Upskilling. What's your 2020 plan?  


Honorable Maven Registered
Joined: 11 months ago
Posts: 598
December 2, 2019 11:06 am  

Last night I was watching of my favorite CNN segments (only my only favorite CNN segment), Fareed Zakaria, GPS and he had a session where the notion of upskilling came into play.   

It made me reflect, on my upskilling and how that part of career development is key to sustainable career growth and development. 

At this time of year, many of us in the private sector are having our end of year reviews - and some that conversation is about what we did to develop (upskill) and where we intend to foucs for the following year.    So I have a plan in place.

Do you?

For me it's a mix.  Certainly my in-job , day to day is the biggest contibutor to my upskilling.  I engage in projects and items that reflect development for me (either personal, or for the team/company) and addresses a gap or an area to strenthen. 

A piece of it is also, and importantly so, beyond job development. I.e. a course, certificate program, etc. 

For  career, as my boss gently reminded me, it can be important to show you're investing in your development and little experiences/training that point to upskilling can be have meaningful returns. (he was annoyed I didn't complete an external training program to which the company invested).  He noted it's what likes to see in a CV that a person is investing in their development beyond the job. But for me this year, most of my important upskilling came from the job, which we ultimately agreed.  For me, this year was about my job and what i did this year i'm happy with on many fronts.

Upskilling: this is one piece of the puzzle what helps one achieve sustainablity in a job market that is now increasingly volitile and immensely competitive. 

So i'm good this year, i feel.....upskilled! I feel, competitive. And in a short-term horizon, stable.

When I was in academia, I didn't think aobut the word upskilling but I did think of others words...differentiation/competitiveness. 

So to that extent, I did invest outside the lab into course work,  volunteer work,  and other trainings that provided additional competency building and training, and so on.  They were linked at time to giving me expsore to items that I was not getting in the lab, namely soft-skill and leadership competency building, and some outside the lab technical skills for future target job areas. So I had a plan in terms of that I knew i needed to differentiate and upskill. I found activities to help towards that end. And yes,  still did my lab work that was at the core. 

So moving into 2020..what are you upskilling plans? 

Mine: complete the training for a specific certificate linked to my job function, do my job, I still have some great on-job experiences I'm looking to execute on, so do that, and move towards some non-work related upskilling for my future entrepreneural ambitions.  


Dave Jensen
Prominent Maven Moderator
Joined: 12 months ago
Posts: 912
December 11, 2019 8:00 pm  

Great post, DX. Thanks for your usual (interesting) thread topic.

For me, when I think of this topic of "upskilling" it reminds me of what companies used to take on for their employees, and the way that some people THINK it still operates today.

That "old school" view of upskilling is that the COMPANY is responsible for it, that it is the job of the employer to do on the job training and to help their employees move towards new skill areas and contribute in different (better) ways. While this may be the case in some employers, your post is good because it makes today's picture clear . . . it's really in YOUR area of responsibility, and not the company's, to think about what you are going to add to your mix of skills and what you might add to increase your worth to your employer.

Gone are "OJT" (On the Job Training) programs. If you're hired as a microbiologist to support the fermentation group, and you know how to do one particular assay, but otherwise know nothing further about the operations of a fermenter and the big-picture of microbiology in the pilot plant, you're out of luck. You'll be held at the level you are at now until you gradually, and oh so gradually, start to pick up other skills by attrition. But no one is going to put you through a program to become more valuable to the employer, so you have to "design" such a program yourself! Just as DX has done.

Is there anyone reading and posting here who has an employer who still offers OJT? When I started recruiting, one major pharma company on the East Coast actually cared so much about it they arranged a program with Rutgers at the time to go into their labs and conduct actual creditable coursework so that not only could their people come away better trained, they could also use it towards a Masters degree. That's long gone, I think, but I would love to know if anyone else here can spot examples of this mentality. Gone are the days of companies investing a ton in their people -- now, you invest in yourself. 

Dave Jensen, Founder and Moderator

Dave Jensen, Founder and Moderator
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