: As the name suggests, this is a perfect platform for youth who have invested in upskilling to seek short-term projects and internships for practical experience. They offer great flexibility and innumerable internship opportunities that anyone can pursue. The cherry on the cake is that you can get the chance to work with some of the top brands and take the first step towards working in your upskilling field.
  • Kaggle: This is more specifically for machine learning and data science technologists. It is a robust community of data scientists and machine learning practitioners where you can leverage your upskilling to engage in conversations with experts and participate in competitions to test your skills.
Again, there are several other platforms you can look up and leverage to ensure that your upskilling has practical backing when you apply for any role in the field.
Making the most of Upskilling

With adequate knowledge of the need for upskilling in post-Covid times and the platforms one can begin the exploration with, there are certain best practices to remember to make your upskilling journey fruitful.
  • Be sure of the skills: Having a plan in mind is essential rather than simply diving into and enrolling in every course. You should do multiple courses, but make sure they have some connection to your larger career objectives. For instance, if you seek to pursue a career in marketing, courses on social media management, content writing, etc., make more sense than picking up a biotechnology course. This does not mean you have to box yourself. Give yourself the freedom to swap careers, but have a plan instead of just firing in the open air.
  • Analyze the industry demands: Besides mapping your upskilling efforts to your interests and career plans, look broadly at the industry demands. Since your whole objective of upskilling nowadays is to land a secure professional role, you must pick up skills in demand. This is not to say that you learn anything without an interest. However, the objective is to map your interests with industry needs and upskill accordingly.
  • Balance your energy and efforts: It is a rare moment when you put all your time and effort into upskilling. You would be balancing it with college or office work. In the former case, you should seek support from online learning and homework help platforms to maintain your academic performance. For the latter, you must add efficiency to your work with clear prioritization to create time to work on your upskilling.

The Bottom Line

To cut a long story short, while there are significant challenges to tackle, COVID-19 has also brought along some opportunities, upskilling for youth being one of them. The youth must see this as a time to pick up skills and capabilities to help them be employable and resilient in any disruption. Upskilling is the new normal; the sooner we embrace it, the better we will be to succeed in a post-Covid world.