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Reskilling or Upskilling: Definitions, Differences and How to Go About It


In today’s fast-paced world, the concepts of reskilling and upskilling have become crucial for career growth and stability. As industries evolve and technologies advance, the skills required to excel in the workplace change, making continuous learning essential. But what exactly do reskilling and upskilling mean, and how can they benefit you? This article will delve into these concepts, highlight their differences, and provide practical steps on how to go about them.

Reskilling vs Upskilling


Reskilling refers to the process of learning new skills so an individual can perform a different job or take on a new role within the same organization or a different industry. This often happens when a person’s current job role becomes obsolete or when there’s a need to transition to a different field entirely.

Upskilling, on the other hand, involves enhancing one’s current skill set to improve performance in their existing job role. This typically includes acquiring advanced knowledge or abilities that allow individuals to stay competitive and grow within their current career path.

Key Differences

The primary difference between reskilling and upskilling lies in their objectives. Reskilling is about learning new skills for a different job, whereas upskilling focuses on improving skills for the same job. While reskilling can lead to a career change, upskilling usually leads to career advancement within the same field.

Why Reskilling and Upskilling Matter

Economic Changes

The global economy is constantly changing, influenced by various factors such as globalisation, technological innovation and market demands. These changes can render certain job roles obsolete while creating new opportunities in emerging fields. Reskilling allows individuals to adapt to these changes by acquiring skills relevant to new job markets.

Technological Advancements

Technological advancements are rapidly transforming industries. Automation, artificial intelligence and other technological innovations are changing the way we work. Upskilling ensures that individuals remain proficient with new tools and technologies, thereby maintaining their value in the workforce.

How to Identify the Need for Reskilling or Upskilling


Begin by assessing your current skills and comparing them with the requirements of your desired job or industry. Then, identify any gaps that need to be filled to achieve your career goals. Self-assessment tools, feedback from peers, and performance reviews can provide valuable insights.

Industry Trends

Stay informed about industry trends and market demands. Research reports, professional organizations and industry news can help you understand which skills are in demand and which ones are becoming obsolete. This knowledge will guide your decision on whether to reskill or upskill.

Steps to Reskill Effectively

Assessing Current Skills

Evaluate your existing skill set to determine which skills are transferable and which new skills you need to acquire. This will help you create a clear plan for your reskilling journey.

Choosing the Right Path

Identify the new career or role you want to pursue. Research the necessary qualifications and skills required for that position. Consider seeking advice from career counselors or industry professionals.

Finding the Right Resources

There are numerous resources available for reskilling, including online courses, boot camps, workshops and community colleges. Choose programs that offer practical, hands-on experience and are recognized by industry standards.

Steps to Upskill Effectively

Setting Clear Goals

Set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (SMART) goals for your upskilling efforts. Clearly defined goals will help you stay focused and motivated.

Continuous Learning

Embrace a mindset of continuous learning. Attend workshops, webinars and industry conferences to stay updated on the latest trends and advancements in your field. Casual learning, or learning outside formal settings, can also be incredibly powerful. It allows you to explore interests and develop expertise in your own time, and may open doors to new opportunities.

Leveraging Online Courses

Online courses are a convenient way to upskill. Platforms like Coursera, Udemy, and LinkedIn Learning offer a wide range of courses in various fields. Choose courses that are relevant to your career goals and offer certifications upon completion.

Support Systems and Resources

Employer Support

Many employers offer support for reskilling and upskilling through training programs, tuition reimbursement and professional development opportunities. Discuss your career goals with your employer and explore the available resources.

Government Programs

Governments often provide programmes and grants to support workforce development. These programmes can help cover the costs of training and education for individuals looking to reskill or upskill.

Professional Networks

Make the most of your professional network to find mentors, industry experts and peers who can provide guidance and support. Networking events and professional organizations are excellent platforms to connect with like-minded individuals.

Real-World Success Stories

Examples of Reskilling

Consider the story of Lisa, a former retail manager who transitioned to a career in digital marketing. By enrolling in an online marketing course and gaining hands-on experience through internships, Jane was able to successfully reskill and secure a job in her new field.

Examples of Upskilling

Take John, a software developer who upskilled by learning new programming languages and frameworks. Through continuous learning and attending industry conferences, John was able to advance to a senior developer role and take on more complex projects.


Reskilling and upskilling are essential strategies for career growth and adaptability in today’s ever-changing job market. By understanding the differences between the two and following the practical steps outlined above, you can successfully navigate your career paths, stay competitive and achieve your professional goals.


What is the difference between reskilling and upskilling? Reskilling involves learning new skills for a different job, while upskilling focuses on improving skills for the same job.

How do I know if I need to reskill or upskill? Assess your current skills and compare them with industry demands and your career goals. If your job role is becoming obsolete, reskilling might be necessary. If you want to advance in your current role, consider upskilling.

Can I reskill while working full-time? Yes, many online courses and part-time programmes are designed for working professionals. Managing your time effectively is key.

What are some popular platforms for upskilling? Popular platforms include Coursera, Udemy, LinkedIn Learning, and edX. These offer a variety of courses across different fields.

How long does it take to reskill or upskill? The duration varies depending on the complexity of the new skills and the time you can invest. It can range from a few months to a couple of years.

Are there financial aids available for reskilling or upskilling? Yes, many employers, governments and educational institutions offer financial aid, grants or scholarships to support reskilling and upskilling efforts.