Upskilling Post-50: Why and How to Do It


How important is it to grow one’s skillset after retirement? Most industries today are seeing rapid technological advancements, and staying up-to-date with these equips you with the skills required to navigate the industry. One way to do this is to upskill. Upskilling refers to the acquisition of more advanced skills through additional education and training.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) predicts an upskilling emergency in the present or near future, having estimated a 42% change in the core skills required to perform existing jobs between 2020 and 2022. Keeping up with this change ensures that what you have to offer remains relevant and valuable for the roles you seek to occupy. You can open yourself up to more opportunities by updating your skills. Building a skill set relevant to your industry can give you the freedom to choose options more suited to your preferences.

As you age, you may begin to doubt your ability to learn. This fear of being unable to grasp something new can keep people from taking up learning opportunities. However, research today shows that the human brain is capable of learning new information well into what is often considered old age. Any change in pace owing to age is more than made up for by the other strengths you have developed like patience, discipline, and introspection.  There can be various approaches to upskilling. Here is a simple task list that can help you narrow down the skills you wish to acquire, as well as the kind of learning experience you desire:

Step-1: Identifying the right industry 

Choose the industry you wish to enter. This would ideally be a field you have worked in before retirement or one complementary to your professional background. The WEF has identified seven professional areas that will see significant growth in the number of jobs offered:

  1. Care
  2. Engineering and cloud computing
  3. Sales Marketing and Content
  4. Data and AI
  5. Green Jobs
  6. People and Culture
  7. Specialized Project Managers

Step-2: Narrowing down on a skill/subject 

Identify what skills are needed in the industry and what you are interested in, and choose accordingly. This can be done through research using online publications, newspapers, and conversations with people working in the industry. Look at what skills are in high demand and low supply in your chosen industry. In addition to this, choosing a subject that is of interest to you can help keep you motivated. Learning a subject complementary to your existing skill set can also help speed up the learning process.

Step-3: Finding the right method of learning 

Identify what methods of learning are right for you based on your learning preferences and the time you have. Online courses are a great way to acquire new skills, and several universities offer these for free on various platforms. If you are employed in a workplace in any capacity, you could find a co-worker who possesses the skills you wish to learn and offer them a two-way mentorship opportunity. Micro-learning — breaking down a skill into bite-sized sections (using short videos and tutorial articles, for example) — is another way to upskill when you have limited time on your hands.

Retirement gives you a chance to take time for yourself and identify what you are interested in before taking up any work. You can spend this time acquiring valuable skills to complement the wisdom and experience you have gained over your years in a professional career. Start your upskilling journey today because it’s never too late to learn a new skill!

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