What Is Upskilling?


You probably have heard the term “continuing education.” Many careers benefit from continuing education; some even require it. But “upskilling” takes the notion of continuing your education to a new level. It’s not merely about learning more within the confines of your career. Upskilling is about acquiring new skills that add to your knowledge base, help you keep up with advancing technology and trends, and stay ahead of the curve. Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky believed you should “skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it’s been.” If you want to advance your career, look to the future and consider the skills you’ll need tomorrow.

How Can You Upskill?

Sometimes upskilling is as simple as teaching yourself the ins and outs of new software that your company uses. Or brushing up on skills you once mastered but haven’t used in a while. More often, it requires formal training. To continually improve your skills and acquire new ones:

Consider What Skills Might Be Valuable to Your Future

From learning a new language to becoming an expert at one type of software, the skills you might learn are limited only by your imagination. But if you follow the puck to its next destination, you want to choose skills that will help you advance in your future career. For example, if you currently work as an administrative assistant but often help out with financial reports, maybe it’s time to learn the accounting basics that could help you transition to a new role. Or maybe you want a whole new career as a fitness coach. Whether you want to work on computers or with people in the hospitality field, you can learn the skills you need.

Take Advantage of Employer-Sponsored Training

Your current employer wants you to be the best at your job. That’s why they may occasionally run classes—both voluntary and required—to make it easier for you to stay up to speed or learn new skills. Check with your Human Resources department to see what is offered and take advantage of every opportunity you can to learn and demonstrate that you have a can-do, will-do attitude.

Attend Online Classes

One of the stumbling blocks that people find to upskilling is that they don’t think they have the time. Instead of trekking to a campus, consider taking courses online. Online colleges offer certificate programs in a variety of careers. Find out from your employer what type of skills will best fit your future growth plans and their current needs. And be sure to ask if they provide tuition reimbursement; many employees offer it as part of their benefits packages.

Why Upskilling is Important for Professional Development and Career Training

Keep Up with Current Technology

One of the most important reasons to embrace upskilling is to stay abreast of tech innovations. If you feel like the technology you work with is always changing, it is. An upskill class or certificate program can help you brush up on an older technology or introduce you to its new features. And all that technology that is meant to make you more efficient at your job is not lost on your boss. The more proficient you are, the better it is for your company and your future.

Build More Advancement Opportunities

New skills also position you for more responsibilities and promotions. Whether you want to apply internally for a new job or pursue opportunities at a different company, you will stand out from the crowd when you can verify you have specific skills. If you’ve always worked well on projects, would project management skills enable you to lead? Or will additional IT certifications add more value to your resume and money to your salary?

Investigate a New Career

A certificate can be a quick and easy way to investigate a new field or gain the required skills needed for the job. And if you enter the field and want to advance, upskilling can help you learn additional skills. You may even be able to have credits transferred from the classes you took for your certificate.

Learn Important Life Skills

In addition to your coursework, upskilling may teach you important life skills such as time management, self-discipline, and organization. You can also learn about critical thinking, communication, problem solving, leadership, and networking.

Gain Greater Job Satisfaction

With the potential for a higher income, better job benefits, and more opportunities for advancement, there’s a greater chance you will enjoy your job more. You will have more choices to find a career that really interests you and that makes use of your many talents.

But how do you fit upskilling into your life? There are many part-time and online programs available, as well as financial aid. If you aren’t sure what type of degree or certificate would best fit your career goals and opportunities for advancement, talk to your employer. They may have suggestions for where there are knowledge gaps within the organization, and what the best way would be to learn skills and perhaps position you for a future promotion.

At National American University’s Upskill Academy, we offer more than 900 career-focused certificate programs and enrichment courses including information technology, business, construction, healthcare, legal studies, and energy. If you would like to advance in your career and improve your skillset, call 800-209-0182 to speak to a counselor or click learn more now.


Online programs for maximum flexibility
NAU students receiving transfer or experiential learning credit
Relevant degree and certificate programs
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