March 27, 2020

Reskilling and upskilling to overcome a crisis

Covid-19 is forcing many of us to change how we work, but we can learn and thrive through reskilling and upskilling

Many developments have emerged in our modern world that have heavily disrupted lives and businesses. Now, with Covid-19 wreaking havoc on the economy and our physical and mental well-being, we must shift from our usual ways of doing things if we want to prevail.

At this moment, the effective use of technology has never been more critical. There has been a huge rise in remote working as part of the campaign to reduce person-to-person contact and potential coronavirus infections. However, many jobs require a complete revamp of the way we work.

This is where reskilling and upskilling become an important foundation for us and for businesses. To reskill is to learn new things, completely different from our usual expertise, while to upskill is to update our current knowledge and skills to strengthen them.

We cannot control what is happening to our world today but we can still control how we deal with what is around us. We can adapt to challenges and overcome them.

How can reskilling and upskilling help us surmount the problems we’re seeing?

The first way that reskilling and upskilling can help is in the realm of digital transformation, which is urgently required by anyone seeking to overcome the prevailing circumstances. We are being required to adopt social distancing and remote working when possible, and this is changing the work process. There are many programs or mobile applications we can use to ease remote working and still keep ourselves safe.

Whether you’re a digital native or from an earlier generation less familiar with technology, reskilling and upskilling are great ways to learn to effectively utilise new applications that will help you become a more effective remote worker.

This brings us to the second benefit of reskilling and upskilling – helping us maintain our productivity. As we won’t be seeing our colleagues — and our bosses — one of the many things we will struggle with is communication and productivity. Oftentimes in a home setting, we find distractions more easily and can end up procrastinating.

Reskilling and upskilling can help us find new ways of working more effectively, no matter whether we’re in the office or our spare bedroom at home.

The third benefit lies in being able to overcome the problems of today and the future. Reskilling and upskilling are not a one-time thing. The whole point of reskilling and upskilling is to do do continuously in order to future-proof our skills to keep up with change.

Now that we understand the importance of reskilling and upskilling and how they can helps us, how do we start?

Kick-start your learning journey with these tips.

First, strengthen the right mindset. In times of crisis such as the one we’re facing now, there’s a higher likelihood of panic and discouragement. The only sustainable way to face adversity is to have the mindset to move forward and learn from our experiences, good and bad alike.

Second, understand the urgency. This is a now-or-never situation and we cannot wait until tomorrow to reskill and upskill. We are in the midst of a crisis. The longer we put aside developing ourselves, the tougher it will be for us.

Third, understand the situation and remain wary of false information. To avoid further panic and passing on wrong information, dig deeper and keep yourself updated on constantly changing conditions.

By understanding the situation, we can understand what we need to develop. For example, if I work in sales, remote work isn’t for me because I need to meet my customers. But something I can work on is changing my customers’ experience. I can do this by interacting with them through other means to get the job done safely.

Fourth, don’t be afraid to ask for support and give back when you can. In times of trouble, motivation can fall and that’s okay. When it comes to reskilling and upskilling, we cannot do everything on our own. We still need support and feedback to improve.

We cannot control the things that happen in our world. The only way for us to move forward is to adapt. But, the fastest way to adapt is to be constantly prepared through reskilling and upskilling. Amid all the uncertainty we face today and in the future, this is the only thing we can control.

Arinya Talerngsri is Chief Capability Officer and Managing Director at SEAC – Southeast Asia’s Lifelong Learning Center. She can be reached by email at Explore and experience our lifelong learning ecosystem today at