6 Things You Should Know About Upskilling and Reskilling

By Jill Rehman, Career Coach at Toombs Inc.

Companies and employees are increasingly needing to reposition themselves to keep up to new advancements and stay competitive. Smart businesses are looking at potential areas where technology and trends are shifting and then upskilling and reskilling staff so they will not be left behind the competition.

Employment seekers are also looking for a strategic advantage to do the same – stay relevant and competitive. As a Career Coach, I help our clients ‘future proof’ their careers, which means evaluating skills they currently have and ones they will need to add value, not just to get a job now, but in the future.

Here are 6 essential things to know so you can take fullest advantage of this trend.


  1. Upskilling and Reskilling Defined

Upskilling and reskilling are trending terms you may have seen. What do they mean?

Upskilling refers to improving current abilities and learning new skills to advance the role that you are already in. This might mean learning new technologies or systems that affect the business that you are in or taking courses that can advance your career. For instance, an accountant with upward mobility goal might take a leadership class. A data analyst might take courses on different software systems. A power engineer might take a course to specialize in a particular area of expertise.

Reskilling refers to learning a new set of skills for a new career, possibly in a new industry. That same accountant might take some HR courses with the hope of switching departments or an oil and gas field worker might train in computer programming.

In some cases, I have worked with people who have made significant career transforming changes, such as a data analyst who reskilled to managing a textile company. A client whose whole career had been in oil and gas reskilled to achieving a position in tech hardware. I even had the privilege of working with a gas plant operator who reskilled to become a police officer.

Whether it is a big or small shift in one’s career, it is exciting to work with people that decide to take the leap to a new, often more fulfilling, career.


  1. Why people choose to upskill and reskill

New technologies, changes in demographics, such as an aging population, and the COVID pandemic are having a significant impact on what skills people need to thrive in today’s working world.

The new technology sector is growing at an unprecedented pace. The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs 2020 Report states:

80% of companies surveyed are speeding up the automation of work processes while 50% are accelerating the automation of jobs”.

It goes on to predict that:

50% employees will need reskilling before 2025”


85 million jobs could be displaced while 97 million new jobs could emerge because of changing technologies and trends.”

Covid has accelerated these trends as companies invest in automation instead of maintaining reliance on a workforce drastically impacted by the pandemic. According to a Conference Board of Canada poll reported in January 2021,

64% of managers already use automation-enabling technologies and 30% are planning to, for a total of 94% of those polled.”

Given these trends, it is more important than ever to focus on continual professional development through regular upskilling and reskilling.


  1. Job opportunities and threats

As jobs that can be automated are being replaced by machines and emerging technologies, new opportunities are being born out of the need for human skills: social interactions, creative problem solving and innovation skills to name a few.

The Future of Jobs Report by the World Economic Forum estimated that between 2018 and 2022 emerging technologies would displace 75 million jobs and create 133 million new jobs. Those employees who find their jobs redundant will need to learn new skills for the new jobs.

Some jobs that didn’t exist 10 years ago:


Additionally, these are some of the areas that are in increasing demand:


The Conference Board of Canada identified 92 occupations that will likely be displaced by automation, leaving workers to reskill. These roles will impact 1 in 5 employees in Canada. The industries most at risk are:


  1. Top skills in demand

Success in the shifting employment landscape means not just having technical skills, but companies are also increasingly looking for social and emotional skills in their employees. The World Economic Forum’s top ten skills of 2025 includes:

  1. Analytical thinking and innovation
  2. Active learning and learning strategies
  3. Complex problem solving
  4. Critical thinking and analysis
  5. Creativity, originality, and initiative
  6. Leadership and social influence
  7. Technology use, monitoring, and control
  8. Technology design and programming
  9. Resilience, stress tolerance, and flexibility
  10. Reasoning, problem solving, and ideation


  1. The decision to upskill or reskill

It is worth taking the time to think about your career path; what will it look like in 2 years, 5 years, 10 years? As part of completing this career planning process, identify whether the occupation(s) you have or are considering, as well as your skills, will be vulnerable to changes in the employment landscape in the near future.

Independent learning and career professional development (CPD):

Even though 94% of the business leaders polled expect employees to learn new skills while at work, online courses are an accessible way of gaining or improving skills. Popular online education includes sites like Udemy, Coursera, Khan Academy, LinkedIn, and SkillShare, but there are an increasing number of options that also include many universities and post secondary schools.

Here is a reference list of websites to help you make the decision whether upskilling or reskilling is something you should do:

Retraining: How to Launch a New Career – alis (

Calgary’s in-demand jobs and how to train for them (

Future Skills Centre – Home (


  1. How to upskill or reskill


Until you stop and take notice, you may not see how quickly the world of work is changing. At Toombs Inc., we pay close attention to the changing landscape to help our clients move smoothly and successfully into their next position or career choice. It is worth taking the time now to figure out if your position is future proofed and which emerging career opportunities you might enjoy.

Your new beginning
starts here.
Lets get to work

© Toombs Inc. • Privacy Policy
Let’s Connect
Stay ahead of the curve in a rapidly changing world with our latest insights.