COVID-19 Accelerates Need for Upskilling and Reskilling
Kevin O’ Connor
Interest in reskilling and upskilling is higher than ever in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
That accelerates a trend that was already growing quickly as employers and employees sought to close skills gaps and keep up with the pace of change across many industries.
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s TechEd Frontiers stands ready to lead efforts on both fronts across southeast Wisconsin and beyond.
TechEd Frontiers, UWM’s workforce development solution, reskills and upskills employees to fill the biggest needs of the region’s employers. The online, self-paced pathways help employers grow their own talent and employees future proof their careers.
“This is going to be a constantly evolving process of learning, and because of technology changing our jobs and lives, we are going to have to constantly learn and adapt to new ways of doing things,” UWM Vice Provost Phyllis King said. “Upskilling and reskilling are going to be a continuous feature of our future. You hear the term lifelong learning these days and it’s very true. We are going to have to constantly adapt to an ever-changing environment.”
The pandemic has impacted some industries more than others, leaving employees seeking new opportunities and employers searching for ways to adapt its workforce while delivering opportunities for learning new skills and competencies.
“The pandemic has definitely devastated a number of people across industry sectors. Hospitality, retail, those type of service industries have been effected,” King said. “In terms of upskilling and reskilling, we really need to figure out what those displaced people can do in terms of competencies or transitional skills that might lend themselves to effectively working in other jobs or other industries.”
Key to these efforts for upskilling and reskilling is creating short-term learning opportunities that are both accessible and affordable. This allows for employers to quickly transition a portion of their workforce into new opportunities and for unemployed and underemployed workers to efficiently acquire high-demand skills.
The first two TechEd Frontiers pathways – Cybersecurity Analyst I and Data Analytics and Visualization with Excel – are focused on skills and needs identified by industry as in high demand. These same industries are also realizing the most cost-effective and efficient way to build these skills in their workforce is to grow talent from within.
The COVID-19 pandemic has simply sped up a transition economists thought might happen over the next decade.
“It has really accelerated the pace of change,” King said. “The huge toll on the economy from this pandemic is really giving micro credentials a boost.. A lot of people need more education to get back in the workforce, and they need it quickly. People are looking for short-term learning options.”