Why reskilling can seem so difficult

Why reskilling can seem so difficult

The rapid pace of change we’re seeing today is creating a fundamental shift towards a lifetime of learning spread across a person’s career, changing the way we reskill and upskill over our lifetimes.

Currently only 19% of a person’s learning and training occurs after the age of 21, but by 2040, this number will more than double to 41%. This shift increasingly places responsibility and accountability for reskilling with industry and indeed workers themselves.

With an average 15 year-old today expecting to have approximately 17 jobs across 5 different careers in their lifetime, reskilling will become a necessity to navigate these more complex careers.

So if reskilling is the new norm, why are we still finding it so difficult?

Well for many of us, work not only provides us with an income but an identity as well. If we work in the medical profession, we may be known as a doctor or nurse. We ask each other, “what do you do?”, as our daily tasks often define our identity. In this context reskilling into a new role is not just about gaining new skills to transition. It is also a shift in our identity.

At an Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) conference in 2018,  Jean-Michel Blanquer, the French Minister for Education explained this point further, “[Reskilling] is not just about supply meeting demand. It is essentially a human process: people digging down deep within themselves to bring new skills to the surface.”

It is clear that the effectiveness of reskilling is not just about acquiring new skill sets, it’s also about a change in mindset, shifting from jobs to skills, and away from our occupation defining us. So how do we equip workers with the mindset to more easily transition across jobs and reskill when necessary?

FYA’s New Work Mindset report gives us a framework for understanding how to think about reskilling and job transitions differently. Through analysing 2.7 million job advertisements we’ve found there are actually seven areas of work or job clusters in Australia that require similar skills. This means when you train or work in one job, on average you actually get skills for 13 other jobs.

Reskilling is difficult, particularly when your identity is linked to your job. But by thinking about how you might fit in an area of work, rather than an individual job, we can start to shift our mindsets and embrace reskilling. This mindset needs to be seized upon not just by young people, but by government, educators, tertiary institutions and parents so that future generations can lead meaningful, successful lives.