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New year, new you, new skills: Reskilling and upskilling critical for employers, workers alike

February 14, 2023
By Larissa Chaikowsky, Head of Talent Reskilling Acceleration, BMO Financial Group

Photo: M Einero/peopleimages.com/Adobe Stock

Last year saw significant changes to the world of work, accelerated by the pandemic. Hybrid work environments, increased automation, and technological advancements transformed the workplace and our lives.

Although there has been some recent downsizing by companies in the tech sector, there is still a very competitive market for recruiting diverse and technical and digital talent.

We don’t expect to change in 2023, so employers and workers must keep adapting to elevate their competitiveness and attract the best talent. One of the most critical ways for organizations and individuals to do this is by investing in reskilling for the skills needed in the future.

The World Economic Forum predicts 50 percent of all employees will need reskilling, and 40 percent of current workers’ core skills will need to change by 2025. And by 2030, the world will be short 80 million tech workers, according to the International Monetary Fund. That’s due to the global shift towards a more digital economy.


As industries rapidly adopt enhanced technology, the demand for workers with digital skills is skyrocketing. The highest in-demand ‘new’ skills include cloud engineering, data analysis, and digital marketing. These are special skills today that are not restricted to the technology sector but are already crucial in various industries like finance, healthcare, marketing, and education.

Digital transformation accelerated by the pandemic is here to stay

It’s not only digital skills that are in demand. With the shift towards remote work, more companies are looking for employees who can collaborate and communicate effectively online. Other “soft” skills like problem-solving, creativity and emotional intelligence are also becoming more critical as companies look to create more flexible and adaptive workplaces. Technology proficiency and adaptability, the ability to work in a team – in-person or virtual – and – in-person or virtually and communicate effectively are key strengths.

For these reasons and many others, reskilling and upskilling are becoming more accessible than ever. Online learning platforms offer various courses and programs, from coding and data science to project management and communication skills.

These platforms allow individuals to make progress at their own pace and access various programs from renowned institutions. Many universities offer online programs and certificate courses to help students and working professionals stay updated with the latest trends and technologies.

An economic ripple effect

Both companies and society benefit from the reskilling and upskilling of talent. A strengthened, highly-skilled workforce increases productivity, innovation, and economic growth. Many companies, including BMO, are investing in the progress of their people by helping them learn, stretch, and grow while keeping pace with changing customer needs and wants.

Companies that invest in their employees’ training and development are more likely to retain their best talent and stay competitive in the marketplace. Reskilling is a differentiator; companies need a robust strategy to maintain a competitive edge.

However, reskilling and upskilling cannot fall solely on the shoulders of individuals and companies. Governments also have a role in helping workers progress towards the skills they need to adapt to the changing economy by making access to upskilling and reskilling more accessible.

Examples include investing in adult education and training programs, promoting apprenticeships and vocational education, and creating incentives for organizations and individuals to upskill and reskill through tax incentives and other financial benefits.

Reskilling and upskilling are crucial for individuals to progress in today’s job market. The shift towards a digital economy and automation means that demand for workers with digital and soft skills is growing. There are many resources available to help individuals reskill and upskill.

The public and private sectors need to support the workforce to adapt to the changing demands of the job market. Investing in employees’ skills is not just a smart business move; it’s an investment in the future of the workforce.

Larissa Chaikowsky is head of talent reskilling acceleration at BMO Financial Group.

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