Future-Proof Your Career: The ROI From Soft, Critical Skills Upskilling

With the increasing adoption of advanced technologies such as generative AI, upskilling is the only way to improve one's efficiency and productivity. Moreover, it helps to step up the professional journey

The pursuit of knowledge and skill development is perhaps more important than ever in the competitive work market of today. A new survey by Pearson says that 88 per cent Indian workers see upskilling as integral to career growth.

The Need for Soft Skills in the Modern Workplace 

Soft skills have become increasingly crucial with the business ecosystem constantly upgrading. Automation, artificial intelligence (AI) and globalisation have shifted the focus from routine tasks to skills that are uniquely human. On the contrary, soft skills are at the heart of effective collaboration, innovation and customer-centricity. One of the driving forces behind the need for soft skills training is the rapid advancement of AI and automation. Jobs that involve routine, repetitive tasks are at risk of being automated.  

While for early professionals, it starts with simple soft skills like effective body language, tonality, professional writing, negotiation and storytelling, with experience it grows for needs like people management, conflict resolution, advanced data analysis, performance management and planning / structuring.  

A recent survey reveals 81 per cent of employees say upskilling and reskilling boosts productivity at work. 68 per cent companies invest in upskilling / reskilling while 35 per cent employees experience growth in compensation and role post upskilling.  


The ROI of Soft Skills 

While quantifying soft skills is not as easy as measuring hard skills, there are certain ways one can find out their return from the time and effort invested into learning a soft skill online or offline: 

Realising monetary potential and employability: professionals who excel in soft skills often start with and continue with higher salaries. Effective communicators, problem solvers and leaders are seen as assets to their organisations and are more likely to be rewarded accordingly. For college students, especially engineers and designers who do not actively engage with these soft skills in their curriculum, acquiring these skills before entering the workforce can result in a competitive edge and potentially higher starting salaries. 

career advancement opportunities unfurl: upskilling in soft and critical skills can accelerate career progression. Whether you're aiming for a promotion or considering a shift to a different industry, these skills open doors and increase your chances of securing coveted positions. The ROI here isn't just financial; it's about achieving your career aspirations. 

Security: In a world where automation threatens some traditional job roles, possessing strong soft and critical skills can provide a level of job security. These skills are inherently human and challenging to automate, making you more resilient to industry disruptions. Besides, people who take soft skills develop a habit of constantly upgrading their skills and getting better at what they do. 

Personal satisfaction and utilisation: who doesn’t have a side-business aspiration in this day and age? The ROI of upskilling extends beyond the business and encompasses personal growth, forging improved relationships, and achieving a higher quality of life.  

How to Upskill in Soft Skills and Critical Skills?

Now that we have thrown light upon understanding the importance and potential ROI of upskilling in soft and critical skills, here are practical steps to get started:

Find out what skill needs to be learnt. 

Assess your current skill set and identify areas that need improvement. Are there specific skills from the list above, such as active listening, problem-solving, or impactful communication, that you'd like to focus on? 

Setting Goals: Clear and Realistic 

Define specific goals for your upskilling journey. Whether becoming a more effective communicator, a better problem solver, or a confident public speaker, having clear objectives will keep you motivated. 

Seeking Opportunities to Learn 

Numerous resources are available to help you upskill in these areas. Consider enrolling in workshops, online courses, or joining professional associations that offer training in soft and critical skills.  

Options are many including the likes of Upgrad, Coursera, Crack-ED (my organisation) and many more where you can pick and choose on what you want to get upskilled on.  

Practicing Regularly 

Like any skill, soft and critical skills improve with practice. Look for opportunities to apply what you've learned in real-life situations, whether at work, in volunteer roles, or through personal projects. Regular exercise is key to solidifying these skills. 

Upskilling has an intricate ROI, benefiting both individuals and businesses. Individuals gain greater work possibilities, increased income potential, professional progression, stable employment, entrepreneurial chances, and personal fulfilment. Organisations gain from greater productivity, personnel retention, innovation, competitive advantage and adaptability.

Upskilling is not an alternative in a society where learning is a lifetime journey; it is a must. It's an investment that pays off in a variety of ways, allowing individuals and organisations to prosper in an ever-changing world. So, embrace upskilling as a means of personal and professional development and watch as it alters your future.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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