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Upskilling and Reskilling Middle-aged Workers for Shifts in Industries

There is an alarming trend in industries today. The first is that many companies don’t need manual laborers anymore. The second is that more and more employers prefer younger employees to conform to the increasing demand of a tech-driven industry. According to a report from McKinsey Global Institute, as many as 375 million workers stand to lose their jobs by 2030. This is because of automation, digitization, and artificial intelligence.

How impactful is this trend? It is as impactful as the shift from agricultural to manufacturing that brought many Western countries, including China, to massive economic growth. The speed of this shift today, however, is faster than anyone can imagine. In the report, 62% of executives with more than $100 million in annual revenue believe that they need to retrain or replace more than 25% of their workforce by 2030 because of digitization and automation.

The same report noted that in the United States and Europe, that figure is even higher. Executives there believe they would need to either replace or retrain 64% and 70% of their employees, respectively. Companies with more than $500 million in annual revenue believe that technological disruption will affect more than a quarter of their current workforce.

Impact on Middle-aged Workers

Middle-age workers stand to lose from this shift if they do not learn new skills. This is partly the reason why several government programs aim to provide training programs to middle-aged federal workers, as well as veterans returning from their deployments abroad. Some of these programs are especially concerned about the fate of disabled veterans, whose disabilities will stop them from pursuing certain jobs.

As they continue to face challenges because of their lack of necessary technological skills, middle-aged workers, veterans included, begin to look at the possibility of starting their own businesses. Before they do that, however, they need to attend training sessions to learn about the various industries in the market. For disabled veterans, they can attend a DVBE consulting, as this program is designed to help them with their small business ideas.

man working on laptop

Hard Skills

Hard skills refer to teachable abilities. These are easy to quantify and measure. Whether you plan to shift careers as a middle-aged employee or start your own business, recruiters and entrepreneurs believe you need analytical skills, high-level IT skills, basic computer knowledge, customer service skills, and presentation skills to survive in the new trend. Aside from those, you must also learn team management, project management, writing, marketing, and graphic design skills.

Where can you learn these hard skills? You can apply in short online courses that you can take at night after your current job. You can also attend module-based training programs, which are largely self-taught so you have to depend on your basic knowledge about these skills. A lot of middle-aged workers are easily intimidated by learning these hard skills.

If you can use and understand social media, you will not have a difficult time understanding how data analytics works. It follows the same lines. Managerial skills are more difficult to master, but you’ll soon develop them with consistent practice.

Soft Skills

Although hard skills are important, soft skills have a longer shelf life, so to speak. Soft skills relate to how you work—how you are as a boss, employee, and colleague. Among many others, it includes communication and listening skills, empathy, creativity, emotional intelligence, and persuasiveness.

Although technical skills are important, human skills deserve attention, too. Just how much attention? More than 91% of business leaders believe that they need to make their workforce’s soft skills stronger. This will enable them to keep up with the changing trends in the industry.

Of course, artificial intelligence and virtual realities are reimagining soft skills. Chatbots, for example, are becoming more intelligent. They’re now able to empathize with customer concerns. These raise the stakes even higher as middle-aged workers don’t only need to learn new skills and improve existing ones, but they also have to compete with digital versions of themselves.

How can you gain such new knowledge? You can learn from self-help books and online blogs. You can also attend workshops and training that will put you on situational tests so that you can assess your abilities to respond to the market’s emerging demands.

It is important to understand that technology will not wait for any company to keep up. If you want to survive and thrive in the next years, you have to learn how to identify the new skills that your employees and business need. The emerging trend in the industry is one of fast, constant, mind-boggling changes.

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