Why Upskilling is Key to Staying Employable

why skilling up is key to employableWhat is it about the world that makes it more challenging to find work? I know at least a couple of friends who are educated and still looking for jobs.

Technology has lowered the barriers for people to learn. For example, ever since English become one of the official languages use on the Internet, teenagers in Indonesia these days speak better English than when I was their age!

So now because of technology and access to Internet, competition for the same kind of jobs can come from anywhere in the world.

A robot can even replace you, the worker. This is already happening (as we speak). Diapers.com, uses robots (not people!) to move things around. How about that?

It’s either another person or robot or machine. Whatever. You’ve got competition! This competition leave us with few choices: either reinvent, redefine – or toast.

How do you stay employable?

Well, I’ve got news for you. You can. Here is what you want to do: skillup and keep on learning – for as long as you able to work – for life! Because a college degree alone won’t be enough to keep you employable. You want to keep moving forward and continue to reinvent and redefine your career.


1. The future lies on your (continued) education

The  US Congress on Joint Economic Committee, recently did a study “Nowhere to Go” to see the impact of Free Trade to US workers. The study finds that older workers and those without a college education – are at risk (of losing jobs). That being said, jobs are hard to come by for those without college degree. “Since most of the jobs expected to be created are in sectors that require education beyond high school.”

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost 11.9 million jobs between now and 2018 will be in professionals category, where 65% of employees have a four-year degree.

chart shows how jobs growth needs higher education2. Competition from other places/countries

This is where Globality (aff.)’ which is the title of a book, comes in. This video entitled “Why companies are Competing with Everyone from Everywhere for Everything,” precisely explains the challenges companies have in today’s environment. Of how the old model of globalization have evolved into a new phase in which challengers from emerging markets BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) are competing head-to-head with the Western companies (US & European) and growing at a staggering 30%.

Even though, this video was made in 2008, the conditions still true to this date.

As a result, companies that grow faster need workers for expansion – people who could come from anywhere – local or outside the country or even poach them from other companies.

Bottom line: companies would do whatever it takes to find the talents who could do the jobs – from anywhere.

3. Talents gap

Businesses are aware of this problem. That there is a global talent mismatch.

Despite high unemployment, at least 3 million U.S. positions currently remain unfilled. In 10 years, there could be at least 20 million vacant U.S. jobs unless the current education-to-employment system undergoes significant changes, says Anthony Carnevale, director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. Edward Gordon describes the imbalance between talent supply and job requirements as an “HR talent tsunami,” which will strike globally and create intense competition for people with science, technology, engineering and math skills and for other educated professionals in most industries. (emphasis added)

via SHRM

The view from the manufacturing sector.

According to ManpowerGroup’s 2011 Annual Talent Shortage Survey of nearly 40,000 employers across 39 countries and territories, the overwhelming majority (89 percent) of companies cited a lack of experience, technical skills deficiencies or poor soft skills among available candidates as a bar to employability.1 Workplace skills such as collaboration, critical thinking and agility are critical to generate productivity and innovation. (emphasis added)

via Manpower


You read the quote from above (via SHRM) that there are at least 3 million job openings. If you’ve been unemployed for awhile, chin up. Keep your hopes high. Just remember this, there’s solution to every problem. The Javanese have this saying ‘ada hikmahnya,’ which translates to “there is a reason to everything.”

The thing is.. 

You know that opportunities are available out there. You just have to look harder and carve out a niche. Keep on learning. And never stop learning.

Check this chart below from McKinsey Global Institute. There may be something that you can do – to fill the void.

shortages of talent middle level managers opportunities

So are you up for the challenge?

chart: McKinsey Global Institute, Changing the fortunes of America’s workforce.


Author: Dewita

Co-founder Ecotwist Labs.

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