Time to upskill for mid-career professionals
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Time to upskill for mid-career professionals

Time to upskill for mid-career professionals

As roles grow scarcer for older professionals, upskilling can help them take charge of their future


The digital disruption of businesses resulted in an increasing number of mid-career professionals hitting roadblocks, exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. More than any other segment of professionals, mid-career professionals aged 45 and above are grappling with increased job losses, redundancy, fewer promotion opportunities and increased ageism.

According to a new global report by non-profit employment organisation Generation, mid-career professionals are finding it harder than ever to secure roles. As per the report, from the US to the UK and India to Italy, the findings were broadly the same. The most overlooked employee bracket, 45- to 60-year-olds are finding it increasingly challenging to secure roles because of increased digitalisation and biases among hiring managers to recruit mid-career professionals.

Asked to rate candidate strengths, employers overwhelmingly say younger candidates are more application-ready, have more relevant experience, and are a better fit with company culture. The reluctance of older professionals to learn new skills, particularly around digital technologies, was another reason for stalled careers.

However, those perceptions are unfounded. Individuals in the 45+ individuals bracket outperformed their younger peers when it came to work – with employers responding that 87 per cent of their older hires are as good or better than younger employees in terms of their overall performance on the job. This highly favorable job performance is comparable to that of the 35-44 age group, even though the younger group is far more appealing to hiring managers.

The generation study also pointed out that almost three-quarters (73 per cent) of career changers aged 45+ said that training helped secure new roles. An increasing number of mid-career professionals who want to take charge of their own future are investing in upskilling to stay industry relevant.

For individuals and companies, upskilling leads to greater prosperity and growth. Upskilling can help mid-career professionals fast-track their careers and use their newly acquired skills to negotiate for better compensation and roles. For mid-career professionals, acquiring in-demand digital and advanced cognitive skills can lead to more agility and improved productivity.

Talent risk has jumped to the top of CEO agendas across sectors – particularly in the region. Increasingly, companies across the GCC are facing the challenge of ensuring that their existing talent pool can answer the demand for new digital roles. Investing in upskilling helps build competitive advantages, from retaining organisational expertise, ensuring continuity of service and operations. By hiring older professionals with required skills, companies benefit from a diverse inter-generational workforce with experience.

It also makes better business sense. According to the 2019 Deloitte Human Capital Trends, reskilling an internal candidate can cost as little as one-sixth of hiring and training an external candidate. It also has a positive impact on employee morale and reduces turnover, helping employees stay engaged and motivated. There is a huge opportunity to upskill existing talent.

Hence, talent and business leaders should consider working together with academia on long-term strategies to help mid-career employees bridge shifting skill gaps. This is where upGrad is helping the Middle East transform its talent force. Particularly in the UAE, upGrad has been inspired by the ambitious vision of the country’s leadership to build a competitive knowledge economy, which is one of the six pillars of National Agenda – in line with its Vision 2021.

Today, upGrad is nurturing lifelong Learners – of all ages – to unlock their potential and become a driving force in the country’s economic development. Learning and work are two sides of the new digital reality, enabling mid-career professionals in the UAE and the region to upskill and pivot to new career paths and take charge of their own future. The organisation provides dedicated mentors to learners along with end-to-end career support services to drive personalised career outcomes.

Across the GCC, businesses are at a critical phase when it comes to talent development and skill building. To emerge stronger from the pandemic, now is the time for individuals and organisations to invest in skill transformations.

Saranjit Sangar is the CEO-EMEA of upGrad

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