Upskilling for Youth

Covid-19 has brought with it major disruptions for all aspects of the human race with education, employment and economy amongst the worst hits. According to UNESCO, about 60% learners across the globe have been affected with 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 amongst 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, the role of technology to promote 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 who are 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 Some of them have lost jobs during the pandemic, while others, may be at the brink of it because of outdated skills which no longer produce immediate value for the employers. Upskilling for them is a need to not only save their existing careers but also a means to accelerate their professional journey.

Whichever the group we talk about, the bottom line is that upskilling is the only way for the youth to gain, sustain and grow in their professional life, in the light of the pandemic and the surrounding 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 to help the youth in upskilling via a variety of platforms and avenues. Here are a few that deserve special mention:

Certification platforms

There are numerous platforms out there to help the youth with upskilling across a variety of fields, courses and disciplines. In addition to helping them pick 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 the resumes. The cherry on the cake is most of these platforms are offering skills in capabilities which have an abundant demand and the 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, Stanford, and leading companies like Google and IBM. Their course offerings dabble across disciplines from social sciences to technology to businesses to personal development.
  • 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 a necessity. Be it for developing a personal brand to attract the best employers or helping your employer create a presence for their brand, marketing skills for digital media are a great 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 which can help the youth unleash their hidden potential by upskilling.

Platforms for Practical Experience

While the above mentioned platforms will help you pick the right skills and certifications, practical experience will help you take the leap and put your upskilling efforts to use. Put simply, an employer might not be too impressed by simply a certification unless 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 which 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 to get practical experience. They have innumerable internship opportunities which anyone pursue as they offer great flexibility. The cherry on the cake is that you can get the opportunity to work with some of the top brands and take the first step towards working in the field of your upskilling.
  • Kaggle: This is more specifically for the technologists in the field of machine learning and data science. Essentially, 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 take part in competitions to test your skills.
Again, there are several other platforms you can look up and leverage from 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 on the need for upskilling for 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: It is important to have a plan in mind rather than simply diving into and enrolling in every course you come across. You might wish to 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 course on biotechnology. This does not mean you have to box yourself. Give yourself the freedom to even swap careers, but have a plan instead of just firing in open air.
  • Analyze the industry demands: In addition to mapping your upskilling efforts to your interests and career plans, take a broad look on the industry demands as well. Since your whole objective of upskilling in this day and age is to land a secure professional role, you need to pick up skills that are 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 would be a rare moment when you would be putting in all your time and effort into upskilling. Most likely you would either be balancing it with college work or office work. In the former case, you might want to seek support from online learning and homework help platforms to keep up your academic performance. For the latter, you need to add efficiency to your work with clear prioritization to create some 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 that will help them be employable and resilient in the face of any disruption. Upskilling is the new normal and the sooner we embrace it, the better position we will be to succeed in a post Covid world.