A helpful guide to upskilling for your career

A helpful guide to upskilling for your career

In early 2020, the UK job market looked very different from today. As people were confined to their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, driving jobs, for example, became more prevalent than ever. As in-demand job roles change, and more tasks become digitalised, now is the time to upskill and future-proof your career. 

What is upskilling?

Upskilling is the process of acquiring new and advanced skills relevant to the job market. Upskilling may take the form of hard skills such as professional licences for driving jobs, Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV), Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC), digital learning or on-the-job training. In addition, upskilling can focus on soft skills including teamwork, communication, creativity and leadership. 

Why is upskilling important?

The World Economic Forum has stated that by 2022, almost half of the global workforce will need to either expand or replace their current skills. So, as we emerge from a difficult year, it is important to upskill now. 

The results of a survey in the Skills and Employment Report 2020 show employers struggled to fill vacancies due to lack of relevant skills, qualifications, and experience. By upskilling now, you gain an advantage by having the right skills and qualifications which employers are looking for.

What upskilling can do for you

Upskilling is your opportunity to take control and future-proof your career in the following ways:

Boost employability - gaining new sought-after skills will make your CV stand out to employers. Analysis has indicated that by moving up just one level of education (e.g. from no qualifications to GCSE level, or equivalent) a worker can reduce the average length of time they spend unemployed by around 4 weeks.

Improve confidence - learning new skills gives you increased confidence in your knowledge and abilities.

Earn more - employers will pay more for higher value skills and relevant qualifications. E.g., a Class 1 HGV Driver in the UK can expect an average salary of £28,000 per year compared to £22,600 for a Delivery Driver.

Find skills you didn’t know you had - sometimes you don’t realise what you are capable of until you try something new. Through upskilling, you could achieve things you didn’t believe were possible.

Experience - upskilling is not only about training, but also experience. Equally, experience is not only about skills gained in the workplace; you will have also achieved valuable skills in other areas of life that are transferable to a career. This is especially relevant when it comes to soft skills such as team work and communication which can be gained through things like volunteering or sports.

How to approach upskilling

Work out your objectives

Your approach to upskilling will depend on your end goal. If you have an ideal job in mind, then you need to research the skills and/or qualifications you need for that job. Alternatively, you could identify your current interests and find a suitable job role. Or perhaps you are already working in the sector you enjoy and can upskill to improve your prospects.

Many job roles still rely on hard skills, especially in sectors such as driving, warehouse, catering, manufacturing and production. However, soft skills including creativity, collaboration, communication and leadership are now also seen as significant qualities. A LinkedIn survey from 2019 found that 80% of companies believed soft skills were growing in importance for company success. 

When considering your next move, identify the current trends and in-demand jobs to future-proof your career. Cleaners, Customer Service Advisors, Care Workers and Drivers are just some of the job roles expected to grow over the next few years.

Choose a direction

  • Carry out an analysis to determine the skills needed for your chosen job. This could be looking at a new sector e.g., changing from catering to warehouse, or changing roles such as Class 2 to Class 1 Driver.  A search of job advertisements is a good place to start identifying the skills required.
  • Determine at what level you need to be to fulfil the job requirements, then identify where the gaps are and what you can do to fill them. 
  • Consider complimentary skills or areas for wider learning. E.g. If you are looking for Delivery Driver jobs, brush up on your highway code.
  • Once you know the skills you need to acquire, identify how you learn best. Are you disciplined enough for self-guided learning or do you learn better in a classroom environment? 

Stay Nimble is a useful resource that can assist you to discover your current skills and strengths, acquire new ones, and identify your next career move. Learn more here.

Explore your options

Upskilling can either be by yourself, in a classroom, online, or through on-the-job training. If you want to stay in your current industry, then you may be able to upskill via company supplied training with your employer, enabling you to move up or across to a different role within your existing company. 

Resources for upskilling

  • Professional driving courses - improve your driving skills for Delivery Driving jobs. Book online via the website.
  • Functional skills courses in English, maths and I.T. are available through many local libraries. https://www.gov.uk/search-library-catalogue
  • Google Digital Workshops - free online training courses with an accredited certification at the end. 
  • Digital skills bootcamps - a new government initiative for 2021. Learn more here
  • Stay Nimble - free and paid options to help you discover and improve your skills.
  • Skillshare - online educational videos available through a subscription.
  • Podcasts - accessible on most devices so you can listen and learn on the go.
  • Coursera - Sign up for free to browse available courses. 
  • Ted Talks  - video presentations by expert speakers from various industries.
  • Industry newsletters – sign up for good relevant content.

Creating your upskilling plan 

You can create your upskilling plan by following these 5 steps:

  1. Small – acquiring knowledge independently through research.
  2. Medium - skills development through classes, training and experience.
  3. Large - gaining qualifications such as degrees, HGV Licences.

    Consider how much time you have and work out a realistic plan. It might mean sacrificing some Netflix time, but it will be worth it to achieve your goal. For example, each week you could schedule to work on one large and/or medium scale learning task plus a couple of small tasks such as listening to a relevant podcast or reading a book.
  • Identify anything that could jeopardise your progress ahead of time so you can plan to avoid any distractions.
  • Put together your own syllabus based on your analysis. Learn how to create a syllabus here.
  • Schedule regular progress reviews to keep on track.

The world of work is changing and when it comes to skills, the future is already here. Now could be the time to take action to upskill and adapt.


1. weforum.org. 2020. We need a global reskilling revolution – here's why. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/01/reskilling-revolution-jobs-future-skills/.

2. Logistics UK Policy, Skills and Employment Report 2020, pp. 6

3. Chapman, A. and Wheatley, H., 2021. Crisis Support to Aviation and the Right to Retrain. New Economics Foundation, [Online]. Available at: https://neweconomics.org/uploads/files/aviation-workers.pdf

4. LinkedIn. 2021. LinkedIn 2019 Talent Trends: Soft Skills, Transparency and Trust. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/linkedin-2019-talent-trends-soft-skills-transparency-trust-bersin/.

In-Demand Skills — what are they, and how can I get them? 2019. Stay Nimble. [ONLINE] Available at: https://medium.com/staynimble/in-demand-skills-what-are-they-and-how-can-i-get-them-a32ae102eb.