How to Boost Your Career Opportunities
Through Upskilling

See also: Lifelong Learning

The world of work is always changing and what businesses are in search of evolves continuously. Candidates need to stay on top of the skills that are required in order to remain employable and take advantage of the best opportunities when vacancies arise.

While many employers provide on-the-job training, it’s still up to individuals to ensure they are keeping their skills sharp and staying relevant to what businesses are looking for, and that’s where upskilling comes in.

What’s the value in upskilling?

Upskilling is the process of refining your knowledge and skills to make them current for the job you do, or the job you’d like to move into, without retraining entirely for a new role. Technology, for example, is always changing and getting more intelligent, and it influences how businesses operate.

Consider how much the way businesses work has changed over just the last two decades. As this aspect of businesses evolves, the skills people need to do their jobs also changes, even if the job title doesn’t change. Businesses in this situation are forced to either find new employees to fill these skills gaps or use upskilling to keep the staff they have. And it’s an issue that’s resulted in major concerns for the labour market as skills shortages have grown.

Upskilling is a great cost saver for businesses, but it’s also of benefit to staff too. It gives employees the chance to apply for different opportunities within their company as their skill set grows, and it’s been suggested that it can improve employee happiness, motivation and job satisfaction.

But upskilling is also a great option for older employees who may have portfolio careers that will enable them to combine multiple roles and manage their skills more efficiently. It helps staff to stay abreast of the changes to work environments and industries, and means that older employees don’t need to start from scratch to stay active in the job market.

Ways to upskill and boost your CV

The good news is that there are several options when it comes to upskilling, helping individuals to build their skills quickly and put them into practice in the workplace. Here are a few of the most common solutions.


The first way to develop your skill set is to volunteer, and it’s a classic for a reason. With volunteering, you get to try your hand at different tasks or even sectors within your industry to build up your knowledge while also helping other teams and colleagues. You’ll get hands-on, practical experience with this route and get to develop your skills in the right environment, which is incredibly beneficial. For example, many businesses offer volunteer days that staff can use to work with local charities, which can be the perfect opportunity to build skills and expand your network while also doing good in the community.

Take a course

Courses aren’t just for retraining for a new role, they can also help you move up the ladder for a career path you’re already on. Courses are used by many people to build knowledge and gain qualifications that will benefit their career, and they can be done online or in person to suit your schedule or the skills you’re learning.

For example, MOOCs (Mass Open Online Courses) often enable you to study for free at leading institutions around the world, which is great for tech roles, or there are opportunities for online courses to learn leadership and management skills if you’re keen to take on a more senior position. For more hands-on roles where tech isn’t possible, you can find the next step up in qualifications and train for more responsibility.

For example, if you’re a driver, you can train to upgrade your licence which enables you to put your existing skills to use driving larger vehicles. Or maybe you’re a plumber looking to specialise so you can earn a higher wage and climb the career ladder faster. Courses are the perfect solution to this type of upskilling, ensuring you have the necessary knowledge to do your job safely.

Talk to your employer

Within your company, there are likely to be roles that employers either need to fill or will be looking to advertise for in the near future. So talking to your manager is a great way to find out what’s required for you to be the person to fill those roles. There may be opportunities for you to take on different responsibilities as part of your existing role to build the knowledge before you move into a more formal position.

For example, maybe your manager or supervisor knows of a project that’s coming up that would enable you to build the skills you’re looking to learn. On-the-job stretch opportunities are a great way of upskilling without needing to take time out for education. And there’s a benefit to being proactive and asking for more responsibility; it shows your employer you’re serious about your position in the company, which may inspire them to invest in your training on a more formal level in the future.

Join an industry association

Professional associations can tick a lot of the necessary boxes for upskilling and building your career, as they not only provide an opportunity for networking with important contacts but they also usually have a lot of resources, training courses and benefits to help people in the industry progress. These are often provided at a discounted rate so you can learn for less. It’s also a boost to your CV which can benefit you when applying for different roles. When you’re researching professional associations and groups within your area of expertise, find out if they have learning programmes and events that can benefit your training, or if there are opportunities for mentorships to learn from experienced professionals in positions you’d like to be in in the future.

The Skills You Need Guide to Personal Development

Further Reading from Skills You Need

The Skills You Need Guide to Personal Development

Learn how to set yourself effective personal goals and find the motivation you need to achieve them. This is the essence of personal development, a set of skills designed to help you reach your full potential, at work, in study and in your personal life.

The second edition of or bestselling eBook is ideal for anyone who wants to improve their skills and learning potential, and it is full of easy-to-follow, practical information.

Key takeaways

There are countless ways to learn and improve your skills, whatever job you’re doing or hope to be doing in the future. Upskilling is an opportunity to increase your job satisfaction and confidence, but it’s also a great way to climb the career ladder for more responsibility, a different job title and a higher salary, resulting in better prospects for you in the long term.

About the Author

Dakota Murphey is a writer based in Brighton, specialising in management training, HR and effective talent acquisition. Having authored pieces for numerous online and print magazines, Dakota has undertaken independent studies to discover how managerial styles and practices can positively impact business productivity.